Welcome back to the rabbit hole dear reader, I've been dutifully continuing my research. The only company with me is my cat Mister Matches. He climbs up my leg up to my shoulders using his claws for egress. It hurts like a son of a bitch, but I endure it. He's got the cutest face.
What's that? Oh right, we're still doing that Geraldo thing. For those of you who thought you stumbled onto a warm fuzzy blog post about a kitty who enjoys tearing swatches of my flesh, I am sorry to disappoint you. This is article is about this, the Geraldo Rivera special from 1988. When we last left off, Geraldo finally allowed for a counter- argument and hears from Zeena Schreck, and Michael Anquino, They tried to explain that he has been incorrectly colluding their religion with the emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals he has been reporting about. This all went in one ear and out the other, as Geraldo proves by rolling another segment.
Note: In the last edition I said there was going to be more Michael Aquino, but I didn't account for the amount of bullshit I'd have to sort through in the segment below. That's going to have to be pushed back to the next part of this series. I know, I know, daddy let you down. We'll do it, next time princess, I promise.
Segment Two: Electric Boogaloo
Geraldo says that Satanism is the belief that the Devil can inhabit your body, completely ignoring everything that was just said. Then he reminds people of the movie the Exorcist before going into a segment about exorcism. In all fairness, as Aquino pointed out, Geraldo was dealing with an audience with the mentality of a 13-year-old.
How Geraldo Tells It
Geraldo visits the Haitian district of Brooklyn, New York, where he witnesses a Vodou priest perform a ceremony. Geraldo says that he is trying to cure a woman of stomach pain that is believed to be caused by the devil. I'm as shocked as the rest of you to hear that tummy aches are the work of the devil.We then cut to the priest himself shouting at the woman about how the Devil has been following her and he will make sure will never follow her again. It's sad that a police restraining order doesn't mean much these days. Geraldo then sits and watches as everyone chants, dances, drinks and spits wine. Then, they rub a live chicken in the woman's face, "putting" the Devil in the chicken then slaughter that chicken, supposedly curing the woman. If there is anyone reading this that represents Popeye's Chicken, I want you guys to turn this ritual into a chicken sandwich I can enjoy.
What Geraldo completely misses:
Haitian Vodou gets its origins from Nigeria and was heavily bastardized thanks to French colonialism, slavery, and forcing said slaves into the Christian faith. It's a mish-mash of African tradition with some Christian window dressing. It is also a religion that heavily relies on the ideas of sorcery and rituals. Also, they worship the Loa, intermediaries to Bondya, the god of their faith.It's interesting to note that by this point of the special, Geraldo has been railing against animal sacrifice, ritual ceremonies, and sorcery when it comes to Satanism. Yet, here he is, sitting in a room witnessing people carrying out a ceremony where a chicken is slaughtered in the name of a god and he has zero problems with it because of the Christian symbolism that was incorporated into this belief system. I find it incredibly hard to believe that he can't be aware of the hypocrisy he's displaying here. He's willing to accept that Vodu isn't a cult and can be used as a force for good, but not Satanism?
How Geraldo Tells It:
Geraldo then goes to Los Angeles, California to witness exorcisms being carried out by a preacher named Roy Masters. This is what Geraldo says about Masters:
“With a background in show business rather than theology, Masters claims that the members of his congregation react profoundly to the laying of the cross that they feel and fear themselves possessed by the devil.”
— Geraldo, presumably between swallows of bullshit
If the "background in show business" and the fact that he is exorcizing people using two sticks that are nailed together raised some warning flags with you reading along at home, then this won't surprise you...
Here's the Thing About Roy Masters:
Where to even start with this piece of work. Roy Masters immigrated to America from the United Kingdom. He had a lucrative career as a diamond cutter. He gave this up to become a hypnotist. He was sent to jail in Houston for 30 days for practicing medicine without a license. He later moved to California where he started the Foundation of Human Understanding, a not-for-profit organization. He also started a conservative radio show called Advice Line, that eventually became nationally syndicated. The guy eventually moved Josephine, Oregon.
Taking a page from the Baghwan Rajneesh Masters started to form a commune to hide out from the eventual collapse of the world. He also tried to gain political influence but when this threatened his attempt to gain tax-exempt status as a religious organization, his love of money sidelined his political ambitions. There were many more scandals, one of which involved such as allegedly assaulting his former daughter-in-law and children.
