By: Randy Payton

Two national publications recently ran excellent articles on the current "Satan-scare" campaign so popular with the media (dovetailing with the media hysteria over the "dangers" of Rock-Metal & Rap music). THE HUMANIST, publication of the American Humanist Association featured a lengthy cover story in their March/April '90 edition called "Giving The Devil His Due" by David Alexander, debunking much of what has been passing as "facts" in the popular media in recent days. All too many of the "experts" on "occult crime" giving "advice" to police departments around the country are extremely dubious as in most cases they are either fundamentalist Christians or get their information from fundamentalist Christians, writes Alexander; hence; "if it isn't Christian by the fundamentalists' definition of Christians, it is automatically Satanic." The article similarly takes the wind out of the sails of MICHELLE SMITH (author of the cheesy MICHELLE REMEMBERS, "one of the seminal books in the current hysteria over Satanic conspiracies in the U.S.") and JACK CHICK (of the equally cheesy, anti-rock, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic CHICK MINISTRIES comic books. Alexander's article also deftly demolishes the misstatements, contradiction's and outright lies of the various "experts" trotted out by that Grand Kahuna of Satan Scare Sensationalism, GERALDO RIVERA....Those professional 'doubting Thomases' over at the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER likewise went over the hysterical ravings of the Satanic Conspiracy mongers with a fine tooth comb, with author S. VICTOR finding "especially disturbing" the fact that "SOME PEOPLE ARE GOING AROUND THE COUNTRY MAKING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FROM LECTURE FEES BY CULTIVATING FEARS ABOUT SATANIC CULTS. Many of these same Satan-hunters have broadcast their claims on national audiences on the TV talk shows. Their WILD, UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS about Satanism have the effect of inflaming passions. Many people can be victimized by their appeals to the scapegoating hysteria." Victor quotes KENNETH LANNING, head of the FBI's special unit in charge of investigating claims about Satanic-cult crimes, in his conclusion of a report on his findings in June 1989, cautioning, "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. An unjustified crusade against those perceived as Satanist could result in wasted resources, unwarranted damage to reputations, and disruptions of civil liberties." Unfortunately, LANNING reports he has "found evidence that these harmful effects of rumor-mongering are already being felt around the country..."

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