God is good, and for some Satan is too.
Satanists don't deserve the bad rap they're getting after the recent news linking accused killers to the Prince of Darkness. The words "satanic ritual murder" or "occult killing" set off alarms in God-fearing people, and that's probably why prosecutors and the media run with it.
This hit home when two Harris County teens were charged with capital murder last week in what the Chronicle referred to as an "occult killing". Other news outlets headlined it "deal with the devil" or "ritual murder".
John Jordan of the Harris County DA's office is working the case and says that Jose E. Reyes, 17, allegedly talked a 16-year-old into joining him in killing schoolmate Corriann Cervantes. The younger kid wanted to join Reyes in a deal with the devil. Cervantes,15, was mutilated, strangled and raped. Authorities said there was an upside-down cross carved on her belly.
Last night Reyes told a TV news reporter that he's actually a Christian and doesn't follow Satan, but he was really into the devil a few years ago.
Followers of Satan are used to having their belief's scapegoated in the name of murder. "You now have people who are practicing the illusion of the occult," says Michael Bradley, a Satanist and a regular in Houston's goth scene. When you hear about people, especially teens, killing in the name of the devil there's probably mental illness involved, and an imagination twisted on images from metal music groups and hit movies that teens consume in hopes of scaring the shit out of their parents.
Blaming a supernatural force for causing someone to commit murder is disturbing and sad, and at this point, very unoriginal. Claiming "I did it for the devil," is no different than people saying they were commanded by angles, God, or other voices to commit murder," says Bradley. "It's unfortunate that it's sensationalized," he said. "The supernatural, the occult, help to relieve people of their responsibility."
"If you were going to cut somebody," says Satan worshiper Jef Rouner (and a frequent contributor to the Press), "you'd get the same amount of energy from jerking off." Laid out in the Satanic Bible are rituals for wealth, revenge and other things that are mostly symbolic, he says. You're not supposed to go around killing people though.
From jail, Miranda Barbour told a small town Pennsylvania newspaper she joined a satanic murder cult in Alaska when she was a teen, according to the Associated Press. She claims to have participated in almost two dozen murders, including one in Texas.
CNN followed up this Satan worship claim with a call to some ranking followers.
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"Top Satanists say they have no ties to Barbour or her husband, Elytte Barbour, who is also charged in the 2013 killing of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara. Police say LaFerrara responded to a 'companionship' ad placed by Miranda Barbour on Craigslist."
Rouner also doesn't buy any of it, and he's been a self-proclaimed Satanist since the late 1980s. "When you bring me the Satanic version of Warren Jeffs, when there is a compound where you can prove to me that child rape and murder were done by devout Satanists who thought that they were doing the right thing, when you show me a single conviction where sober faith and not raving lunacy invoked Satan in a heinous ritual crime, then I will believe it."
Satanism after all is about worshiping yourself and Satanist nationwide have been fighting the evil, ritual-killings stereotype as their Church of Satan and related practices inch into the mainstream. Conspiracies abound.
For now, no matter who they owe their souls to the Barbour's face the death penalty, and here Reyes could face life in prison.