by Victoria Jesswein published 2022/11/12 09:28:14 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:28:14-07:00

CultWatch Response Vol. II, Issue 1

From The Editor
By Vicki Copeland

In our story on the Matamoros killings in the last issue of CWR, Kerr Cuchulain quotes an article from the Corpus Christi Times 1/14/89 in which Lindell Bishop of the Central Texas Council of Governments said, "If we didn't do anything else but go into the business of conducting seminars on Satanism, we'd do a booming business". This started a train of thought on the "business" of "occult related crime". A survey of the material in the files of CWR yielded the following bits of information.

From July 1986 to the present, we have documentation on no less than 25 seminars on "occult related crime", ranging in length from 1 to 3 days and in price from $30 to a whopping $489.00, plus room and board.. Frequent guests at these seminars include Lt. Larry Jones (Cult Crime Impact Network), Pat Pulling (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons) Jack Roper (Christian Apologetics Research and Information Service) Joan Christenson (an "adult survivor of ritual abuse"), and Lauren Stratford (author of Satan's Underground). Sites for these seminars included Ft. Collins, CO, Cedar City, UT, Richmond, VA, Valencia, FL, Helena, MT, Warwick, RI, Killeen, TX, Malasoff, TX, Berkeley, CA, Cromwell, CT, and Leawood, KS, to name a few. One of these seminars even advertised a banquet with door prizes on Saturday night (the juxtaposition of a banquet with door prizes after a day of discussing alleged murders, animal mutilations, child abuse, etc., seems at best macabre and insensitive to this author!).

A wide variety of "training aids" on "occult related crime" are available from many different sources, ranging in price from $4.00 for "Witchcraft or Satanism" from BADD to $110 for the "Occult Investigation Slide Training Series and Script" sold by Writeway Literary Associates. Other significant offerings include: "A Basic Guide to the Occult for Law Enforcement Agencies" ($5.00 + $1.50 postage from the Technical Research Institute); "American Focus on Satanic Crime" ($14.95 from Priority One Consultants); "Occult Awareness Manual" ($20.00 from the National Information Network); "Occultism, Satanism and Witchcraft in Our Schools and Society" ($5.00 from Exodus S.A.) and "Occult Related Homicide Clues" ($13.95 from Writeway Literary Associates).

Videotapes are also becoming a profitable item in this industry. We have received information on the following tapes: "Ritual Crime" (18 min., $345, rental $75, from AIMS); "Massacre of Innocence" ($40.00, Contact America); "America's Best Kept Secret" ($19.95, Passport Magazine); "Rising to the Challenge" ($24.95 + $2.50 postage, Parents Music Resource Center); "Identification of the Ritually Abused Child" (40 min, $225, rental $60, Cavalcade Productions); "Treatment of the Ritually Abused Child" (25 min., $195, rental $50, Cavalcade Productions); "Ritual Child Abuse, A Professional Overview" (30 min, $194, rental $50, Cavalcade Productions) and "Revival of Evil" ($40, Cultivate Ministries).

There are also numerous newsletters dealing with the issue of "occult related crime". Those we know of include File 18, Believe the Children, Eagle Forum, Exodus, and W.A.T.C.H. Network. Other organizations such as BADD mail out frequent lists of goods available for sale, and many ministries send out pamphlets and other flyers on "the occult" to those who regularly support them financially.

Audio tapes are available from the various conferences, and many of the people who regularly speak at the conferences have tapes available. The CWR archives include tapes from the 1987 Exodus seminar in San Antonio Texas on occultism and various audio tapes of Christian talk shows featuring Larry Jones, Pat Pulling, etc. The Christian talk shows sell these tapes to the public for anywhere from $6-$10 each.

Books also form an important part of the revenue from this industry. In the last two years, several have been published on the subject of Satanism and occult crime. Titles include Satan Wants You, by Arthur Lyons, Cults that Kill, by Larry Kahaner, Satan's Underground, by Lauren Stratford; The Edge of Evil, by Jerry Johnston, Satanism: Is Your Family Safe, by Ted Schwarz and Duane Empey, Devil on the Run, by Nicky Cruz, The Devil's Web, by Pat Pulling, Like Lambs to the Slaughter, by Johanna Michaelson, and Satanism; The Seduction of America's Youth, by Bob Larson. These books normally retail for $7-$10 paperback, but can range as high as $15-$20 for a hardback version. There are also numerous old titles being sold by the various ministries and agencies involved with "occult related crime". These titles include The Satan Hunter, by Tom Wedge, The Satan Seller, by Mike Warnke, and Halloween and Satanism, by Phil Phillips.

The final money making aspect of this growth industry is the public appearances. Talk show hosts such as Geraldo Rivera, Oprah Winfrey, and Sally Jesse Rafael have at least 2 shows a year each on this subject on the average. The same roster of guests appears on these shows, along with Zena LaVey and Dr. Michael and Lilith Aquino. Mr. Jones, Mrs. Pulling, and others who are authors or considered "experts" are also frequent guests on local television and radio talk shows. Add these revenues to those from books, tapes, newsletters, and their frequent appearances at seminars, and it is not hard to see why this is fast becoming a "growth industry".

In This Issue:

Rowan Moonstone reviews everything (well, almost), including Phil Phillips' book, Halloween and Satanism;

Craig Pierce continues his series on his visit to an Exodus seminar; .. and much, much more ...

