Opinion Politics Tobin Grant: Corner of Church and State

2016: The Year of Lucifer

Satan in Inferno, as imagined by Gustave Dore's illustration. Image via Wikimedia Commons (http://bit.ly/1iWIvbM)

My nominee for 2016 person/deity of the year is Satan (aka Lucifer, Beelzebub, and the Devil).

Sure, there were other more important religion and politics stories this year. But never before has Satan been as visible–or as successful–in politics.

Satan first made news by seeking the Republican nomination for president by taking on the form of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

This incarnation was first reported by former House Speaker John Boehner in March. He reiterated it to an audience at Stanford University. When asked his views of Cruz, Boehner answered that Cruz was, “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Cruz, of course, failed to win the Republican nomination. But at the Republican convention, Ben Carson revealed another way Satan could enter the White House via Hillary Clinton. According to Carson, Hillary wrote about Saul Alinsky in her college senior thesis. Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals, a book that Carson said included Lucifer on its dedication page.

Carson asked the convention to ponder the implication of this:

Now, think about that. This is a nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator, a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are One Nation under God. This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says, In God We Trust. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.

Yes, think about it. It’s a clever route to the White House, particularly since Clinton wrote about Alinsky two years before Rules for Radicals was published. Also, the book doesn’t include Lucifer on a dedication page but as a literary allusion on an epigraph. So, it’s not a straight line from Hell to Pennsylvania Avenue, but it’s a line nonetheless. That’s how tricky Lucifer is.

Which made it all the more frustrating when Donald Trump won the presidential election.

But Satan had one more tactic. It’s one of the devil’s most effective: the offer of power. And the person to take the offer was former Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon. Following the election, Trump named Bannon to be chief strategist and Senior Counselor in the new administration. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Bannon cited Satan as the archetype of power he sought.

“Darkness is good,” Bannon said. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”

Not all were pleased with Bannon’s dark reference.

Church of Satan’s Peter Gilmore said in a statement stated that Bannon is right: Satan and darkness are positive power.

“Yet Satan also embraces iconoclasm and libertine indulgence not usually in the alt-right platform. We suspect as Lord Vader’s next apprentice Bannon will have much to learn,” Gilmore said.

That’s 2016. It is the year Satanists praise a White House strategist for embracing the dark side but distance themselves because he’s a nazi.

Note: The one unanswered question in 2016 is what role of Satan played in the Cubs World Series victory. Despite the elimination of the “curse of the goat,” there is no direct evidence of any diabolical involvement. Fans in of the St. Louis Cardinals (including the author) remain skeptical.

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Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

47 Comments

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  • You’ve used one of satan’s best tactics – sounding silly about him and trying to reduce him to satire, rather than the reality that he is the father of lies and he is a murderer.

  • How can you miss the most awesome Lucifer this year! The Fox TV show featuring Tom Ellis as the giddy Satanic Majesty. A new twist on the LA cop with a weird partner. She’s a cop and single mother with issues! He is the dark lord of hell on vacation. Together they fight crime. Best TV Satan since Ray Wise on Reaper.

    Also honorable mentioned: The Church of Satan and their efforts to expose christian privilege, hypocrisy and blatant violations of 1St Amendment religious freedoms.

  • Satan is a nothing in the murderer department. People killed in his name number maybe 20 worldwide in history. People murdered in God’s name are in the tens of millions.

  • quote from da spud five days ago…..”The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation” Please tell us Spud, more about “christian privilege, hypocrisy, and blatant violations…” lol

  • Not as many as God or his loyal besties. That number is astronomically high. “For good people to do evil things, that takes religion”

    If I didn’t know you better, I would think you are setting up the zingers for me. 🙂

  • LMAO! Maybe you will understand what I said some day. Until then, I just continue being amused that you equate bad behavior being called out with persecution and discrimination.

    How long have you hated the 1st Amendment?

  • Quote from da Spud:”The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation”

  • LMAO! Not even close. So the question remains, have you seen the show Lucifer? Or does your faith forbid you to watch fantasy cop shows with figures from your mythological canon.

