Over the last several years, reports of subversive satanic activities have approached epidemic proportions in the media, and within popular culture. Thousands of incidents of alleged satanic activities, including animal mutilations, grave desecrations and child abductions, have been reported across the United States. Fundamentalist evangelical preachers warn that satanism is the force behind heavy metal rock music, "coded" advertising logos, and certain children's games. Law enforcement officials, social workers, and child care workers now attend professional seminars and workshops to learn to recognize "occult crimes", and anti-cult groups sponsor large conferences featuring satanism to promote the two-decade-old cult scare. Belief in a large-scale satanic conspiracy is clearly widespread and growing, in the general public and among some opinion leaders. In view of such concern over satanism as a threat to American life, the topic has received surprisingly little serious attention. Recognizing this, the editors of this volume have selected papers from a wide variety of disciplines, broadly covering contemporary aspects of satanism from the vantage points of studies in folklore, cults, religion, deviance, rock music, rumour, and the mass media. Several themes emerge from this book. All contributors are sceptical of claims that a large, powerful satanic conspiracy can be substantiated. Their research focuses instead on claims about satanism and on the question of whose interests are served by such claims. Several papers consider the impact of anti-satanism campaigns on public opion, law enforcement and civil litigation, child protection services, and other sectors of American society. The constructionist perspective adopted by the editors does not deny the existence of some activities by "real" satanists, and two papers describe the workings of satanic groups. Whatever the basis of the claims examined and analyzed, there is growing evidence that belief in the satanic menance will have real social consequences in the years ahead.
Walter de Gruyter & Co
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