CWR Questions Exodus
by Craig Pierce, CWR correspondent

As reports of Satanism grow, Texas investi- gators are often hampered by a complete absence of evidence when responding to publicly alleged claims of devil worship. Born-again cult buster groups making the claims are also causing questions to be raised regarding the legality of their methods of "exit counselling."

In San Antonio, where the issue of teen Satanism has brought forth a group of such "counsellors" as Exodus S.A., police have no evidence of the criminally active group from whom that Exodus claims they are hiding survivors.

"In the four years we've been around, we've gone from informing police and parents to a point where now we're hiding people," said current Exodus administrator, Craig Peterson.

Mr. Peterson made his comment during the opening address of the Exodus S.A. Occult Awareness Seminar in San Antonio on 14 April, 1989. During the keynote speech, Mr. Peterson also referred to his organization as a "deprogrammer group", a term which makes his wife, Exodus founder Yvonne Peterson, uneasy. Naturally, she doesn't want to be identified with the abrasive groups of the 70s that used brain washing techniques "for the greater purpose" on Krishnas and members of other "cults".

"We practice de-indoctrination, not deprogramming," said Mrs. Peterson. "They (cult survivors) are not abused; not locked up."

"I can see a similarity," said Jerry Rieder when asked which term he preferred. Rieder, a self- proclaimed former Satanic High Priest, directs youth seminars for Exodus S.A. He is also a former heavy- metal musician who urges kids to reject rock'n'roll for Jesus. "Music is a form of worship. You either worship God or the Devil, there is no in between," stated Rieder during a lunchtime interview with CWR on 15 April, 1989.

Jerry is a fair example of the born-again Satanic survivor that Americans have become accustomed to seeing on T.V. talk shows. He tells young audiences, teens and pre-teens, how he seduced kids into Satanism with drugs and heavy metal. At the April seminar, he alluded to many gruesome practices of his cult. He even related that he came home one day to discover that his wife had sacrificed their infant daughter. He says that shortly thereafter, he gave up Satanism and turned to Christianity.

Drugs figured heavily during Mr. Rieder's "bad old days" as a Satanic recruiter, and he admits that they took a great toll on him. Like many others on T.V. who have come forward to talk about their cult experiences, he has memory lapses. He identified himself to me as an ordained minister during the interview, but then had trouble remembering who or what denomination had ordained him. He did, however, exhibit a very clear memory of events surrounding the alleged sacrifice of his daughter and claims that God has made him a "renewed man". "Jesus is the light of my life," says Jerry.

Though Mr. Rieder has spoken at many Exodus seminars specifically aimed at the "education" of law enforcement professionals regarding the threat of Satanism, he claims he has never identified his former devil worshipping followers to the D.A. He also told me at the time of the interview that he had not given prosecutors the facts regarding the alleged infanticide performed on his own flesh and blood in Bexar county.

When asked why his wife is not in prison for her part in the alleged sacrifice, Mr. Rieder looked uncomfortable. "I didn't know how to bring her to justice," he replied. When responding to the question about identifying former cult members to prosecutors, he said,"Nobody has contacted me about working with the D.A.'s office." His apparent discomfort grew when reminded that one who fails to report a murder is frequently considered an accomplice to that murder and that there is no statute of limitation on murder.

To be fair to Jerry, it must be pointed out that he has publicly "testified" to his alleged experiences for years. That no officers have as yet gone out of their way to dispute him is hardly his fault. On the other hand, maybe they just don't believe him without more substantial proof.

In a similar vein, Yvonne Peterson claimed at the conference that just one San Antonio teen "survivor" had witnessed over 100 human sacrifices by age 14. She declined to name or produce the lad, saying, as usual, that Exodus was hiding him from fellow cultists. Remaining mindful that about 130 homicides were reported in Bexar County in 1988, this youngster would have been privy to a wave of murder that Charles Manson, John Gacey, and Jack the Ripper couldn't rival. Unfortunately, as with most claims made by the group, not one shred of physical evidence was brought forward and one could infer that Exodus is comfortable with 100 deaths unprosecuted in South Texas. Of course, if there is no evidence of a crime, there can be no investigation.

Bexar County Deputy Sheriff's Investigator, Larry Quintanilla was at the Occult Awareness Seminar to express his department's point of view. Not surprisingly, he doesn't agree with Exodus on their statistics beyond the fact that Satanism does exist. He said that the "hard" evidence police usually look for in an investigation is absent from Exodus' fund of "proofs".

"As far as victims go, they can't tell us where they are or who killed them," says this occult crime investigator. Det. Quintanilla also put to rest the myth regarding the disposition of sacrificial victims in "portable crematoriums". (According to many "cult- buster" groups, this is why there are never any remains,) Such "portable" units are the size of 18-wheelers, he pointed out. He then questioned where teen-age Satanists would buy or hide one, never mind covering up the odor: such units do not have all the features of stationary crematoriums.

"We don't have any ritual sacrifices or murders here in Bexar County," said the detective at the April conference.

Although Mr. Quintanilla quietly blows the doors off of claims of Exodus's spokespersons by asking ,"where is the evidence?", it never seems to stop them from presenting the same unverified claims again at the next seminar. Thusly is the line between allegation and reality blurred by the very people who cry out for police and parents to do something about arcane crime.

The investigative eye may in time actually turn back upon Exodus-style groups or other organizations of this ilk.


