On my Theistic Satanism blog, venusinpieces posted a comment below my post Christine O’Donnell’s alleged “little midnight picnic on a satanic altar”, asking me to look at her allegations of what she calls “satanic ritual abuse” while at the same time saying that “the label of satanic ritual abuse somewhat of a misnomer, because the majority of these organizations tend towards a more syncretic religious style.” She also says, “I am actually quite inspired by many cultures that could be classified as satanic.”
She then pointed me to a link to a post on her own blog, Elite Human Trafficking: updated. The post contains a mix of personal experience, stories she has heard from acquaintances, and stuff she has read, mostly from “conspiracy theory” sources.
Since I don’t know her personally, I have no way of knowing whether her alleged personal experiences are true. For now, I will assume for the sake of argument that they are all true. Even so, they do not prove the existence of the distinct alleged phenomenon known as “Satanic ritual abuse.”
There do exist some organized criminal gangs that function as religious cults. One of the biggest and best-organized religious gang/cults, La Familia Michoacana, does its thing in the name of evangelical Christianity. A smaller religious gang/cult that existed back in the 1980’s, headed by Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo, practiced ritual murder in the form of human sacrifice. So, gang/cults that practice human sacrifice as a religious ritual do exist, though known instances are rare.
However, the term “Satanic ritual abuse” typically refers to something much more specific than just a criminal religious gang/cult with violent religious practices. In the 1980’s, it was typically alleged that SRA was practiced by generations-old, centuries-old, or even millenia-old family cults that had somehow managed to keep their existence secret for lo those many generations, despite regular human sacrifices every year. SRA allegations came from two main sources: (1) people with “recovered memories,” often though not always arising from the use of hypnosis, and (2) children who had been interviewed by therapists asking lots and lots of leading questions.
Back in the 1980’s, a widespread psychotherapy fad held that all sorts of common emotional problems, including even just overeating, were most likely caused by repressed memories of child sexual abuse. It was alleged that recovering those horrific memories was essential to healing. So, lots of people aimed to “recover” their memories via hypnosis and other questionable techniques. Most of these “recovered memories” involved just garden variety child molestation, but a large minority were much more horrific. Such “recovered memories” are notoriously unreliable.
SRA claims soon merged with the “conspiracy theory” subculture. It was then claimed that the SRA cults were, in one way or another, intertwined with CIA mind-control projects whose purpose was to “program” Manchurian candidate-style assassins. These claims, too, were based largely on “recovered memories.” Hence I’m not inclined to give them much credence.
Project MK-ULTRA did indeed exist and did indeed involve various abuses, including experiments conducted without the subjects’ consent.
But this doesn’t mean that all allegations about MK-ULTRA — or about any alleged subsequent “mind control” projects — are necessarily true. In particular, I find it very hard to believe that the CIA could recruit a large number of middle-class and upper-class parents to torture and “program” their own children. I also think it highly unlikely that the CIA would “program” children at day care centers like the McMartin Preschool. I would have less trouble believing that some horrible mind-control experiments might have been conducted on the prisoners at Guantanamo, or on groups of homeless people or illegal immigrants.
Venusinpieces also talks about “human trafficking” gangs involved in prostitution. She correctly notes that this issue has been used as a political football by ideologues of various stripes. Most likely, such gangs do indeed exist. Unfortunately, this issue has been exaggerated and sensationalized by anti-porn/anti-prostitution activists, including not only some religious right wingers but also some feminists. Alas, such activists are like the boy who cried wolf. When too many people make exaggerated claims about a given problem, it tends to discredit even valid allegations about real instances of the same problem. The solution, however, is not to endorse the specific allegations of the people who are crying wolf.
In any case, the existence of “human trafficking” gangs certainly does not prove the existence of long-lived SRA family cults.
Given today’s growing disparities in wealth, another criminal phenomenon that probably DOES exist — and will probably become ever more prevalent if the Tea Party gets its way — is extremely wealthy child molesters, serial killers, etc. wtih the wherewithal to bribe top officials of large police departments and thereby avoid getting caught. Venusinpieces shares some personal experiences that suggest the existence of such criminals.
However, I would NOT expect such elite creeps to be organized into large groups that include lots and lots of public figures all engaged, together, in child sexual abuse and human sacrifice rituals, over a period of many decades.
I’m extremely skeptical of the “human sacrifice” claims that have been made about large elite clubs like the Bohemian Grove. Burning an effigy does not imply actual ritual murder, any more than the Christian ritual of Holy Communion implies actual, physical cannibalism. Most likely, the “Cremation of Care” ceremony is intended simply as a dramatic reminder of the Bohemian Grove’s rule against discussing business at their annual retreat.
Also, I’m extremely skeptical of any and all SRA allegations involving Michael Aquino, who was initially accused as part of a classic 1980’s child care center witch hunt.
Venusinpieces cites some very disreputable writers, including Maury Terry. I recall reading part of Maury Terry’s book a long time ago. In one chapter, he claimed that most serial killings occurred on or near a “Satanic holiday” and then gave a long list of alleged “Satanic holidays,” such that almost every date on the calendar was on or near a “Satanic holiday.” I stopped reading at that point.
In short, Venusinpieces appears to be conflating a variety of criminal phenomena, some of which are known to exist or are at least likely to exist, and others of which are highly unlikely or at least very questionable.
I would recommend that Venusinpieces study the writings of the better debunkers, if she has not done so already, and I would urge her to take a less credulous attitude toward the “conspiracy theory” media. I wouldn’t dismiss all “conspiracy theory” claims out of hand, but, at the very least, they should be examined from both sides before accepting or endorsing them.
For some good general debunking of various “conspiracy theory” claims, see the blogs Swallowing the Camel and Leaving Alex Jonestown. Regarding the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare in particular, see my page on “Satanism” scares and their debunking and my collection of links about the SRA scare. Regarding claims about “the Illuminati,” see my page of Resources for debunking grand conspiracy ideology.