A new film, Hail Satan?, portrays the Satanic Temple as a voice of reason and humanism in the US. Has the time come to rehabilitate the dark lord?
Over the past century of popular culture, Satan has acquired the souls of delta blues musicians, incited youth rebellions, possessed small children and goats, impregnated unsuspecting women and transmitted evil through backwards lyrics on heavy metal records. But recently, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, the nature of his game has been puzzling us.
The forces aligned against Satan have become so objectionable that he no longer looks like the bad guy. They include such groups as the Westboro Baptist church, notorious for its hate speech against LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims and other groups, all of which it condemns as “satanic frauds”. There’s the Trump administration, in league with the US religious right, which has been aggressively pushing anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ legislation, not to mention engaging in overt Islamophobia. Those forces would also include the 20,000 people who recently signed an online petition condemning the Amazon TV adaptation of the cult novel Good Omens – about a demon and an angel – as “another step to make satanism appear normal”.