The laws of America and the law of their deity are not yet one and the same. For instance, both Mr. and Mrs. Peterson claim that the "ex-cultists" they are hiding do possess hard evidence of crimes they witnesses and/or participated in. In most states, to withhold evidence, even if it is the knowledge of the whereabouts of a witness to a murder, is to become an accessory to the murder; or at the very least an obstruction of justice. This is true whether the witness is "covered in the blood of Jesus" or not.

When I asked Craig Peterson if the local D.A. was regularly informed or given access to the type of information Exodus uncovered, he gave us as passive an answer as Jerry Rieder. "You almost have to let them (the "ex-cultist") do that themselves," he said.

If, as claimed by both Exodus' founder and administrator, Exodus is deprogramming/reindoc- trinating recalcitrant Satanic teens, then Exodus is responsible for the new set of values the kids have. Furthermore, these reprogrammers must be already aware that their "subject" won't go to law enforcement unless told to do so!

What a loop! The Satan-worship alarmists, while self-admittedly concealing and indoctrinating their witnesses, are demanding that law enforcers do something, while on the other hand, the professionalism of Bexar County officers does not allow them to proceed without evidence or witnesses! Det. Quintanilla put it succinctly when he said to me, "We don't investigate religions, only crime."

Satanism, it has been said, will be the crime of the 90s. Certainly groups such as Exodus are right to be concerned, but Jesus alone won't get convictions. Professional law enforcement officers don't need Bible quotations to do their jobs; they need names, dates,and places of alleged criminal acts. Most importantly, they need witnesses to testify in court instead of in church. Vague yet gruesome testimony before PTA and youth groups must be replaced with hard evidence, and, when wild claims are disproven, they must be abandoned. Without substantive action on these crucial elements, the loop remains intact and violent cultists, few as they are, will remain free to damage society. Meanwhile, good cops may justifiably grow suspicious of religious deprogrammer/reindoctrinators' tactics as more of these groups spring up around the country.

If You Were A Subscriber to CWR...

...you would have received the revised edition of Rowan Moonstone's "The Origins of Halloween". All pamphlets published by CWR which are 16 pages or less are included with your subscription. We will be publishing at least 4 pamphlets per year under this policy. Please subscribe now (see the coupon on the last page to enter your subscription).


CWR has received several articles from Texas concerning one Marti Johnston, who is associated with the Cult Awareness Council. In January, 1989, at a meeting in Anahuac, TX, she spoke of witnessing a child sacrifice of an 8-year-old girl from the Tomball, TX area eight years earlier. Shortly after this presentation, Tomball police officer Leroy Michna sought contact with Ms. Johnston in connection with this alleged crime. When his attempts were unsuccessful, he obtained the help of Harris County Assistant D.A. Casey O'Brian. In an article from the Daily Pasadena Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989, O'Brian is quoted as saying, "It was referred to me. I attempted to get hold of Marti Johnston. For whatever reason she won't talk to us. We don't know where she is."

Authorities in the Tomball area say there are no reports of missing girls dating from the time period in which Ms. Johnston claims to have seen the child abducted and killed. "We have no homicide to link it to. Why she would make those claims and then be hesitant to talk with authorities is reason to question her motives," said O'Brian in the Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989.

Johnston's location is known to Dorothy Seabolt of the Houston Cult Awareness Council, according to the Chronicle article, but Ms. Seabolt refuses to disclose Ms. Johnston's location because of fear for Johnston's life. She claims that Johnston has received death threats, and has had to move numerous times in the past to avoid being killed by cult members.

We here at CWR are most happy to see the police investigating these claims. If there is evidence, lets find those responsible for the crime and put them behind bars where they can hurt no one else. If there is no evidence, let's defuse the hysteria before somebody gets hurt.

For further information on this case, refer to the following newspaper articles:

"Crowd Hears About Satanic Cults", Anahuac (TX) Weekly, Feb. 8, 1989 "Assistant DA Wants to Talk to Cult Expert", Humble Echo (Channelview, TX) Feb. 22, 1989 "DA Seeking 'Sacrifice' Information", by Virginia Hahn, Daily Pasadena (TX) Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989 "Tale of Child's Ritual Slaying Vexes Lawmen", by Bill Disessa, Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989

Don't overreact to so-called Satanism
by Patrick Cox
from USA Today, 9/12/89

MENLO PARK, CA -- There was a time when most mental and neurological disorders were ascribed to evil spirits. Schizophrenics, epileptics, even political dissidents and social misfits were burned at the stake or hung on the gibbet to cure their "Satanism".

Superstitious fundamentalism has,unfortunately, undergone a resurgence of late. Atavistic Christians and Shiite Moslems have found a perfect explanation for anything they don't understand -- Satanism. Curiously, however, the stated symptoms of the condition are largely indistinguishable from puberty.

The rare criminal who says, "The devil made me do it" provides sufficient evidence of rampant devil worship for the folks who believe that Elvis is still alive and that UFOs are kidnapping thousands of people annually. Nevertheless, it is unclear how many of those criminals are truly psychotic and how many are simply clever enough to serve their sentences in mental institutions rather than the prisons.

So-called television journalists have contributed to the phenomenon by publicizing the allegations of those who lack the ability or will to understand mental illness or artistic expression. But far more people are being killed in the name of God in Beirut and Belfast than have ever been murdered by psychotics claiming allegiance to Satan. The wild rumors of kids abused by Satanists pale compared to the number of adolescents actually molested by priests and ministers. And children regularly die because of the denial of food or medical care by Christian parents.

