Anniversary Post: Richard Ramirez — Satanist

Richard Ramirez - SatanistI’ll admit that this is a bank shot. On this day in 1985, Richard Ramirez started his Los Angeles murder spree. He had already murdered two people, but this was the day that he really got going. He was labeled the “Night Stalker” by the press. In total, he killed 14 people. I’m not that interested in him. What I am interested in is the fact that he said he was a Satanist. This I find curious.

What does it mean to be a Satanist? I don’t think I am overstating when I say that it means absolutely nothing. It’s kind of like the word atheist in the time of Shakespeare. An atheist was anyone who wasn’t your form of Christian. So Protestants called Catholics atheists. And vise versa. Usually, when people say they are Satanists, they do so simply to shock people. It’s childish, but less so than the reactions of Christians to the idea.

What Makes a Satanist?

I don’t know of there ever being actual Satanist in the form we see in movies. Today, Satanism is a movement reflected in groups like the Satanic Temple, which are explicitly atheistic and use Satan merely as a symbol. The only people who take Satan seriously are fanatical followers of Abrahamic religions — people like ISIS and Pat Robertson.

It is well established that in early Judaism, Satan was more of a prosecutor for God. It is only later that he gets transformed into a kind of Yin to God’s Yang. And what that means is that the Abrahamic faiths are fundamentally polytheistic — but not in a fun way like the Greek, Norse, and most of all, Hindu myths.

But if we are to believe Terry Pratchett (and I see no reason not to), gods gain their power by having people believe in them. I rather doubt that Richard Ramirez was a Satanist in any meaningful way. He was just a psychopath. So if there really are gods, it’s the Christians and the Muslims who are keeping Satan alive.

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