The History of the Satanic Panic: Part II

Disclaimer: This series may contain elements that might be triggers. Additionally, we would like to stress that the premier Satanic organization, The Satanic Temple, is a non-theistic organization that states that part of its mission is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.

Not too long after Anton LaVey published The Satanic Bible in 1969 he published The Satanic Rituals which further fueled American fears that Satanic worshippers were out there and were taking part in dark ceremonies. Fears of Satanic cults was already growing. Rosemary’s Baby was released just one year before The Satanic Bible. Then, just a few years before that in 1966 the Time magazine cover titled “Is God Dead?” shocked a largely religiously affiliated American public.


The Tate Murders committed by the Manson family only increased fears that the occult was operating in America, violently murdering men, women and children, including the unborn in this tragic case.


Source: New York Times

Then, in 1971 William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel further drove fear into American audiences, but nothing like what would happen in 1973 when The Exorcist was released in theaters. Some theaters showed the movie on a 24-hour marathon. People walked out of the theater in a panic. Others claimed to have become possessed after seeing Linda Blair’s spinning head on screen. The Catholic Church claimed that they saw a rise in attendance shortly after the release of the film. There’s no way whether that can be validated, but what can be validated is that this was a very different time in America, over 40 years ago American’s were still overwhelmingly religiously affiliated. Even the Ouija Board, which was once considered a sleepover game morphed into a sinister portal to demonic possession overnight because of this film and growing fears of possession.


The Omen was released in 1976, further drumming up fears of a global conspiracy of people who worked in the shadows for Satan, working to tilt the status of power into the hands of the wicked. People pointed to several strange deaths occurring onset during filming and involving some working on the film as a connection to occult and supernatural invovement.


There was a growing list of occult experts and individuals making the rounds on the talk show circuits around this time claiming to have been former Satanists. This included Mike Warnke, an American Christian evangelist who published The Satan Seller, where he claims to have once been a Satanist but later converted to Christianity.

Americans were in a panic and they thought the devil was coming to get them. Around the late 1960s the Zodiac killer began operating, gunning down men and women throughout California. He sent taunting letters to the media which included cryptograms. Only one cryptogram has been solved and the killer has never been identified. It’s thought he killed 37 people.

Photo: Zodiac Killer cipher,

Then came the Alphabet murders, where girls were murdered in New York and California. The first letter in the first and last name matched the first letter of the name of the town where they were killed. Again, the killer was never caught.

More ritualistic-type murders emerged throughout the 1970s committed by Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam), and more.

Photo: David Berkowitz, New York Post

Americans no longer knew who to trust and then the child day care sex abuse hysteria scandals broke in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Fears of Satanists operating in communites went from whispers and Christian programming to mainstream media with seasoned reporters asking if the devil was working in America.

Source: Anton LaVey, OregonLive.Com