Perhaps that's why both satanic and pagan trappings appear in the inevitable expressions of adolescent rebellion against authority. If it's shocking, some people will do it. If ours were a Satanist society, heavy-metal records played backward would contain Christian Scriptures.

Though low-level law enforcement contains its share of fundamentalist paranoids calling for a new Inquisition, there's no evidence of any widespread Satanist movement. If we're going to establish new psychiatric institutions, maybe they should be used to treat those who hallucinate the devil behind every social anomaly.

by Rowan Moonstone

"Experts Say Tales are Bunk: Rumors Abound but nothing proves that cults exist", by Rex Springston, Richmond News Leader, April 6 & 7, 1989

Investigative reporter Rex Springston took on the volatile issue of the alleged Satanic Cult conspiracy and came to the same conclusion that increasing numbers of investigators are coming to; namely, that the story is an "urban legend".

Interviewed in the course of investigating the story were FBI Special Agent Kenneth V. Lanning; Robert D. Hicks, Analyst for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services; Dr. Shawn Carlson from the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion; Dr. Marc Galanter, a New York psychiatrist and author of a book on cults; Lt. Larry Jones, founder of Cult Crime Impact Network and editor of "File 18"; Patricia Pulling, founder of Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons; Arthur Lyons, author of "Satan Wants You" and "Satanism in America"; Dr. Martin T. Orne, Univ. of Pennsylvania psychiatrist and psychologist; and Dr. Jeffrey S. Victor of Jamestown (NY) Community College, who has just conducted a year-long investigation into Satanic rumors.

The vast majority of the experts interviewed said that there is NO corroborating evidence for the allegations of national or international Satanic conspiracies. Says Lanning, "Total up the stories and people are alleging the murders of hundreds of thousands of people and we don't have a clue. If you believe this, this is the greatest - and I mean greatest by a thousandfold - criminal conspiracy in the history of mankind ... Nobody is this good."

But Jones and Pulling dispute this attitude. Jones claims that "Satanists perform thousands of sacrifices a year - perhaps 50,000 or more." And Pulling states, "the number of Satanic sacrifices could be 10 a year and could be as many as 10,000 and up ... We have no way of knowing."

Hicks says, "Lots of police hours have been spent looking for evidence of cult survivors' stories, digging up parking lots (for bodies and bones) and things like that. To my knowledge, no cult survivor story has been verified." Lanning and Lyons attribute the "survivor" stories to the book "Michelle Remembers", which was written by Dr. Lawrence Pazder and his then-patient (now wife) Michelle Smith in 1980. The two men claim there are no survivor stories which became public before the publication date of the book.

When asked about specifics to the Richmond area, Pulling replied that she had confidential police information but said to talk about local sacrifices would be "overstepping my bounds". Ms. Pulling made other accusations as well that could not be substantiated. For instance, she and Officer Lawrence E. Haake of the Richmond Police Department allege that there are criminal Satanists who are doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers and other prominent people, yet neither could cite one case in which a person had been proven to be a Satanist involved in serious criminal activity.

Pulling also alleged that 8% of the Richmond area was involved with Satanic worship. Mr. Springston points out that this number is approximately 56,000 - more than the number of United Methodists in the Richmond area and nearly the entire population of Hanover County. Pulling then amends her statement to say that this figure was including everyone involved in any way with the occult. When asked as how she arrived at the figure, she stated that she estimated that 4% of the teens and 4% of the adults were involved. When informed that this works out to an overall number of 4%, she replied that it didn't matter, as the estimate was probably conservative anyway.

"Satanism: Where are the Folklorists?", by Phillips Stevens Jr., and "A Rumor-panic About a Dangerous Satanic Cult in Western New York", by Jeffrey S. Victor, New York Folklore, Vol. XV, 1-2 1989 , pp.1- 22

In the editorial "Satanism: Where are the Folklorists?", Mr. Stevens goes into the history of scares and panics and notes the Inquisition in Europe, the Proctor and Gamble "Man in the Moon" incident, and the 1950's communist "witch-hunt".

After a lengthy history of Satanism, the concept of the Millennium is addressed. He points out that there are great sociological similarities to the rumors we are seeing now, and the events in Europe as the year 1000 approached.

Of great interest to me was the illustrations he gave of two cases broadcast on Buffalo television stations, declaring that Satanic activity was rampant in the area. On closer inspection and investigation, these allegations were found to be false ... but, no follow-up report was done to inform the public of this fact. I wonder just how many other cases of this kind are occurring around the country?

tevens is particularly upset that the Native American beliefs and the Afro-Caribbean beliefs, such as Santeria and Voudoun, are being lumped in the "Satanic" category. He notes numerous articles and incidents in which the ignorant perpetuate rumors with no truth to them whatsoever which result in the persecution of practitioners of such beliefs.

Those who come in for the most criticism from Mr. Stevens are those he labels "the experts"; he cites poor scholarship, lack of credentials, and downright greed as points of contention. One interesting question he raises concerns funding for the individual law enforcement officers to attend training seminars on occult crime. Simply put,"These seminars are advertised among police agencies; were the fees paid out of public funds?" (Is anybody listening?)

Folklorists should get involved NOW, he insists, before someone gets hurt in the panic. He sees a great need for study and research and explanation of what is and more importantly, what is NOT happening, and explanations for it all in light of history and mythology. In his words, "the folklore of Satanism is snowballing, and it is in serious need of explication by people who know what they're talking about."

