Beliefs Culture

Satanists to stage ‘black Mass’ at Harvard

General view of Radcliffe Quadrangle at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

(RNS) A Harvard-affiliated student club will host a Satanic “black Mass” on Monday (May 12) as part of an educational exercise, a stunt that the Archdiocese of Boston says “places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”

General view of Radcliffe Quadrangle at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

General view of Radcliffe Quadrangle at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

The ritual — based on the rites of the Roman Catholic Mass but altered in ways designed to be offensive or satirical — will be performed by members of the New York-based Satanic Temple. The performance will be an enactment, not a genuine black Mass, temple members said.

“While black Masses are supposed to utilize a consecrated host, ours is merely representative of a consecrated host,” Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple said in an interview. “It is not consecrated. We neither believe in nor invoke the supernatural.”

The purpose of the Mass is educational, Greaves said. Temple members plan to provide narration, explanation and historical footnotes as they perform.

The black Mass is being staged at the request of the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, a independent student organization of the Harvard Extension School, which offers continuing education classes online as well as on Harvard University’s historic campus in Cambridge, Mass. The school has attempted to distance itself from the club’s event.

“Harvard Extension School does not endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization,” it said in a statement on its website. “But we do support the rights of our students and faculty to speak and assemble freely.”

The Cultural Studies Club has held enactments of other religious and cultural events, including a Shinto tea ceremony, a Shaker exhibition and a demonstration of Buddhist meditation.

“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices,” a statement composed by the club reads. “This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.”

Reaction in Boston, especially from the local archdiocese, has been less than enthusiastic.

“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”

The archdiocese will host a “holy hour” at a Cambridge parish at the same time as the black Mass is held on the Harvard campus.

Lately, the Satanic Temple is enjoying a burst of attention. It is the same group attempting to erect a Satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol. And in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow sectarian prayers at public meetings, it offered a Satanic invocation published in the Los Angeles Times.


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • I love the temerity of these Satanists. They are really doing a good job in highlighting the hypocrisy of people who squawk about religious freedom but forget that it extends to religions besides their own.

    Even more galling was the inscription they had for their proposed monument in Oklahoma.
    “The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.”

    Its soooo evil. Oh wait, no it wasn’t. There is nothing evil about a black mass. Its just something which cheeses off Christians who lack a sense of humor.

  • What’s the best response? No doubt, a devastating mockery of this could be devised. What happens, for example, when laughter breaks out at a black mass?

    Does this silly playacting at devil worship actually harm Christians? Believers would want to take the high road, but how is that best done? What demonstrates the best of our beliefs?

  • I think laughter is the intended response. The whole point of the Satanists are to puncture the pretense and lack of religious belief. Showing it to be all kinda silly.

    The worst thing you can do is paint these people as evil incarnate or take it seriously as the coming of “The Dark One”!!!!!!!!

    At worst they are just thumbing their nose at customs and ceremony. You want to demonstrate the best of your beliefs, give them pointers as to other ceremonies they can ridicule. Show there is a sense of humor among Christians.

  • And so the juvenile types spend their time and money trying to cheese off those they don’t like. Real mature.

  • It would be hilarious if a large crowd of Christians showed up and just laughed loudly through the whole thing.

  • Funny how the media went totally bezerk at a minister burning a Koran but do a similar trashing of the Catholic Faith and it gets miniscule (pg.7 or so) coverage. The Boston Globe story about the Black Mass made it look like only the archdiocese was upset. Maybe the Globe elites ought to talk to a few average practicing Catholics and not just their brother elites at Harvard.

  • Forget it. Christians only seem to have a sense of humor when they are being malicious.

  • When it comes to Christians, it an open volley. But try this sort of disrespect or satirizing on Jews or Muslims symbols, or you’ll really hear about it. Check out their sense of humor!

  • And its exactly that kind of high and mighty attitude which needs a bit of deflation courtesy of the Great Horned One. Nothing about religion is mature. At least the Satanists are being honest about it.

  • Its the price you pay for being the majority culture and religion. After all its not like the Satanists have lobbies and politicians in their pocket to move sectarian agendas through government like Christians do. So they make do with a little performance art.

  • Where is that great religious tolerance we hear so much about from Christians?
    Oh wait, there isn’t any. Never mind. Silly question.

  • Like prayer groups, singing in a circle and trying to proselytize your dorm mate or whatever the Campus Crusades of Christ do. :).

  • That should make their God, Satan, enemy of the only true God, very happy. However, Satan knows he has a very short time to continue misleading mankind before he is bound in an abyss with his demons during the millennial rule of Jesus, King of God’s kingdom (Revelation 21:1-3). He will be released after that time for a final test of man’s obedience, and then he and his demons, as well as those who follow him, will be eternally destroyed (Revelation 20:7-10) I am looking forward to that taking place with utmost happiness and joy! 😀

  • Campus Crusade members, as much as you might disagree, actually believe in something. The overeducated Harvard morons waste time believing in nothing.

  • The same way Christians make fools of THEMSELVES and make a mockery out of our government by hiding behind it?

  • People who don’t believe in religion, or ridicule religious beliefs believe in something. Its just not the same thing as you or others might.

    Its certainly less obnoxious than actively proselytizing anything that moves. At least the Black Mass is an interesting expression of dramatics.

  • Like the posts, Larry. Good to see someone who gets it. : ) Wish there were more people like you in the U.S. of A.

  • Dramatics – that’s one word for it. My understanding that the members have no belief system except ridicule the beliefs of others. Just bored nones who recognize Catholics as an easy target to mock. If they wanted to make a lasting point, they would use their energy and so-called brains to do make a positive contribution.

  • Opening up people’s eyes to the stench of religion seems a rather pressing concern – if you read the news.

  • This isn’t tennis Leo. So your generalised backhander to “Jews and Muslims” is unwarranted. Instead of bemoaning the alleged greater disrespect endured by Christians, why not come to a general consensus that unwarranted mockery of any religion is distasteful?

  • Many Jews enjoy Jewish humor — about stereotypes on the Jewish mother, for example. South Park makes fun of Jews and every other group. SNL, too.

  • This is so heartbreaking. If only every human being knew the truth, they would stop blaming “religion” for the mistakes men have made using their own free will and choosing to falsely claim they are following God. God loves us all, and we were created to be with him and love him. One can only know true peace in their heart and soul when it is filled with God. The void so many people feel in their lives can only be filled by God, nothing else will ever be able to fill that void. I pray for all people to know God’s truth, peace, and unconditional love. How very sad that people see “religion” as something bad, when “religion” which when followed in truth is faith in the only source of pure hope and unconditional love- GOD. What a shame that people would disprespect God in such a way, a black mass is akin to much worse than spitting in the face of one’s very own kind and loving mother or father.