Roy Masters was a carnival hypnotist who then started a Christian Cult in Oregon and in Geraldo's okay with this? I guess his view is that as long as they're waving around a crucifix and bilking people out of money to be among the chosen people who manage to outlast the apocalypse, it's okay.
How Geraldo Tells It:
Geraldo takes a stab at explaining what devil worship is. Using stock footage of a service put on by the Church of Satan he goes on to talk about how Satanism is all about evil and was "forced underground" in the middle ages. How it found "new life" in the 20th century thanks to Alistair Crowley. He then comments on how the most recent incarnation, the Church of Satan, founded by Aton LeVay, is a church that continues to preach violence and hate. He goes on to say that the church and its offshoots are Constitutionally protected.This cuts to an interview clip of Anton LeVay himself where he says that he feels that hate is necessary for a controlled way just as love is necessary.Geraldo then mentions LeVay's "bestselling Satanic book" the Satanic Bible and calls it the "handbook of devil worshipers everywhere." He goes on to say how LeVay used to hang out with celebrities and made Sammy Davis, Jr. an honorary member. He also states that the late Jayne Mansfield was one of LeVay's most passionate followers. This cuts back to a clip of LeVay talking about members of his church come from all walks of life.Geraldo continues on by telling the listening audience that contemporary Satanism relies on "bizarre and bloody ceremonies"
What Geraldo Gets Wrong:
Where to even start with this load of horseshit. First of all, what he refers to as "Satanism" in the "Middle Ages" wasn't an organized religion. People accused of worshiping Satan were not self-identified but were subject to witch-hunts, persecuted by the church, and executed in horrific ways. They called that the Inquisition, and it attacked everything that the Catholic Church considered heresy. If it says anything, it says about the horrific church sponsored genocide for anyone who didn't follow the Pope's playbook.
He then made the statement that Alistair Crowley was the father of contemporary Satanism. It was actually Stanisław Przybyszewski who was the first notable person who self-identified as a Satanist, he was a supporter of Social Darwinism. He liked the philosophy of Neizche and dabbled in nothing scarier than novels, poetry, and plays. The only thing menacing about him was getting a paper cut from one of his books.There were six different people or organizations, including the spoooooooky Freemasons that all contributed to the symbology, rituals, and theology that were adopted by modern Satanists before Alistair Crawley even stepped on the scene.
Even then, Crowley didn't consider himself a Satanist. He only adopted the imagery and called himself the "BEAST" because it pissed off his critics. You can give him credit for being a shit disturber, but the forefather of modern Satanism? Not so much.
That quote from Anton LeVay about hate being necessary? It was taken out of context. It was taken from a 1967 interview on the Joe Pyne show. You can find the full context of the quote to your right. The interview was very light-hearted, and LeVay made a lot of tongue in cheek responses to the questions.
As for the Satanic Bible being a "Best Seller", by what standard? It's certainly never made the Publisher's Weekly Bestsellers List. As far as a "handbook" to "Devil worshipers everywhere", again, he's attempting to collude the Church of Satan with the Christian definition of a Satanist. Had Geraldo actually read the Satanic Bible, he'd find nothing of the sort.
His assumption that it is a religion of "hate and violence' is a great misunderstanding. The philosophy of the Church of Satan, again, is boiled down to do whatever gives you gratification so long as it doesn't harm anyone else. As for "violence", Satanism promotes the Biblical eye-for-an-eye, or "cause and effect" if you will. If someone attacks you, you defend yourself in kind.
What Did Geraldo get Right?
Also, he's right that the Church of Satan is protected by the Constitution. Like this is a bad thing? All that means is that they are legally allowed to form a church and worship the religion of their choice. This doesn't exempt them from any laws of the United States. It only protects them from being discriminated because of their faith. If you want to start cherry picking who gets the inalienable rights that come from being a citizen of the United States, you may as well rip up the whole Constitution. If you are willing to vigorously defend your own Constitutional rights to the religion of your choice, so does everyone else, even the people who follow a faith you don't believe in. I know this, and I don't even live in the United States.
When We Come Back...
Man, it is getting harder to figure out what I'll be able to fit into the next segment. It's also getting harder and harder to TL;DR this thing. It's turning into a monster of an article. I thought it was going to be three parts and exploded to twice that much. I'm only a half-hour into this special! The messed up part of all this is the fact that this isn't the craziest stuff in the special! This is the TAME stuff.Anyway, unless I overshoot my word count, next time we're going to look at some cattle mutilation and more Michael Aquino. Be there!