Dr. Victor's article addresses a problem that CWR has treated with before: tracking an "urban legend" (CWR # 5). He narrows the focus of the Satanic rumor-mongering to one specific outbreak in the Jamestown N.Y. area in the spring of 1988. Through interviews with hundreds of students, parents, police, ministesr, and newspaper reporters, Dr. Victor and his sociology students tracked this rumor, beginning with an Oct. 31, 1987 Halloween party.

The flames of rumor were fanned by an episode of the "Geraldo Show" on Nov. 19, 1987, dealing with "Satanic Cults and Children". This show prompted telephone calls to local ministers by concerned parents, and the Thomas Sullivan case in January of 1988 further inflamed public sentiment. Other ministers began to speak to their congregations about the possibility of Satanic involvement by teens, and by May 13, the full blown rumor was that a Satanic cult was seeking victims for a human sacrifice.

The community response to this rumor surprised Victor; "many parents, for example, held their children home from school out of fear that they might be kidnapped by 'the cult'. Absences from elementary schools were three or four times greater than average. Over 100 cars showed up at a rumored ritual site in a wooded area, where they were stopped by police barricades. Some of the cars had weapons in them: clubs, knives and hunting guns. Several teenagers who were falsely rumored to be in 'the cult' received telephone death threats from adults. At a warehouse rumored to be another meeting place of 'the cult' about $4,000 of damage was done to musical equipment and interior walls. The police, school officials, and the youth bureau received hundreds of telephone calls reporting bizarre incidents. People reported seeing things that did not exist and having knowledge about events that did not occur."

Dr. Victor goes on to speak about myths and why and how they are created and what function they serve in society. He treats specifically with scapegoats such as Jews, Witches, Blacks, etc. and their relation to those myths. As Victor is a sociologist, he offers some interesting sociological insights as to why this myth is re-appearing in our culture at this time. The piece is exquisitely detailed and documented and is HIGHLY recommended. New York Folklore can be obtained by writing:

Phillips Stevens, Jr.
Dept. of Anthropology
SUNY at Buffalo
Ellicott Complex
Buffalo, NY 14261
      New York Folklore is to be commended for the painstaking research and documentation on these two fine articles.

"SATANIC, OCCULT, RITUALISTIC CRIME: A LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSPECTIVE" by Kenneth V. Lanning, Supervisory Special Agent, Behavioral Science Instruction and Research Unit, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia (June, 1989)

In the almost 5 years that I have followed this subject, rarely has such a complete, informative, well- thought-out, and well-researched document crossed my desk. Mr. Lanning has done a superb job of pinpointing the problems associated with the current approach to the problem of so-called "occult crime".

He begins with a overview of the general curriculum of an occult crime training seminar, noting that the topics covered include an historical overview of Satanism, Witchcraft and Paganism, fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal music, "stoner" gangs, teen suicide, crimes by self-styled satanic practitioners, ritualistic child abuse, organized Satanic groups, and the "Big Conspiracy" theory. These topics are all strung together, implying that (1) there is a continuum of behavior, and (2) this material is all documented. The remainder of the paper is devoted to debunking those two implications.

Noting the lack of definition of key words, such as "satanic", "occult", and "ritualistic", he says, "simply put, for some people, satanism is any religious belief system other than their own". A list of items, including Freemasonry, Rock Music, the KKK, and Hinduism, have been labeled as "Satanism" at these seminars. In addition to this listing, Mr. Lanning references a book entitled Prepare for War by Dr. Rebecca Brown which lists as "doorways" to satanic power horoscopes, fraternity oaths, and acupuncture, and concludes, "the ideas expressed in this book may seem extreme and even humorous. This book, however, has been recommended as a serious reference in law enforcement training material on this topic."

Mr. Lanning states, "Ritual can refer to a prescribed religious ceremony, but in its broader meaning refers to any customarily repeated act or series of acts. The need to repeat these acts can be cultural, sexual, or psychological as well as spiritual." Included in those rituals are those familiar to all of us, such as the traditional Christmas and Thanksgiving family gatherings.

In the context of social ritual, he addresses the concept of sexual ritualism and says that "deviant acts, such as urinating on, defecating on, or even eviscerating a victim, are far more likely to be the result of sexual ritualism than religious or 'satanic' ritualism." This type of behavior is most often connected with a psychological condition known as obsessive-compulsive behavior. The paper goes on to discuss this topic in some detail and concludes, "the important point for the criminal investigator is to realize that most ritualistic criminal behavior is not motivated simply by satanic or religious ceremonies."

Addressing the problem of ritualistic child abuse, Lanning points out that not all spiritually- motivated ritualistic activity is satanic. Many things that some parents would consider a part of their normal religious activity, such as corporal punishment, or kneeling on the floor while reciting prayers, might be considered ritualistic activity, but not necessarily satanic.

The next question addressed is "What makes a crime satanic, occult, or ritualistic?" Rejected as answers to this question are the presence of certain symbols, the bizarre and cruel nature of the crime, or the date of the crime -- the presence of these elements would beg the question: what then does it mean if a crucifix is found at the site, or if the crime is committed on Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving? He also cites cases in which psychotic killers mutilated their victims with no evidence of any type of "satanic" involvement whatsoever.

Many times the handout material given at occult training seminars to law enforcement officers is conflicting and undocumented. As an example, he cites handouts and reference material that show a range of the number of satanic or occultic holidays from 8 to 110 days a year (plus birthdays, and up to 3 days on either side of these holidays)!

