Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.
Satan is a figure appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions who brings evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver who leads humanity astray.
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Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist.
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Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity.
Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.
Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history.
During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals.
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholic military order founded in 1119 and recognised in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum.
Catharism was a Christian dualist or Gnostic revival movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017.
In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies.
The early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages of the post-classical era.
Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799, and was partially carried forward by Napoleon during the later expansion of the French Empire.
Protestantism is a form of Christian faith and practice which originated with the Protestant Reformation, a movement against what its followers considered to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians.
The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals.
Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients.
Baphomet is a deity that the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping and that subsequently was incorporated into disparate occult and mystical traditions.
Lucifer is a Latin name for the planet Venus in its morning appearances, and is often used for mythological and religious figures associated with the planet.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites.
A murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought.
Satanic ritual abuse was the subject of a moral panic that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout many parts of the world by the late 1990s.
In a religious context, sin is the act of violating God's will by transgressing his commandments.
In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.
Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography.
Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism.
Theistic Satanism or spiritual Satanism is an umbrella term for religious beliefs that consider Satan as an objectively existing supernatural being or force worthy of supplication, with whom individuals may contact, convene and even praise, rather than him being just an archetype, symbol or idea as in LaVeyan Satanism.
Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch.
The supernatural is defined as being incapable to be explained by science or the laws of nature, characteristic or relating to ghosts, gods or other supernatural beings or to appear beyond nature.
Originally, a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family.
In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.
Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.
The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.
Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.
Central and Eastern Europe, abbreviated CEE, is a generic term for the group of countries in Central Europe, Southeast Europe, Northern Europe, and Eastern Europe, usually meaning former communist states in Europe.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, abbreviated as the USSR, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe, situated between the Baltic Sea in the north and two mountain ranges in the south.