In the 1996 Census, 2091 people in Australia identified themselves as Satanists. In 2001, the number was down to about 1800, but rose again in the 2006 Census to 2248 people. Satanists are found in every part of Australia. Melbourne has the highest number with about 450, Sydney has 350 and Brisbane about 200. The number in each of the cities, Adelaide and Perth, is just under 200. Seventy-five per cent of all those identifying themselves as Satanists are male. Many of them are young people under the age of 25.

The Satanism website in Sydney represents Satanism as the teachings of Anton LaVey, and as a turning upside down of religious morality. It revolves around the ‘self’ rather than others. It is about indulgence rather than abstinence. It suggests people should be kind only to those who deserve it rather than wasting love on people who are not grateful for it. It suggests that vengeance is more appropriate than turning the other cheek.

Satanism attracts small numbers but is widespread through the Western world and also has a presence in some parts of the Islamic world. It has been publicized as a subculture of heavy metal music. A few rock singers have identified themselves as Satanists and have used anti-Christian themes and ideas to sell their music (LeVine, p.569).

Many people who have identified themselves as Satanists have found expression for their antiestablishment feelings in heavy metal music and ‘gothic’ forms of appearance. However, the vast majority of ‘goths’ and heavy metal fans are not Satanists. Rock music, in general, is sometimes identified by conservative Muslims as ‘Satanic’ (LeVine, p.567). However, LeVine has argued that rock music has been embraced by some young Muslims as an expression for the ‘desperate [desire] for liberation from authoritarian politics and social norms’ (p.570). He suggests that, just as rock and pop music did in the West a few decades ago.

Satanism is currently making headlines in Iran and some other Islamic countries. It was reported in May 2009 that more than 100 ‘Satan-worshippers’ were arrested at a concert featuring heavy metal music. There have been other reports on crack-downs on Satanism in other Islamic countries including Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia (LeVine, p.565, 571).

Satanism remains a very small, minor expression of a few individuals, mostly youth estranged from society, and mostly without any institutional involvements, against the ‘establishment’. At the same time, it is an extreme expression of many tendencies within Western culture: individualism, hedonism, utilitarianism and the affirmation of this world.

For more information see: Pointers, Volume 20, No. 1, Pages 13-14

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