Dustin Siggins

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Signs of the times: Is worshipping Satan protected under religious freedom?

Dustin Siggins

In America, we tend to support more religious freedom than less. And after last week's Supreme Court decision to allow prayer at public meetings, Catholics and other Christians rejoiced.

However, that freedom is now being tested by two groups that are using Harvard and the state of Oklahoma as Ground Zero for poking a stick in the eye of Christianity.

First up is the group re-enacting a Satanic "Black Mass," which was designed to offend and mock Catholics. (Unlike a true "Black Mass," the organizers say they are not using a consecrated host.) The student group hosting the event said it is meant to be "educational," not disrespectful, according to Fox News:

“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead learn and experience the history of different cultural practices," the club's statement said. The statement went on to say that the mass will use a piece of bread but will “unequivocally” not use a consecrated host. 

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic group says if Christians can have the Ten Commandments on public property, they can have a statue of Satan:

While many of the project’s backers are Satanists — as in, they worship Satan — the piece is actually intended to make a broader point: That a statue of the Ten Commandments on public property seems to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which separates church and state. (This view is also held by the ACLU, which is challenging the Oklahoma government’s right to display the Ten Commandments.)

So what does this all mean? A few thoughts:

First, this is nothing new. Mockery of Christianity, and worship of Satan, have long been part of human history.

Second, this is one of the risks of defining freedom as the ability to do what one wants, not what's best for a person or society. In other words, the secular definition of "freedom" technically allows one to do more...but true freedom relies on Christ.

Clearly, using the Prince of Darkness as the launching pad of religious freedom fails to rely on Christ.

Third, this is a sign of our time. Morally, the president of Harvard has said she is attending tonight's Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction held in response to the Black Mass re-enactment. While it is good to see such a prominent person using the Church to stand against support for Satan, the question must be asked: Does Satanic worship qualify as "religion," especially when its sole purpose is to cause harm to society?

Likewise, such harmful activities would have been condemned a century ago, if even acknowledged. But modern technology means the Black Mass re-enactment has gotten national attention -- which is probably what the organizers intended.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air put it well:

The educational argument for conducting the ceremony is nonsense. One can have a lecture on the practices of satanists without actually conducting their rituals. Are Harvard students so obtuse that they couldn’t learn about Aztec history without watching a human sacrifice re-enactment, to use just one example? This is just an attempt to attack Christianity and the Catholic and Orthodox faiths in particular by conducting a denigration of their worship practices. If Harvard feels that this qualifies as educational freedom, I wonder what would happen if their extension club mocked Islam in a similar manner. I’d bet they wouldn’t be nearly as sanguine about that kind of campus event, nor should they be.

Morrissey also pointed to how a local priest asked if Harvard would be so accepting of re-enacting a KKK ceremony.

Fortunately, the Archdiocese of Boston is not taking this insult lying down, which is important since the same group pushing for the Oklahoma statue is involved in the Black Mass re-enactment. Via The Boston Globe:

“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship,” the archdiocese said. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”

A black mass is an often obscene mockery by satanic cults of the Mass performed in the Catholic Church. The ritual, for example, might substitute the bare back of a woman for an altar. To complete the desecration, the black mass generally uses a consecrated host, the bread or wafer blessed at Mass that Catholics believe is the body of Christ.

 So what do these situations say about our times? Mostly, they indicate the hypocrisy of our culture, which promotes immoral sexual relationships, sleeping around, and abortion -- and arguments against those practices are condemned. But a Black Mass re-enactment brings full-fledged support for the secular version of "freedom."

I wonder what would happen if the same college group burnt a Koran for the "educational" discussion that would ensue...

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