South African Satanist Church is closed to the public, who are not members, to protect the identities of TV personalities and leading businessmen who are practising satanists.
So said its co-founder, Riaan Swiegelaar, on Monday night when he and fellow co-founder Adri Norton were interviewed on Open View’s eNews and Sports channel.
Swiegelaar said his congregation did not believe in “the devil” or “Satan”.
A debate on social media flared up following the interview, despite the church having opened in Century City, Cape Town, in February.
On Tuesday night, the pair took to Facebook to “clear up misconceptions” which they had encountered online.
Some members of the public asked if they could attend a service, to which Swiegelaar said: “We look after our members as if it were our family. Please understand that many of us, many satanists, are not that accepted by their families. Therefore, we have become like a family.
“I personally would protect my family at all times. We have very well-known personalities, people who are on TV daily, in our congregation … as well as prominent businessmen.
“So, to protect their identity, we’re certainly not going to allow members of the public to come to satanic rituals.”
The couple said there were certain “rites of passage” – such as satanic weddings, satanic naming ceremonies, and more – which members of their congregation might wish to invite family, and were welcome to do so.
There was also satanic “Bible study”, which members of the public could try remotely.
“You will immediately know if you are a satanist or not,” Swiegelaar promised.
Norton said she was against members of the public participating in satanic rituals without the proper induction into the religion – and participating in activities such as “chanting affirmations”, sometimes with drums – could be “very emotional” if members of the public came in cold.
The church hit the news when it was ostensibly “registered”. On its website, it states itself as a not-for-profit company.
Among its “9 Satanic Statements” are: “Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence [although it does not say in what]; Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek and Satan is the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.”
But Swiegelaar was clear: “We do not believe in the devil, or Satan, as an external deity or a being. We revere Satan as an archetype, as a symbol for pride, for joy, for the carnal nature of humanity.”
The church’s founders reminded the public it also practiced safe Covid-19 rituals – and were not open to large crowds of congregants under Level 3.