Last week SAFM featured a debate on Satanism and crime called "What is Satanism?" - you can find the link to the debate here: SAFM podcast link (31 May What is Satanism?).
Having listened to this debate, and having become involved in the study of the occult and since also becoming a participant in a joint interfaith project recently, I formed something of an understanding of the topic.
I was immediately concerned with the sort of things being said by one of the guests on the show - one Adele Neveling, a woman who could not even pronounce "coven" correctly (ku-vern, not coa-vin), but who claimed to have been a Satanist for 18 years! I decided to approach her for comment.
Adele Neveling bills herself as a Christian "occult expert" with 18 years of experience in Satanism, and in the radio show, claimed that she had witnessed or even participated in human sacrifices (This already set off some alarms for me - how about you?) and even consumed human or perhaps animal flesh in the process of "worshipping Satan".
During the show itself, as you can hear, she did not sound very sure of herself - or her "facts" at all. In fact, she was way too uncertain of herself to be taken seriously as any kind of "expert". For one thing, "probably" does not stand up in a court of law, and people who claim to be Satanists just to get off from criminal charges on the excuse that "the devil made me do it" are generally not really Satanists at all. The fact that her statements continually received the backing of the other Christian "occult expert" being featured - the co-ordinator for the South African Police Services Occult Related Crimes Unit, Colonel Hennie De Jager - who unconscionably backed her wild claims and unfounded statements all the way to the hilt - was just disturbing. In the face of all this, I raise my hand and ask what I feel is the question nobody else - at least not on shows like this - is asking: What makes these people "experts" in "the occult" or in "Satanism"?
Have either of them achieved any actual degrees - either academically or in terms of studious involvement - in Satanism? Have either of them participated in actual Satanist religion? Ms. Neveling claims to have spent 18 years "in Satanism" - does she have anything to show for it afterwards? A degree or some kind of recognition from a Satanic church or occult coven? Does Colonel De Jager?
Did Ms. Neveling participate in a formal Satanic society dedicated to the persuits of the left hand path - or did she belong to a "coa-ven" of legend trippers - people who believe that Satanism is all about sex and drugs and vandalizing park benches, carving "Hail Satin" in school desks, or littering public parks with dead bunnies or chickens, strips of tin-foil and candles?
Neveling mentioned "breeders" and human sacrifice and that she had received "police attention" as a result - but did she offer any proof of these allegations? Was anyone (i.e. Ms. Neveling) ever arrested or charged for any of these alleged crimes? I can't recall any examples of such being broadcast in the media in the last couple of decades - can you? Given the sort of incendiary hysteria that flares up around any kind of media attention given to so-called "occult related crimes" in South African media as a habit, I should be able to see the smoke from my kitchen window.
As for Colonel De Jager, who presents himself as an "expert" in the occult - and the radio presenters blow his little trumpet with much fanfare - after all, he's a policeman who knows all about it - where did he receive his alleged training in the "occult"? Was it in an occult study group, a Satanic coven or "grotto" or "pylon"? Was he, like Marilyn Manson and so many other celebrities around the world today, a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan? Or is the truth that he learned about it, third-hand, at a Christian seminary or in a bible school - or in one of the special 5 day SAPS training courses offered to ORC recruits using material developed by his predecessor - Kobus Jonker - another man who has demonstrated zero actual working knowledge of either Pagan religions, occultism or Satanism - and has repeatedly conflated all of these along with traditional African beliefs and practices?
It's disconcerting and immensely troubling how many people billing themselves to law enforcement, the media and to the public at large, as "experts in the occult" have bugger-all qualifications in the subject. Instead, they have a list of qualifications in studies on the occult THROUGH THE BIASED VIEWS of ANOTHER religion. This is NOT the same thing.
What I mean to say is, if you want an expert opinion about paleontology, you don't consult a veterinarian - and if your dog has a chicken bone lodged in his esophagus, you don't rush him to a shrink! Sure they may both have doctorates - and their opinions may sound educated and weighty - and even (to be fair) knoweldgeable and even objective - but neither is qualified in the other's field, and frankly - unqualified.
Yet in this case, critics of one religion who belong to another religion are posing (and being feted, promoted and even defended) as experts in that religion - and their ignorant opinions are being taken at face value as "expertise" by all and sundry.
