On the church after Anton LaVey

Dec
5
David Shankbone interviews Peter Gilmore on Church after Anton LaVey

David Shankbone: Does the Church of Satan have relationships with other churches?

Peter Gilmore: Not at all. We’re not ecumenical.

David Shankbone: It would seem there are pagans or humanist religions that follow your general philosophy.

Peter Gilmore: I wouldn’t say that. Most pagan religions are theistic on one level or another. They generally think their deities exist in some part. We don’t believe Satan exists as a deity. I think there are some pagans who may look at their Gods and Goddesses as archetypes only, and in that sense that would be closer to our position because you can look at the symbol of Satan as an archetype. But, we generally don’t feel we have any relation to any kind of religious organization.

David Shankbone: What is the membership numbers for the Church of Satan?

Peter Gilmore: We never give out numbers. The reason for that our founder came up with and I agree with him and keep to his policy: if people think there are too few of us, they tend to not want to take us seriously. If they think there are too many of us, they think we’re a threat. There was even a point back during the Satanic Panic in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when there was governmental legislation proposed to ban Satanism because they thought there were all these metal heads out there sacrificing babies, doing drugs and making child pornography. Of course, now we know, it was mostly people who were borderline Christian evangelists pretending, but then accusing their own family members and getting them put in jail, or acting as therapists and most of those people have been sued and properly censured since then.

David Shankbone: Has the church thrived after LaVey’s passing?

Peter Gilmore: It has. Partially because we are taking advantage of technology with the Internet and global media; our website gets hundreds of thousands of hits a day and literature keeps getting translated into many different languages the world over. My own book, The Satanic Scriptures, the hardcover came out in April and the paperback is coming out this month. I’ve already got five different languages coming out and I’m negotiating for others. We are thriving, we have many members.

David Shankbone: What is your book about?

Peter Gilmore: It’s a collection of my essays I’ve written over the past twenty years talking about Satanic philosophy, how it’s applied. I talk about music since I am by training a composer; I went to NYU. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in music composition, mostly focusing on orchestral work. One conception in the book I wanted to dispel is the stereotype that Satanism is always associated with Metal and the cookie monster voice. That's Satanism? No.

David Shankbone: It’s not all Gene Loves Jezebel sounding.

Peter Gilmore: No. Satanic music is specific to each person. So to me, Satanic music is the symphony, which to me is the highest art form. So Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, Shostakovich — to me that’s some of the most Satanic music ever written because the architecture is there, the expressivity is there; the reflection on the human condition is all present and it’s not idealistic. It’s mostly questioning or showing what a human is capable of doing. And I love architecture. Cathedrals are wonderful. I have no hatred of those because they are put to religious use. They have symbols on them, but I know those are just symbols. I love skyscrapers too.
 

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