Issue 45 / January - March 2004
Satanism and Youth's Quest For Identity
Briefly defined as the worship of Satan as if he were God, Satanism is the name given to a reaction that basically started in the 1880s in such countries as France, England, Germany, and especially in the USA, against Christianity and religious understanding and the domination Christian scholars exercised from the Middle Ages on. The movement began to be systematized in the 1950's by the American-born Anton Szandor LaVey. Today, Satanism represents a rebellion against all religions â mainly Christianity â and the sacred values that they put forward. Thus Satanism, taking on the nature of Satan's most important characteristic, i.e. opposition and rebellion, is opposed to religion and everything religious, and is for Satan and everything that he represents.
Derived mainly from the witchcraft practices of Europe in the Middle Ages, Satanism has also been seen to be on the rise in Muslim countries. It has become a problem that now appears frequently on the agenda in Muslim countries, as it has begun to attract the young people as a rebellious alternative to the philosophy and lifestyle of their parents. Brought to the attention of the Turkish nation when two students at the Alman Lisesi (German High School), Asl and Alp, committed suicide in Atakoy, Istanbul, June 22, 1998, Satanism tends to find a place among high school students. Moreover, it has been reported that Satanism has spread among students at private schools and has even become popular with primary school students.
Research reveals that young people involved in Satanism share common characteristics. For example, they are mostly children of well-to-do families or families with an above average income. They receive a better education than their peers, and have little responsibility. They are generally brought up in an upper-middle class environment. How can such a movement find opportunity to spread in a country like Turkey, where the majority of the population are Muslim? What do these young people lack that impels them to adopt a movement like Satanism? How can a movement that originated among the children of Western proletarian families become popular among children of wealthy Muslim families? Who spreads Satanism among our young people and how? Most important of all, why do the young commit suicide for the sake of Satan? People are already asking, What are the reasons that lie behind these incidents? This article will look into the answers to these questions as impartially as possible.
1. How Does Satanism Spread?
Of the factors that help in the spread of Satanism in countries like Turkey, computers and the Internet are at the fore. It is striking that young people who are interested in Satanism are mostly high school students. As most of these young people have learnt a foreign language, they can easily gain access to Satanism via the computer and the Internet. Those who want to learn about Satanism first turn to these resources. It is also known that there are people, with evil intentions, who intentionally encourage young people to become Satanists. The information given in documents and books on Satanism (verified by what happens in practice) indicates that there are some people who are trying to tempt young people into being Satanists, intentionally and systematically. I do not think that either non-Satanists, or those who claim to be Satanists in Muslim dominated countries, really know what Satanism is, which is quite natural. However, venturing blindly into an unknown subject may lead to unexpected results. The young people who were drawn to suicide, who were raped, or murdered are the bitterest indications of this. Insufficient information and ignorance are among the leading reasons for the spread of Satanism among young people. What one must ask here is why the young people in these countries want to become Satanists.
2. Why Do Young People Become Satanists?
Of the answers received to this question, asked to young people who claim to be Satanists, the following ones are especially striking: I became a Satanist because I was angry with God who took away my parents when I was little. I became a Satanist to be a Satanist. I joined the Satanists because I was looking for peace. I sold my soul to Satan because I understood that it was meaningless to live in this world and that I did not belong here. or I wanted more freedom. As can be seen, some young people are angry with God, because of some loss or hardship that they experienced as small children. Some do not even know why they became Satanists. Some look for peace, purpose or freedom in such a cult that they cannot find in their families. Satanism seems attractive to these young people as it encourages them to be rebellious and reactionary against the principles and institutions around them.
The answers given above demonstrate that behind the problem of Satanism lies a lack of spiritual knowledge and education. If young people are taught correctly about God, Who created man as an honorable creature and placed him above all living things, they would learn not to be angry with God and would not side with Satan. Similarly, if they are taught that man was not created in vain, that life and creation serve a purpose, that even man himself does not have the right to take his own life, that such an action incurs terrible consequences, and that there is another world in the Hereafter, they would not desire to end their lives and they would not conceive of life in this world as being meaningless.
Another important point to be made is that no precautions are being taken to combat Satanism, despite the fact that young people are being drawn into this spiritual abyss. They are clearly embroiled in a quest for happiness. They are searching for satisfaction everywhere: in the family, at school, in the community, and in society. Here the question of what kinds of young people join Satanist cults springs to mind.
3. Which Groups Tend More toward Satanism?
Research shows that there are certain groups of young people who are more likely to be drawn into Satanism. Some of these are as follows: children from broken homes or disfunctional families, or children who are neglected or not given the necessary care by their parents. Children who have trouble estab- lishing relationships with their peers and are therefore cast out by their friends and environment, leaving them lonely and vulnerable are also at risk. Children who are not supported or cared for by society and those who have difficulty in the full realization of their identities or personalities, and who are therefore pushed into depression, are vulnerable. Young people with spiritual or psychological problems, those who have failed to overcome the problems of adolescence and therefore suffer from depression, are often targeted by such groups, while those who are trying to find themselves by joining different groups and by being different from others, and those with a rebellious spirit, who â rightly or wrongly - react against their family, their environment, and their teachers, are easily persuaded to join such groups. Sometimes those born with some disability or who are challenged in some way can rebel against God. On the other hand, those who are financially satisfied, healthy and sound, but who are spiritually hungry, and therefore questing fulfillment, can often be misled. Sometimes, young people can go astray merely due to their adventurous spirits, or their curiosity, or simply because they have not been given a sound religious education.
Moreover, some young people unintentionally fall into Satanism without being aware of its nature, becoming ensnared by their boyfriends or girlfriends.
Research also reveals that a great majority of the young people who tend toward Satanism and commit suicide for its sake are either high school students or of such an age. This leads to the question, Why do students at high-school age tend more toward Satanism? This can be answered as follows: the ages of the young people who tend toward Satanism range from 14 to 20. In Turkey, this range extends to 25. However, as the ages of 14 to 20 correspond to the high school years, the tendency to move toward Satanism is more likely to be seen in this age group, the years of adolescence. During this period, some physical and psychological changes occur in young people, a phenomenon that can lead to several spiritual and psychological problems. Since this age group is emotionally sensitive, these young people are more susceptible to influence and direction. They react emotionally when they make friends or join groups, and they cannot always make logical decisions on whether the friends or the groups that they are joining are sound or not. At the same time, the ages of 14 to 20 are the years when young people form their identities. Consequently, one of the main reasons why young people at high school age tend toward Satanism is the fact that they have not yet fully developed their personality, and some are suffering from some sort of identity crisis. This is also a period when individuality and freedom gain priority, and young people become more reactionary, looking for an alternative life style, something that may be shocking to the older generation. Young people at this stage in their life are easily influenced by events.