It's even more disquieting when you consider the amount of harm these frauds can wreak on (and in) the lives of others when they are taken seriously by people who should be doing more to ensure the credibility of their sources - like the police, Department of Education - and journalists (who above everything have an obligation to report the facts and tell the truth).
Face it, not everybody knows much (or anything) about Satanism as a religion, or about "the occult" - and while the public generally operates in varying degrees of ignorance, often influenced by fiction, horror movie schlock, it can be quite easy for groups like AUKSANO (or the ORC) - or people like Neveling and Lamprecht to stoke the fires of hysteria.
Amplified through the distorted lens of public ignorance and latent stupidity, things just get worse. Everyone has to have an opinion - and has to be heard on the topic, even if they're completely clueless. If you listen to the debate and listen to the absolute IDIOCY of the people who called in to accuse the lone Satanist who was participating in the debate, of being a liar and of covering up murders and other alleged crimes SIMPLY BECAUSE HE CHOSE TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS?? Really?
If you consider the hostility and sheer vindictiveness - coupled with the sheer absence of objectivity, logic or REASON evident in the calls - is it any wonder that Satanists who participate in these shows do so anonymously or do not wish to come forward?
How do you change the minds of people who don't seem to be capable of reason in the first place? Most of the callers sounded like they would sooner shoot a Satanist than look at one - and they certainly won't be interested in hearing someone out before considering a change of heart!
I'm sure these people - once they'd calmed down and put away their sharpened bibles - would be interested to know that Satanists don't hide their identities because they have something dastardly and sinister to hide - they hide their identities so that pitchfork and flaming torch waving loons won't know where to find them. They're people with jobs, careers, families, relationships.
But what about the claimed link between "Satanism" and crime in this country? Is there a real link between "the occult" and crime? How far off-target are charlatans like Neveling and Lamprecht really? Clearly - according to the media - there has been a rise in cries of "Satanism" surrounding recent reports of crime - but is there any proof to substantiate these claims?
If there were, why has not a single court in South Africa ever concluded as much?
Lamprecht and Neveling (as did Jonker before them) appear to be adherents of the widely claimed conspiracy theories fuelling hysteria about Satanists abducting dogs and cats and little children for sacrificial purposes for years.
Do Satanists really abduct cats and dogs every Halloween? Or is it really just a matter of urban myth following the number of illegal dog-fighting rings stealing animals as bait? Is Halloween really "evil" as these people say it is? Or is it no more evil than "Christmas" - or possibly even less so?
Ms. Neveling has an interesting Facebook page with some illuminating items posted on it. Another site (rather disturbing and insulting to Pagans and Witches and even Satanists alike) with some of her colorful claims can be found here. She certainly seems to think of herself as a kind of "occult survivor" in an attention-seeking sort of self-glorifying way, making a big play of her journey, having "beaten Satanism" through "being washed in the blood of Jesus". It all sounds exciting - like a thrill a minute, especially if you're into that sort of thing - but is any of it true? Or is the truth perhaps more likely that Ms. Neveling has simply swapped one religious delusion for another?
This morning I sent her a message on Facebook:
The SAFM interview you participated in last week cemented for me the whole problem in SA. The problem comes in where generally, "occult experts" who have never ventured out of the comfort of their own religions claim out of their well-entrenched positions of ignorance that anything where Satan is worshiped is "Satanism" - never mind what other Satanists, and even Satanist authority-figures say about it. This is an over-simplistic and completely irrational way of looking at this issue. By the same token, kids that kill people in the name of "Satan" are as much Satanists as those well-documented nuts that kill people because they believe their neighbors are evil 'vampires' or because "God" or "the voices" told them to, are Christians.
The unique character of Satanism in South Africa as referred to by South African Christian so-called “occult experts” is NOT REAL Satanism, but Legend Tripping. That would be the ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY of the whole issue.
Incidentally, the CoS does not have any affiliate groups or chapters anywhere, since it abandoned that system some time ago. Therefore there are no "Churches of Satan" in South Africa, at least NONE that are affiliated to THE actual Church of Satan which is based in San Francisco.
Legend Trippers think of themselves as real actual Satanists because they do the things the police "occult experts" and the press say Satanists do, and live up to the expectations of a fooled public. (The CoS calls these people "devil worshipers".)