  • You fail to realize that those who murder, and do all manner of profanity and evil in the name of God, were not doing God’s Will, but have indeed succumbed to evil/sin. You many continue to use those who have dedicated their lives to God whether through actual vows, or those who try to live a Gospel led life, as proof that God is the cause of misery, but that is just another lie, deception. Everything that goes against the will of God, and everything that He has taught and given us, is the definition of evil. There is a great difference between those who believe in God, love God, and sin, and those who reject God and embrace evil. So continue with your illogical summation of God and His people, but God NEVER said any of us would be without sin. The difference is that we hope in God, have the humility to confess our sins, and try again. The best satan and all that is evil can promise is that murder, profanity, hatred are his “saintly virtues” and is devoid of any good.

  • LMAO! Anything to avoid owning up to the horrible acts done in the name of their faith. The sectarian conflict, genocide, discrimination, destroying of cultures, the list goes on.

    Blaming someone else for your failings and making excuses seems to be a common failing to religious belief.

    Come back to me when you are in a far more reflective and honest mood.

  • Discountenancing the existence of Satan only works to his advantage. It’s the old saw from the “Wizard of Oz, ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!’ ” Sadly, it will be to the regret of many when they discover to their eternal loss that the original rebel against the Majesty of God played them for a fool.

  • Of course you don’t. That would imply that you treat people as you wish to be treated. Can’t let that happen.

  • Spuddle-pants, have you seen the latest numbers of innocent deaths from the rein of Fidel Castro? The number about 700 I believe, and that’s after only a 50-odd year run! If Castro’s death squads didn’t represent the work of the devil, then who do they represent? Certainly not Jesus Christ!

  • Sabelonada, you saying Castro was a Satanist?!?! That is about the most fact-free nonsense you can think of on this topic. Because my point was people killed in the name of God compared to those killed in the name of Satan.

    Now trying to cast aspersions towards atheists by equating them with Communism is a well worn and thoroughly false argument. One that gets trotted out by those wishing to gloss over and ignore bad deeds done for religious reasons, as you do.
    http://infidels.org/kiosk/article/communism-is-religion-238.html

    “Like all religions, Communism is irrational, dogmatic and based on faith rather than science. Just like Christianity and Islam, Communism had its Holy Books which were treated as Holy Scripture, namely the writings of Lenin, Mao, Marx and others–all of which were far from scientific. ”

    “As with Christianity and Islam, Communism attracted followers by
    promising a pie-in-the-sky heaven to the faithful. The difference being that the Communist heaven would be sometime in the future when all people would be happy and equal under Communism rather than after death.”

    Just to put this argument to bed early without dessert, the ultimate example of how Communism is expressed as a religion is North Korea. The last country to take Communist ideology seriously. Rather than being atheistic, their culture is ultra-spiritual. A theocracy founded by a Godlike figure with divine descendants as its leader.

  • You don’t have to be officially a Satinist to do the work of Satan! The work of the athiests certainly is not bringing about God’s kingdom of light! Wise up.

  • It appears that the most effective way to do the work of Satan is to say you are acting in God’s name. To quote scripture to support your position. To claim God’s word agrees with my own. That God coincidentally hates the same people I do.

    Its amazing what kind of evil people commit because they feel they are acting on the word of God. Its a great enabler for sociopathic behavior. Of course when it all goes belly up, you can always just blame it on Satan* and avoid any kind of responsibility.

    *This is strictly the Christian notion of Satan. Both Jewish and Islamic versions of such a figure are closer to a servant of God whose job it is to test one’s merits. A sort of designated adversary in a court. Not someone who is responsible for evil in the world.

    Interestingly enough it is that version of Satan which has been popularized on television. On Fox’s Lucifer, Satan just doled out punishment as an agent of God but is not a source of evil. On CW’s defunct series Reaper, Satan is the ultimate enabler for people’s own foibles. Someone who tempts but does not act directly. One damns themselves.

