Infernally Asked Questions
Q: What is Satanism?
A: “Satanism” refers to any number of religions that venerate the mythical figure of the devil. Satanic Bay Area is an atheistic Satanist organization; we don’t believe that any gods or devils actually exist, but instead we appeal to Satan as a character in art, fiction, and myth, whose imagined example provides guidance, comfort, and inspiration.
Q: How can you be a Satanist and an atheist?
A: Most American Satanists are atheists, and the concept of atheistic religion, though unusual in America, is centuries old. Religions provide adherents with moral and philosophical guidance, inspiration, and community, usually drawn from a story or set of stories, from the Hebrew Bible through L. Ron Hubbard. For us, the story of Satan — in myth, art, and popular culture — does the same. The only difference is that we acknowledge that our myths are myths.
Q: Why Satan?
A: Satan, as he’s imagined in most cultural and artistic traditions, is the universe’s first revolutionary, and thus a uniquely qualified icon for our mission statement of resisting arbitrary authority and empowering marginalized individuals and groups. Over the centuries, the label “Satanist” has been used to stigmatize certain ideals we hold dear, like feminism, atheism, queer rights, bodily agency, artistic freedom, subversiveness, and scientific literacy, and today we embrace that label as emblematic of our values.
Q: Do you eat babies and sacrifice people to the devil?
A: Entrenched cultural fears about “Satanic cults” and violent devil worship are urban legends, and in fact the number of crimes committed by adherents of mainstream religions dwarfs the misdeeds of self-styled Satanists. Satanic Bay Area never endorses or participates in any violent act — and why would we? We’re nice people.
Q: What’s “Satanic Panic?”
A: During the ’80s and ’90s, America and other English-speaking countries experienced a moral panic in which thousands of people were accused of participating in secret devil worshiping cults, and many were put on trial on allegations of ritual murder and child abuse. Reviewing the period now, it turns out essentially none of these cases had any merit, and historians and sociologists refer to this mass hysteria as the “Satanic Panic,” a phenomena which was very formative for many actual Satanists who lived through it.
Q: Do you believe in magic?
A: Although we often conduct religious rituals and ceremonies that draw from and imitate various “magical” traditions, these Black Masses are purely performance art, and we don’t believe any real supernatural powers are invoked or even exist. Some of our individual members may believe in or practice such things—we’re not here to police anyone’s thoughts or feelings—but Satanic Bay Area itself serves purely atheistic purposes.
Q: I heard Satanism is all about Ayn Rand and being a libertarian or a Nazi?
A: Certain other San Francisco-based Satanist religions have a longstanding association with far-right ideas and aesthetics, but we have nothing to do with them. Most of our members and public actions are intentionally left-leaning, because after all this is San Francisco.
Q: Are you the Satanic Temple?
A: Satanic Bay Area is not an official chapter of the Satanic Temple, although many of our members are also TST members and we sometimes collaborate with TST chapters. No affiliation with TST is necessary to participate in SBA.
Q: How can I get involved or learn more?
A: Satanic Bay Area hosts a monthly meet and greet at Wicked Grounds Coffee Shop in San Francisco on the third Thursday of every month, and all comers are welcome. Check our calendar for upcoming social hours, political actions, and Black Masses.
Q: Did you change your name?
A: Satanic Bay Area was founded in 2015 as Satanic San Francisco. In 2018 we switched to our current name. We have active members all over the San Francisco Bay Area and frequently host events in the East Bay, and we’re always looking to forge relationships in other communities.