That is why when real, spiritual or religious Satanists present themselves and their "mainstream" version of Satanism to these "experts" – and correctly so as a non-criminal belief system, or accuse those who commit crimes in the name of Satan of being mentally ill or suggest that they are trying to evade the responsibility for their actions, they are discredited as liars or accused of "covering up" for the Legend Tripping faux Satanists.
The idea of a non-violent, non-criminal, and non blood-thirsty, non-human sacrificing Satanist just doesn't exist in the minds of most so-called Christian "occult experts" – because it goes against everything they are taught to believe in.
They are taught by their Christian mentors, that Satanism and anything that contradicts their religious doctrine amount to one and the same thing, and that Satanism is to be viewed in the strict biblical sense, deception, destruction, rebellion etc. Apparent "occult survivors" seem to confirm these views – precisely because they have been part of devil worship Legend Tripping rings themselves, run by deluded and dangerous people – and NOT de facto Satanism.
Further, to conflate African traditions such as muti killings etc with a Western religion such as Satanism is false, inaccurate and unethical for someone billed as an "occult expert" - the two are completely separate issues entirely.
Added to that, I have great doubts about most of the claims you made on air, in fact to my mind you were a legend tripper involved with other legend trippers - and that is not Satanism, but a self-deluding form of devil-worship - that is the kind of crime you need to be taking on in SA - not other people's right to freedom of religion. You expect others to be tolerant of your choice to be Christian, then you should also be tolerant to others choices to not be Christian - focus on crime, not religion. Religion isn't crime - CRIME is crime.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
I agree with you, especially about: focus on crime, not religion. Religion isn't crime - CRIME is crime. I received many letters from people since Friday - many disagree with me but almost everyone disagree with one another on the topic as well.
It's like there is no consensus about the general ideas/objectives/principles of satanism.
If there is so much people can't agree within the same movement: why is it so difficult to believe that there are a strong group doing crazy stuff in the name of satanism SA? You are blessed & fortunate not to be part of a group that demands more of you than what you are prepared to give, but to deny the other possibility is like the catholic church denying pedophilia. Have a beautiful day"
"Thank you Adele,
I hope you will take the time to read this email carefully before just casually dismissing it.
I am fortunate enough to have enough savvy to stay out of things I don't feel comfortable with, but I suppose I am also a little cursed with a mouth that won't stay shut when I perceive injustice - even when it doesn't directly affect me.
It is difficult to believe that "there are so many people doing things in the name of Satanism in SA" when the people doing these things are NOT Satanists.
I'm not saying this because I want to pick an argument - I'm saying it because they aren't. Just because THEY seem convinced they are doing these things as acts of supplication or worship of the devil doesn't mean that they are Satanists as defined by formal Satanist religion or by conventions of formal Satanic religion. Just because they say "the Devil made me do it" doesn't mean they aren't mentally ill or suffering from some kind of delusion, personality or other disassociative disorder.
You take any average 14 year old black kid living in poverty, they will feel disillusioned with life, their prospects, their chance to do well in life, to make something of themselves - and then they hear of the stories that tell them Satan will make them powerful and bring them riches, and "all" they need to do is kill a few cats or some relatives they probably don't like very much within the context of their dysfunctional family dynamics anyway... All this is contrary to Satanic teachings and ritual practice. If you really had been a Satanist, you would know this.
But these kids DON'T know this - they are young, under-developed, naive and uneducated - and they believe the stories they are told by their hysterical pastors, the media, the "experts" in the police... they start their own little groups, give them fancy sinister sounding names, play tricks, commit random acts of vandalism, and some escalate this to the next level - and what happens?
And whose fault is it? The religion they believed the lies about - or those who told the lies themselves? That's right - if you want to find the root of this problem, stop the lies, stop the hysteria and stop the scapegoating. Sitting there on air and making claims about other people's religion while representing your own does not make you sound very convincing as an "expert" at all - it just means you are saying all the things people of your own religion want to hear come out of your mouth, like a puppet on a string.
If people commit crimes, address the criminal - not the entire scope of people who identify with a religious belief system and call themselves Satanists - even though there are more than 5 different sects of Satanism and even though 99% of them abide by the law like anyone else and are just as shocked and disgusted as the rest of the world at the horrendous acts and tragedies wrongfully placed at THEIR feet.
I encourage you to do the right thing - not just the thing that everybody wants you to do. Speak the truth, put the lie to rest."
I didn't get another response. But I think this speaks for itself.
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