  • You said you found it interesting as to why the “Jewish version of Lucifer has been popularized on TV,” instead of the Christian version. The answer is actually quite obvious when you consider the following facts.

    “Four of the largest five entertainment giants are now run or owned by Jews. [Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (at number four) is the only gentile holdout – however, Rupert is as pro-Israel as any Jew, probably more so.” — (Los Angeles Jewish Times Oct. 29. 1999) [other sources claim Murdoch’s mother, Elisabeth J. Greene, is Jewish]

    Who runs Hollywood? C’mon – latimes by JOEL STEIN.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/19/opinion/oe-stein19
    How deeply Jewish is Hollywood? When the studio chiefs took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago to demand that the Screen Actors Guild settle its contract, the open letter was signed by: News Corp. President Peter Chernin (Jewish), Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey (Jewish), Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger (Jewish), Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton (surprise, Dutch Jew), Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer (Jewish), CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves (so Jewish his great uncle was the first prime minister of Israel), MGM Chairman Harry Sloan (Jewish) and NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker (mega-Jewish). If either of the Weinstein brothers had signed, this group would have not only the power to shut down all film production but to form a minyan with enough Fiji water on hand to fill a mikvah.

  • That was a ridiculous and unnecessary segue into a rant on “Jewish controlled media”.

    A saner take would probably mention how such a take on Lucifer fits in with serial narratives and allows the character to be a protagonist or opens up dramatic possibilities that a sole source of evil would not. Possibly pointing to a desire to avoid tropes common to a subgenre of horror movies popular in the 70’s.

    But that is just me. 🙂

  • Satan loves attention. Demons hate it when you put away the Ouija board. That’s why I will not even mention the name of President-elect T***p.

  • You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. ~ Anne Lamott

  • I just read the Wikipedia link about Islam + the devil. ONE part of it mentions the possibility that Satan tests our love of God and then there are 3 others listed including that people believe that Satan is evil. You kind of left that part out. Islam does think of Satan as Evil.

  • Not at all. My point was that views of the devil are far from uniform as Christianity presents it. Actually what you are saying is that Islam is divided on the subject.

    Frankly the whole idea of blaming evil in the world on Satan reeks of avoidance and excuses. A way to duck responsibility we have towards one another and to own up to ones own very human failings.

  • Interesting for classic cheesy sf tv fans, the name of Patrick Macnee’s space Satan on the original 1970’s Battlestar Galactica came from the Islam, Count Iblis.

  • “God NEVER said any of us would be without sin.”
    OK in this Heaven/Hell game – I’m not playing any game where I was created flawed and everyone loses. At least in Vegas there’s payouts. We all have sin so we all go to hell unless we don’t.

    You christianists twist and dance to avoid admitting your religion committed depraved and stupid behavior and perpetuates it every day with fear of death and fear or shadows at night. just stop it and go knit something already. I ain’t scared of your boogyman and it wont make me joining your stupid club. period. And yes Sandi, you aren’t threatening anyone – you’re just quoting scripture like you were told – good girl. (Pat pat) It’s still fostering fear when you could open your mind and see that’s the pure reason this myth was invented in the first place – to scare compliance into the flock. Made up. Whole cloth. FICTION. right?

  • Head in the sand. Don’t look. It’s better that way. Don’t see the world. Don’t see the creation – just the bible. good one, yur the best of the flock. I’m sure they have a merit badge for that

  • Satan deceives. ALL those who murder in GOD’s name are servants of Satan. NO one ever murdered in GOD’s name, ever, EXCEPT liars and followers of Satan, who were deceived.

  • So that means Christians throughout the ages were constantly being deceived into acting badly and that ones like you continue to be so.

    That speaks badly of Christians. So either they meant to be so murderous and hostile and are just looking for excuses or they are just too stupid to be able to assume responsibility for their actions.

    Saying “the Devil made me do it”, doesn’t do a thing for one’s credibility or moral fiber. 🙂

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