Following this he lists various things that have been done by Christian parents, justified by use of the Bible, which the rest of us might view as child abuse, and comments, "Some people would argue that the Christians who committed the crimes misunderstood and distorted their religion while satanists who commit crimes are following theirs. But who decides what constitutes a misinterpretation of a religious belief system? The individuals who committed the above- described crimes, however misguided, believed that they were following their religion as they understood it."

Mr. Lanning states that he has been unable to clearly define a satanic crime. "Each potential definition presents a different set of problems when measured against an objective, rational, and constitutional perspective." Many times, the facts of the crime are quite different from the media reports and "actual involvement of satanism or the occult in these cases usually turns out to be secondary, insignificant, or nonexistent". But then, ordinary crime doesn't sell newspapers!

"What is the justification for law enforcement officers giving presentations on satanism and the occult to citizen groups, PTA's, or school assemblies? Is it public relations, a safety program, or crime prevention? "This is a very confusing question for a civilian to answer, and Lanning brings out that by introducing themselves as current or former police officers and speaking as religious advocates, these "experts" only confuse the public. He recommends that "officers who believe that the investigation of satanic/occult crime puts them in conflict with supernatural forces of evil should probably not be assigned to these cases." Indeed, it has known to happen that an officer who does NOT believe such things has been suspected of being a cultist.

One of the most perceptive points made in this paper reads, "satanic and occultic crime has become a growth industry. Speaking fees, books, video and audio tapes, prevention material, television and radio appearances all being egoistic and financial rewards."

He points out that law enforcement officials have a job to listen to the facts of a case and to look for evidences of a crime. If crimes are really going on, history and human nature are on the side of exposing the crimes. People make mistakes and leave evidence. The recent incidents at Matamoros, Mexico are proof enough of that.

In closing, Lanning says, "Until hard evidence is obtained and corroborated, the American people should not be frightened into believing that babies are being bred and eaten, that 50,000 missing children are being murdered in human sacrifices, or that satanists are taking over America's day care centers. No one can prove with absolute certainty that such activity has NOT occurred. The burden of proof, however, as it would be in a criminal prosecution, is on those who claim that it has occurred. As law enforcement agencies evaluate and decide what they can or should do about satanic and occult activity in their communities, they might also consider how to deal with the hype and hysteria of the 'anti-satanists'. The overreaction to the problem can clearly be worse than the problem."

As a researcher, I cannot agree with this more. CWR has printed articles describing the hysteria surrounding this issue; it is only a matter of time before someone is hurt if this continues. As a Witch whose beliefs are oftentimes lumped into the "Satanic" scare, I would like to applaud Mr. Lanning for a voice of sanity amidst the hysteria.

The author may be reached at:

Kenneth V. Lanning
Supervisory Special Agent
FBI Academy
Behavioral Science Unit
Quantico, VA 22136
      This article is Public Domain, and reprints are available from CWR. Send $2.00 (ppd.) for each copy ordered to CWR, P.O. Box 1842, Colorado Springs, CO 80901- 1842.

"Satanic Cults: a Skeptical View of the Law Enforcement Approach" (Presentation given at the 11th annual crime prevention conference of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association, Chesapeake, Virginia, June 23, 1989) by Robert Hicks, Criminal Justice Analyst/Law Enforcement Section, Department of Criminal Justice Services

Mr. Hicks begins this informative and enlightening piece with a description of the activities of a convent, using the jargon that he says is common in satanic cult seminars. The use of these terms make the lawful and harmless activities of convents seem sinister and pernicious. The point Mr. Hicks makes is that words such as "cult", "occult", "satanic", and "ritual" being bandied about in the satanic cult seminars are never defined.

Mr. Hicks takes his readers inside the atmosphere of the police training seminars and points out areas in which he sees counterproductive and alarming tendencies -- and they are rampant, if his account is to be believed. Some of the shortcomings listed include insufficient background given on cases used as illustration, the heavy influence of Judeo- Christian values in the presentations of many of the "experts", lack of clear definitions of terms, lack of corroborating evidence for the claims of the "experts", and imprecise or misleading descriptions of crimes.

On the subject of the "experts", Mr. Hicks is even more explicit. He cites the double standard used by the cult crime instructors when pointing to "satanic crime", yet failing to refer to "Christian crime" or "Jewish crime", stating: "Whether or not people can get criminal ideas from belief systems -- whether from Buddhism, Christianity, voodoo, Islam, or anything else ... has little to do with the belief system but rather with a person's own psychological make-up." Mr. Hicks also cites the jumbling together of beliefs such as Wicca and Voudoun with the "Satanic" belief systems.

What Mr. Hicks sees as the most disturbing in all this seems to be the lack of evidence to back up the cult "experts'" claims. He cites normal dynamics of groups (such as personality conflicts, rivalries, jealousies, etc.) as reasons why the large scale conspiracy of the international evil Satanic cult is, at best, an "urban legend".

Mr. Hicks' observations on the book Michelle Remembers were quite interesting -- he made the following comment concerning some points the book raised: "Some curious loose ends remain, though. (Michelle) Smith's father denied the incidents, Smith loved her mother very much, as did her two sisters, not mentioned in the book, who never witnessed any satanic involvement. One sister has been deeply distressed at Smith's representation of her mother. Not mentioned either was the Catholic Pazder's divorce, Smith's conversion as a Catholic and her own divorce in order to marry Pazder, practices frowned upon by the Catholic Church, yet the book extols Catholic ceremonies and ritual as a way to combat Smith's terror."

