When I was a kid there was a barber in Braintree Square we called the 'Satan Barber', because he left a lot of reading material in the waiting area with "Satan" emblazoned in the titles. No, he wasn't a disciple of Anton LaVey, he was a born-again Fundamentalist Christian and the books and pamphlets were the usual moronic garbage spewed out by hucksters like Hal Lindsey, Bob Larsen and Jack Chick.
But it spoke to a truth about the Fundamentalist movement- that it glorified Satan and Satanism far more than a thousand LaVeys could ever dream of.
Satan was everywhere in the Fundamentalist imagination, he was all-powerful and all-seeing and his minions were the rich and pretty people who ruled the world. His followers were privileged, well-connected, intelligent and glamorous and you were not. Satan knew your thoughts and your desires and was waiting around every corner to steal your soul.
God and Jesus were strangely impotent in the face of all this devilry, so much so that serious questions need to be raised over whom exactly this movement was/is worshiping. You don't need to necessarily love a deity to worship him- you think the ancient Greeks loved Zeus? You do need to live in awe of his power and accept him as lord of the world, which the Fundamentalists most certainly do.
What's more the modern movement itself was created by corporate titans and intel ghouls with one goal in mind- to empower the very same merciless, Social Darwinist, take-no-prisoners political and economic agenda that Ayn Rand, Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey made the central focus of their teachings. Not only do most Fundamentalists subscribe to those philosophies- in direct defiance of the Gospels- many now are openly championing the radical selfishness of Ayn Rand herself.
Allegedly a "Christian" book
Blatty is a most interesting fellow- he was trained by Jesuits from kindergarten to college and considered becoming one himself. He entered the military instead and became head of the Air Force's Psychological Warfare unit. Quite an accomplishment.
He then wrote a novel stinking strongly of MK Ultra work in mental hospitals that was memorialized in two separate films, Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane and The Ninth Configuration. He went to work for the USIA before making it big in Hollywood.
Gee, that's quite an interesting resume, don't you think? Maybe you should read how about The Exorcist incorporated subliminal techniques developed by the CIA here.
And The Exorcist- which some might interpret as the twisted apologia of the torture and rape of a child by a priest, especially in light of Killer Kane- was instrumental in creating the religious paranoia that helped fuel the Religious Right. But it wasn't alone. There was a sub-genre of films that sowed the seeds, though probably inadvertently; the Pagan Revanchist film.
The Witches aka The Devil's Own (1966) was a kind of proto-Wicker Man- a story about a pagan cult in the English countryside which still practices human sacrifice. There's a whole genre of these films, including the American TV movie Dark Secret of Harvest Home, based on the Tom Tryon novel. These films also helped fuel satanic panic, though that wasn't necessarily the intent of the stories.
It's fascinating to me that these rather placid films sold themselves as horror films simply based on the fact that they revolved around human sacrifice. Why? Because Fundamentalism has worked very hard to revive the practice of human sacrifice, under the aegis of "exorcism" and "faith-healing" and "witch-hunting."
In many ways, this is a new golden age of human sacrifice. Every year hundreds of innocent children are murdered- often by their parents- in order to "glorify" Yahweh (or Allah). It could be an adult man beating out the devil in a small infant with his fists, a mother cutting off her baby's arms on Yahweh's orders, newly minted Christians burning young African orphans as "witches" or the devout parents depriving children of simple medical procedures that would save their lives.
When you allow or cause another human being to die to further the cause of your religious beliefs, you are engaging in human sacrifice. Period. Those who apologize for these practices are almost as guilty as the killers themselves.
The child who dies in agony because his parents believe dialysis is "against God's will" is no less dead than a child burned at the altar of Molech. In fact, his death was infinitely more cruel and unnecessary (and often even more agonizing), since children were usually only sacrificed in pagan times during periods of grave social crisis, such as droughts or plagues. The ancients didn't know any better- people today have no excuse.
Will our culture ever wake from this fever dream? Perhaps. But never underestimate the sheer venality of the human animal, who is always willing to project his own sins onto someone else so he can shed blood with a clean conscience.
The genius of the Fundamentalist movement was to take all that evil and sprinkle a few Bible quotes over it in order to make it more socially acceptable. There's not a sin or perversion that isn't indulged in within the walls of some "church" somewhere, all with the veneer of respectability and moral rectitude.
If there's a better description of Antichrist, I haven't heard it.