Religious Studies 132W

Philip Jenkins

Fall 2003


The Myth of the Dangerous Outsider

The "Standard Format"


The myth holds that:


There is a group of outsiders organized in a network of clandestine underground groups. This is a widespread group, national or possibly international in scope. Each group is organized on tightly disciplined and hierarchical lines, and keeps tight secrecy. The groups' practices are based on a principle of inversion, reversing all the norms and standards of civilized society, praising or worshipping principles like death, chaos, anarchy and evil. This principle characterizes the rituals of the sects, especially the initiation practices, which involve extreme acts of violence or sexual perversion. These rituals reflect the beliefs of the sect, and at the same time, serve to keep initiates from returning to "normal" society.


The rituals of the sect involve a variety of practices that often include the following: the sacrifice of animals and humans; sexual rituals featuring every conceivable perversion; cannibalism and the skinning or mutilation of children and babies; the use or consumption of urine, feces or menses; grave robbery and corpse abuse; orgiastic gatherings featuring bizarre ritual music and dancing.


The groups especially target children as victims, who are abducted or seduced into a variety of practices including incest, cannibalism and human sacrifice.


The groups are associated with a variety of ancillary evils, including disease and economic disaster. They survive because they have heavily infiltrated government and law enforcement, where there are many clandestine members of the sect.




Norman Cohn, Europe's Inner Demons, New York: Basic Books 1975


Carlo Ginzburg, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath, New York: Pantheon, 1991.


R. Po-chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder, Yale University Press 1988.


Philip A. Kuhn, Soul Stealers: the Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768 Harvard University Press, 1990


James F. Richardson, Joel Best and David Bromley, eds, The Satanism Scare, New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1991



Dangerous Outsiders


I.Three things are brought against us Christians: atheism, Thyestean feasts, and Oedipodean intercourse {sc. cannibalism and incestuous orgies} . . . . but these things are only idle tales and empty slanders . . . .  .


Athenagoras, Legatio pro Christianis, iii, 177 AD; from J. Stevenson ed., A New Eusebius, 71-72


II. They take the aborted offspring and grind it up with a mortar and pestle. And they season it with honey, pepper and other spices, and with aromatics, so as not to nauseate themselves. Doing this, all the participants . . . partake with their fingers of this ground-up baby . . . .And they consider this to be the perfect Passover.


St Epiphanius on the heretical "Borborite" sect, c.375AD, adapted from Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures, New York: Doubleday, 1987.


III. From thenceforth the Jews have conspired

This innocent out of the world to chase

An homicide thereto have they hired

That in an alley had a privy place

And as the child began thereby to pace

This cursed Jew seized him, held him fast

And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast


Adapted from Chaucer's Prioress' Tale


IV. That witches who are midwives in various ways kill the child conceived in the womb, and procure an abortion; or if they do not do this, they offer new-born children to devils.


Question XI of the Malleus Maleficarum, c1480


V. Satan is shown in the form of a goat preaching from a golden chair; the flame issuing from one of his five horns is to light the sabbath fires. On his right sits the queen of the sabbath, and kneeling before them a witch presents a child she has abducted. Partaking of the sabbath feast are witches and demons; only the meat of corpses, hanged men, hearts of unbaptized children, and unclean animals never eated by Christians are eaten. At the extreme right, poor witches who dare not approach the high ceremonies watch the festivities.

After the banquet, the devils lead their neighbors beneath acursed tree where, forming a ring facing alternately inward and outward, the company dance in the most indecent manner possible. At the left of the picture musicians play in accompaniment to the dancing and below them a troop of women and girls dance back to back in a circle. A group of noble lords and ladies mingle with rich and powerful witches who are disguised or masked to avoid recognition and who conduct the important business of the sabbath.

During the sabbath, witches arrive on pitchforks and broomsticks, or on goats with their children whom they will present to Satan. Children, with sticks to prevent toads from getting out of a stream, assist witches to brew poisons; one witch holds serpents and toads, the other skins them and throws them in the pot.


Caption to illustration in Pierre de Lancre, Tableau de l'Inconstance des Mauvaises Anges (1612)


VI. {The Mother Superior} gave me another piece of information which excited other feelings in me . . . .Infants were sometimes born in the Convent, but they were always baptized, and immediately strangled. This secured their everlasting happiness; for the baptism purifies them from all sinfulness, and being sent out of the world before they had time to do any wrong, they were at once admitted into Heaven . . ..  .How different did a Convent now appear from what I supposed it to be!


The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, c.1835


VII. {Satanists are connected with} the murders of unbaptized infants, child sexual abuse in daycare, rape, ritual abuse of children, drug trafficking, arson, pornography, kidnapping, vandalism, church desecration, corpse theft, sexual trafficking of children and the heinous mutilation, dismemberment and sacrifices of humans and animals. {they are} responsible for the deaths of more than sixty thousand Americans each year, including missing and runaway youth


The American Focus on Satanic Crime, 1988


VIII. I can say that there is a network of these people across the country who are very active, they have their own rest and relaxation farm, they are in contact with each other, it ties in loosely to the drug operation, it ties into motorcycle gangs and it goes on and on. They have their own people who specialize in surveillances and photography, and in assassinations


Ted Gunderson, FBI 1988


IX. I have been told it is a common occurrence for these groups to kidnap their victims (usually infants and young children) from hospitals, orphanages, shopping centers and off the streets. I have been informed that satanists have been successful in their attempts to influence the Boy Scouts, and in recent years, have concentrated their efforts in recruiting Little League baseball players by infiltrating the coaching staffs and establishing pre-schools throughout the US.

A Boise, Idaho, police officer believes that fifty thousand to sixty thousand Americans disappear each year and are victims of human sacrifices of satanic cults. . . . . Most of the victims are cremated, thus there is no body and no evidence. I know of an occult supply store in Los Angeles, California that sells portable crematories.


The American Focus on Satanic Crime, 1988