The subject of ritual abuse is dealt with here by citing the rich abundance of folklore which surrounds Satanism through the centuries; virtually every example of satanic stories found in the cult seminars can be found in the folklore of Satanism.

The media does not avoid Hicks' critical eye either. He cites numerous examples where an overanxious media published stories which they claimed to have "satanic" involvement; when later thorough investigation disproved the satanic theories, the damage remained done. Nobody pays much attention to retractions, which have been few regardless of the facts of these cases. The most graphic example of this is an incident in Indiana several years ago, which involved a legal, non-violent Pagan gathering at a public park. One sheriff's deputy (who had been to an "occult crime" seminar) talked to a reporter (who did not bother to verify anything told to him, and talked to no other source). The resultant story proceeded to describe "animal sacrificing, drinking blood in rituals, nude dancing, or dancing by people in 'devil-like costumes' ... and eating raw flesh." The facts of the case were not even remotely similar to the story, Hicks says, and the group was "not satanic. The satanism was created by the seminar-trained police who spent much time and effort watching the (group) simply because they were not Christians celebrating in a conventional way."

CWR would like to thank Mr. Hicks for a well-researched, factual presentation. Copies of this transcript may be obtained by writing to:

Robert Hicks
Criminal Justice Analyst
Law Enforcement Section
Department of Criminal Justice Services
805 E. Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia, 23219


Pat Pulling, founder of Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (B.A.D.D.) has based this book on her experiences of seven years in dealing with the problem of teen occultism . Ms. Pulling became involved with the issue after her then-16-year-old son "Bink" committed suicide in what she describes as a "Dungeons and Dragons related death". From this beginning of investigating fantasy role-playing games, Ms. Pulling has gone on to investigate such areas as heavy metal music and its relation to crime, violence in entertainment, and the phenomenon of ritualistic child abuse.

Ms. Pulling's research is not what I would call either thorough or reliable. A brief look at some of the citations from the book will give the reader an idea of the quality of the scholarship involved: On page 44, she notes:

"There are certain dates which occultists consider 'high holy days' in Satanism and Witchcraft ... These dates are January 1 (traditionally a Druid feast day)..." The Druids celebrated Nov. 1 as their New Year, and it was a major feast; Jan. 1 had no particular significance.

Further evidences of poor research appear in the glossary at the back of the book. On page 196, she defines the following "Warlock: Originally meaning 'one who breaks faith'. It is more often used by non- witches to refer to a male witch." On the same page, a few lines down, we find the following "Witches Sabbath: Meeting of a witches' coven held in order to perform magical rites and ceremonies. A large number of witches and warlocks who would gather around a bonfire or cauldron, light black candles, and perform sacrifices. The Sabbath would culminate in a sexual orgy." Contrary to this assertion, the meaning of the word "warlock" has never changed, and therefore such a one would not be invited to any Witches' Sabbat.

Then on page 191 she defines "Sabbat: Seasonal assembly of Witches in honor of the Archfiend." Use of the word "Sabbath" (incorrect) for one reference and "Sabbat" (correct) for another is rather strange, for one, and in almost 10 years as a Witch, I have never honored anything that could be called "the Archfiend".

      Many other researchers in this field have taken issue with Ms. Pulling in the past; in Chapter 4, "The Satanic Network", she addresses this issue. Referring to an article which appeared in the Richmond News Leader (reviewed elsewhere in this issue of CWR) she states the following: "The reporter had gone to a great deal of trouble to find a number of 'authorities' who would support the angle of his article ... The two-part series quoted a number of people who have set themselves up as experts on the subject of occult activity and used these quotes to argue the statements made by the police officer and me. The reporter failed to mention, however, that one of his naysaying sources is a former member of the Church of Satan whose current level of involvement is unknown. Another source has been 'investigating' this subject for less than a year and his 'research' consists of little more than reading a smattering of articles and books."

What Ms. Pulling fails to mention in her book is that the "naysayers" she talks about here include the following:

- FBI Special Agent Kenneth Lanning, who works extensively with the issue of occult crime and with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and has for many years;

- Robert Hicks, Analyst for the Department of Criminal Justice Services in Richmond, who holds a Masters Degree in Anthropology, and who presented a paper to the 11th annual conference of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association, June 23, 1989. CWR has obtained a copy of the transcript of his speech and has found that it is entirely consistent with the research of Mr. Lanning and our own staff;

- Dr. Shawn Carlson, who is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (see CWR, Vol. I, Issue 4);

- The "former member of the Church of Satan" mentioned was Arthur Lyons, who has written two books on the subject of Satanism through two decades of first-hand research. Mr. Lyons states that Anton LaVey would not talk to him unless and until he paid $20 to join; he likens this to an FBI agent joining the KKK for investigative purposes;

- One can only assume that the source she scoffed at for spending less than a year in research on the subject is Dr. Jeffrey S. Victor of Jamestown, NY. Dr. Victor is a sociologist who has spent a year of intensive study on the subject of Satanic rumor-mongering in his area of NY state. His research findings parallel the findings in "Tracking an Urban Legend" (CWR, Vol. I, Issue 5).

