1. Religion & Spirituality

Is LaVeyan Satanism a Cult?

Evaluating Dangerous Cults


All forms of Satanism are commonly labeled as cultish by those unfamiliar with specific practices and teachings, thanks to rumor, folklore, and a hefty collection of B-movies. Using these guidelines for determining a dangerous cult, let's see how LaVeyan Satanism actually stacks up.

Central Authority In a Single, Charismatic Leader

While Peter Gilmore currently heads the Church of Satan, he is mostly an administrator and teacher. He is considered neither a prophet nor a deity, nor is he infallible. He does not dictate the behavior of individual Satanists and cannot invoke any punishment on members other than having them kicked out for breaking rules of the organization (most commonly law-breaking). He welcomes debate and discussion.

The Founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey, passed away in 1996.

Control Over Life and Death

Satanists are generally against suicide and always consider it a personal choice. Anyone who killed in the name of Satanism would be kicked out and law enforcement would be encouraged to deal with them harshly.

Commission of Felonies

Law-breaking is specifically forbidden by the Church of Satan, and the commission of such is grounds for membership being revoked. The Church also supports swift, severe and just punishment for offenders.

Strict Control Over Lives of Members

Individuality is a core value of LaVeyan Satanism. Attempting to control how members live their lives is completely contrary to their teachings

Separation From Contacts Outside The Group

None. Satanists may associate with whomever they please.

Polarized Worldview

The Church often sees itself as combating herd conformity, mediocrity and other wider social ills, but it doesn't use "good and evil" language, nor does it speak in terms of literal impending battles or wars.

Living In Communal Isolation

Satanism is highly non-centralized. I personally have never hear of a Satanic commune, and if such exists I imagine it would be entirely voluntary with members able to come and go as they please.

Large Required Donations

There is a membership fee to officially join the Church of Satan. However, Church writings repeatedly say that you can be just as effective a Satanist without being a member.

Conformity: Subjection of Individual Desires and Thoughts

Conformity is one of the Nine Satanic Sins.

Punishment For Defection or Criticism

Debate and discussion are generally encouraged, members are welcome to leave at any time, and membership is completely optional.

Group Is Small

When Satanists do work together, groups are generally small. The vast majority of Satanists, however, practice on their own. It is not a highly ritualized religion, and many Satanists never actually perform any rituals. Instead, the principles of Satanism are applied to their daily life and how they live. The total number of LaVeyan Satanists is unknown, but is probably at least in the tens of thousands.


Despite the continuing rumors labeling Satanism as a cult, LaVeyan Satanism scores extremely low on the common warning signs. Many of the behaviors commonly found in dangerous cults are actually specifically contrary to Church of Satan teachings.
  1. About.com
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Alternative Religions
  4. Controversy & Misconception
  5. Satanism
  6. Is LaVeyan Satanism a Cult? - Evaluating Dangerous Cults

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.