The ‘Satanic Panic’ Revisited  

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by Jesse Russell  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 7, 2019   

Navigating between truth and fiction

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For the past 20 years, secular pop culture has been stuck in a replay loop of 1980s nostalgia.  

From popular Netflix series Stranger Things, to the reintroduction of "synth wave" electronic music (ushered into the post-millennial period by the brilliant but gruesome 2011 Ryan Gosling film Drive), to the triumphant return of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, men and women within the United States have (with perhaps some desperation) attempted to entrench themselves in the era of big hair and big defense spending under the Reagan administration.

This 1980s nostalgia, however, is not merely a passing faddish desire for the novelties of retro Nintendo games and classic movies like The Karate Kid, which recently has been revisited into the YouTube series Cobra Kai.  

Eighties nostalgia reveals a deeper spiritual malaise within those living in the post-millennial period.  

Eighties nostalgia reveals a deeper spiritual malaise within those living in the post-millennial period.  

Throughout the 1980s under the (at the time) towering and comforting presences of Cold Warriors such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, many throughout the West felt safely assured that everything would be safe.

The largely homogenous and sheltering small-town feeling of movies such (the terribly vile) 1985 films The Goonies, The Explorers as well as the very weird 1982 E.T. — all of which are evoked in the contemporary series Stranger Things — is exceptionally appealing to so many Americans today who feel like strangers in their own country and who wander about the internet without a sense of community identity or purpose. 

For Catholics rooted in the perennial teaching of the Church and who have a deeper historical sense than the average Joe or Jill millennial, such a nostalgia for the 1980s — a time in America in which the terrible and dramatic changes allegedly mandated by the Second Vatican Council were beginning to take their effect under the Machiavellian and deeply corrupt reign of Cdl. Joseph Bernardin — seems a bit silly.

Moreover, rather than being a period of cohesion and stability, the 1980s were, in fact, a period of tremendous chaos and moral degeneracy.

As state after state legalized "no-fault divorce" and television shows and movies normalized the archetypes of the working single mother as well as the callous playboy deadbeat dad, the American family was slowly being torn asunder.

At the same time, Americans were bombarded with a series of horror films, ranging from slasher series like Halloween and Friday the 13th to more sophisticated psychological flicks like A Nightmare on Elm Street and a series of film adaptions of the novels of Stephen King.  

Rather than being a time of peace, prosperity and moral stability, the 1980s was, at least on a certain level, a time of tremendous chaos and anxiety.  


This chaos and sense that the very heart of America was under attack manifested itself in a variety of waves of "panic" that swept the country during the 1980s.   

One of the many panics of the "The Me Decade" that has drawn the attention of social commentators is the phenomenon of what has been called the "Satanic Panic."  

There are two narratives of the Satanic Panic in contemporary discourse.

The first narrative is presented by concerned Christians — admittedly, many of them Protestants — who argue that a strange network of satanic cults, founded in the 1960s and 70s, sprung up throughout the United States.

In addition to various criminal activity such as human and drug trafficking, these cults engaged in ritual abuse of children and young people at macabre rituals. Many of these satanists had strange ties with both local and federal government and were thus protected from prosecution.

Thus, while during the 1980s the American people were being bombarded with increasing levels of pornography and grotesque violence via an increasingly hostile Hollywood media, there were people committing such crimes against the American people "in real life."

Some of the most pronounced alleged cases of ritual abuse included the notorious Franklin Scandal made famous by the 1994 Discovery Channel documentary Conspiracy of Silence 

The second narrative of the Satanic Panic is provided by the mainstream media. It argues that although there may have been a few isolated incidents of satanic ritual abuse, there was no wider network of satanists in the country, and many of the claims made by concerned Christians were the result of paranoid and fevered imaginations.

Throughout the 1990s and the first portion of the 21st century, the second narrative of the Satanic Panic largely won out.  

During the Clinton era, Americans could largely still pretend that everything was OK in the country and that the system fundamental worked. Those who challenged the system were cranks and cooks.

As the country rounded the second millennia since the birth of Christ, American attention was largely directed toward the external threat of Islamic terrorism, and those who argued that something about was wrong at the heart of the American system were viewed as unpatriotic subversives.

However, in our own age, stories of organized human trafficking, sexual abuse and New Age rituals (if not outright satanism) blend together in a terrible witches' brew, with cases like the NXIVM Cult and the Brazilian John of God Cult as well as the Jeffrey Epstein case, which have become the "new normal" for mainstream news.  

Now is the time to rip the mask off the corrupt and decadent system that has hijacked our Church.

Moreover, the host of celebrities, politicians and financial figures linked with, if not active participants in, those organizations dwarfs even the wildest accusations during the Satanic Panic. It is almost as if a network of satanic cults actually does rule the world.

What is especially disturbing for Catholics is the fact that these networks of sexual abuse linked with occultism reach into our own Church — as Church Militant recently revealed with the case of Cdl. Joseph Bernardin.

However, these revelations of what appear to be networks of satanic ritual abuse give Catholics a broader perspective on the clerical abuse crisis.

It is not as though the Catholic priesthood is ipso facto a degenerate institution or that the priesthood is essentially a haven for moral degenerates. On the contrary, it is very plausible that the clerical abuse scandal in the Church is an extension or "cell" of a wider network of degeneracy and criminal activity that is endemic with the globalist structure that now completely dominates much of the world.

It would further explain why so many powerful clerics in the Church — even those at the highest level — are so deferential to secular authority figures and ready to cave in to any globalist scheme — no matter how detrimental it may be to the Church's mission.

Those good priests and few good bishops in what is left in the Christian West deserve our support and protection.  

However, now is the time to rip the mask off the corrupt and decadent system that has hijacked our Church.

Jesse Russell is a writer for a variety of Catholic publications.

 

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