      Dr. Victor describes this research as follows: "My research methods included interviews I conducted with a wide variety of community authorities, including police, school officials, youth group workers, ministers, psychotherapists, and newspaper reporters. The Jamestown Police Department was exceptionally helpful in providing me with non-confidential information regarding their own investigations of the various rumor stories. I also interviewed newspaper reporters from other towns in the region, who covered the story. Students from one of my classes conducted interviews with 49 local area teenagers, parents and informal authority figures (such as teachers and ministers), shortly after the rumor-panic occurred. One student, on an independent study project, did a research study of teenage peer group conflict in Jamestown in reaction to the rumors, interviewing 30 teenagers from different youth sub-cultures. Another student, who is a minister, is currently conducting interviews of fundamentalist and mainline Protestant ministers, relative to the reactions to the rumor stories. I also have information from my own participant observation ... having a teenage son in the local high school at the time. As a teacher in a community college, most of my students (youth and adults) are from the local area. Many of them talked to me at length about the rumors. I also obtained useful information from documents, including school attendance records and reports from local government agencies." (From "A Rumor-Panic About a Dangerous Satanic Cult in Western New York", by Jeffrey S. Victor, New York Folklore Magazine, Vol. XV Nos 1- 2, 1989, p. 25 & 27.)

Compared to the above sources, this reviewer would love to know how Ms. Pulling's credentials stack up. The use of the phrase, "people who have set themselves up as experts", when referring to the above persons, would seem inaccurate at best and either arrogant or self-serving at worst.

Ms. Pulling does make some good points in the area of parent-child communications. She stresses that parents should be aware of what their teens are doing, and whom they are associating with; wise advice from whatever quarter. But her allegations of Satanic rituals in which sexual orgies and murder take place (and, she claims, are videotaped) are as yet unfounded.

All in all, this is NOT a book which I could reccomend for either scholarship or informative content, as it is entirely too full of unfounded rumor, speculation, and downright sloppy research. Real information is available from reliable sources; it is too bad that Ms. Pulling has disregarded it apparently because it does not fit her Satanic conspiracy theories.

By Phil Phillips and Joan Hake Robie
Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, PA 1987

This book is highly recommended by many organizations as being the definitive reference book on Halloween for the Christian and police. While Rev. Phillips has done more historical research than the average Christian investigating pre-Christian religious customs, his work falls far short of what I would term adequate. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the book is the lack of references for the first two chapters, which contain the majority of the historical information.

Phillips persists in such inaccuracies as stating that Stonehenge was built by Druids (scholars now agree that the structure had stood on the plain for many hundreds of years before the arrival of the Celts with their Druidic priesthood), that Halloween was originally held in honor of a Celtic deity called "Samhain" (while Samhain was the name of the festival, there is no evidence to indicate that the name was ever applied to a deity. See "The Origins of Halloween" by Rowan Moonstone, available from CWR), and that the Celts also worshipped a deity named "Muck Olla". Muck Olla was mentioned by W.G. Wood-Martin in Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland , but the practice is limited to one small area of the British Isles in the villages of Ballycotton and Trabolgan and is unknown outside this small geographic area. There is no indication that Muck Olla was a sun god, as alleged by Phillips. The native inhabitants of the British Isles did have solar deities; the Irish deity was Lugh and the Welsh was Llew.

Phillips then proceeds to go into several chapters on the evils of everything from Pennsylvania hex signs to ouija boards and tarot cards. While this might have relevance in his Christian belief system, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween or law enforcement. Police should be concerned with CRIME, not the religious practices of individuals.

As proof that the things he alleges in the book are true, Phillips uses testimony from three women who have written books on the subject. I have read all of these books.

Roberta Blankenship in her book "Escape From Witchcraft" alleges that in England in the 60s and 70s there was a huge organized underground of "black witches" who met to do all sorts of evil things. She claims to have risen to be their High Priestess and Witch Queen, and then abdicated after she became a Christian.

Johanna Michaelson wrote of her experiences as an assistant to a psychic surgeon in Mexico in "The Beautiful Side of Evil". By far, hers is the most well-researched and documented book, although I personally find the concept of psychic surgery difficult to believe.

The third woman, "Dr." Rebecca Brown, is the author of 2 books entitled "He Came To Set The Captives Free" and "Prepare For War", published by Starburst (the publisher of Phillips' book). CWR has learned that Dr. Brown's original name was Ruth Bailey, and that while a physician in the state of Indiana, she had her license revoked by the state Medical Board on Oct. 2, 1984. Listed reasons for the revocation include citations that she "knowingly and intentionally misdiagnosed her patients including, but not limited to ... Edna Elaine Moses ... That on numerous occasions she stated to her patients that she was 'chosen' by God as the only physician able to diagnose certain ailments and conditions which other physicians could not because the other physicians ... were in fact, 'demons,devils and other evil spirits' themselves. That on numerous occasions Respondent misrepresented and falsified prescriptions ... That Respondent has stated on numerous occasions that she possessed the capability of 'sharing' her patients' illnesses in fighting demons, devils and other evil spirits. That without a valid therapeutic reason the Respondent self-diagnosed and self-medicated herself with non-therapeutic amounts of Demerol." The Board revoked Dr. Bailey's license, and she has not applied for reinstatement in any state to date. (quoted from legal transcript of the case of Ruth Bailey, M.D. Medical Licensing Board of Indiana Cause No. 83 MLB 038) As is customary, no reason was given for her name change.

It strains credibility and insults the intelligence of the reader to be asked to rely on a work of such sloppy research and shaky foundations as a "reference work".

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