- When Lawrence Harris Jr. of Sioux City, Iowa, murdered his two stepdaughters on January 4, 2008, the media pounced on reports that Harris had dabbled in both Wicca and Satanism. He had allegedly muttered something about a “spell gone bad” after police found the bodies of Kendra Suing, 10, and Alysha Suing, 8, in their home. Media reports and blog posts mentioned spells, LaVey’s Satanic Bible, and witchcraft at great length…but stayed away from the more pertinent issues of family violence and mental illness.
Later, Harris claimed he had been attempting to cast the spell on his stepson Triton, who wasn’t home at the time. Just how this led to the strangulation and stabbing of two little girls has never been adequately explained. In fact, this case remains about as clear as cola. Harris pled not guilty by reason of insanity, but was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Significantly, Harris’ religious interests were never brought up by the prosecution. Rather than focusing on Harris’ alleged Satanism, prosecutors argued (successfully, it would seem) that Harris killed Alysha and Kendra because he suspected his wife was having an affair, then faked insanity. If this is indeed the case, then witchcraft and Satanism are even mooter points than they were in the first place. Naturally, that doesn’t stop Fox News: “Iowa Man Convicted of Killing Two Stepdaughters During Satanic Ritual“.
- The prosecutor in the 2009 abduction/torture case of Joy Johnson and Joseph Craig took a completely different tack, declaring even before the start of trial that the defendants’ alleged confinement and abuse of another couple was directly related to Satanism. This came across as a transparent ploy to make the couple appear as deviant as possible (as if that was necessary). The bottom line is that Craig entered an Alford plea and Johnson pleaded guilty to committing crimes, not of practicing magick. The media’s insistence on highlighting their political and religious affiliations, rather than the nature of their alleged criminal activity, was the real scandal in this case. I don’t care if Johnson and Craig were Democrats, libertarians, or Communists. I don’t care if they worshiped Satan, Christ, or pumpkins. Creeps are creeps, and crime is crime.
- A staple of Western conspiranoia culture is that affluent, well-connected Satanists are operating massive child-trafficking rings throughout the world for the purposes of ritual abuse, ritual sacrifice, and child prostitution (see the “Franklin cover-up” hoax for one of many examples). But as I pointed out in this 2010 post about a group of Baptist missionaries, global child trafficking is not confined to any particular religion or tax bracket.
Whatever happened to those orphan-hustling Baptists in Haiti? Incredibly, nine of the ten people arrested were released without charge, leaving just one woman to face trial in Haiti for human trafficking. Laura Silsby was convicted, but went free after sentencing because her six-month prison sentence had “already been served”. You read that correctly. Abducting Haitian children gets you less prison time than stealing a car.
Wow. So where are the outraged conspiracy theorists, writing books and making documentaries about the Baptist conspiracy to steal and sell kids? Don’t any of them find it interesting that 33 Haitian children were taken…the very number sacred to Scottish Rite Freemasons?
- When I last checked in on him, in 2007, “occult expert” Jerry Johnston was in some hot water, facing allegations of financial mismanagement and other shady dealings at his Kansas megachurch.
Here’s what happened. In February 2011, First Family Church went into receivership, owing $14.4 in loans. At that time, First Family had an annual payroll of $915,000, with over $600,000 of that going to members of Jerry Johnston’s family. On September 11, 2011, First Family Church closed it doors.
- For a time, the Hosanna Church case in Ponchatoula, Louisiana appeared to be the world’s first authentic incident of Satanic ritual abuse. Pastor Louis Lamonica Jr. had confessed to molesting children in a ritualistic manner, and his clannish little following certainly fit the profile of a dangerous Satanic cult.
The problem was, the Hosanna church cultists weren’t Satanists. They were Christians. And when the case finally went to trial in 2008, two of the three children supposedly abused by cult members retracted their accusations on the witness stand. The two boys first gave retractions back in 2005, but prosecutors proceeded with the case anyway.
Far from worshiping Satan, church members attempted to expel demons from their bodies by purging and confessed their every sin to the charismatic assistant pastor, Lois Mowbray.
Again, where are the conspiracy theorists? They were all over this case when it was about Satanism, but they seem to have faded into the woodwork now that it’s all about deviant Christianity.
…and current conspiracy bullshitter.
So far, most of the ex-witches and former Satanists in this series have either faded into obscurity or died. This is not the case with Bill Schnoebelen. He was one of the very first “Ex-Men” to dominate the Christian conspiracy lecture circuit, beginning in 1984, and he is still with us. He might be with us for a long time to come, too, because he has an uncanny knack for tapping into the conspiranoid zeitgeist, claiming to possess inside info on every new menace that looms up to imperil Western civilization (I call this Forest Gump Syndrome).
Schnoebelen claims to have been, at various times between 1968 and the present:
- a Wiccan
- a “high Druidic” priest
- an Ordo Templi Orientis initiate (2nd degree)
- a channeler
- a Satanist
- a member of the Illuminati
- a Mormon
- a Catholic priest
- a 90th Degree Freemason
- a 9th Degree Rosicrucian
- a Knight Templar
- a Gnostic bishop
- a spiritualist priest
- a vampire
- a naturopathic physician
- a member of Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s Church Universal and Triumphant
- a fundamentalist Christian/ordained minister
Nowadays, he’s also a self-declared expert on natural healing and the “medical conspiracy”. I’m guessing he’s one of those people who takes forever deciding in a restaurant.
There is evidence that Bill Schnoebelen actually did do many of the things he talks about. But like John Todd, he smeared Mormons, Freemasons, and many other groups as closet Satanists, and made some claims that are profoundly absurd.
The Road to Everything
Schnoebelen was born into a devoutly Roman Catholic family in 1949, the only child of a tire shop co-owner and a housewife. He was raised in Jessup, Iowa. (3)
Bill says he was a faithful Catholic throughout his young adulthood, and even aspired to the priesthood, but was always prone to the dark and mysterious forces of the world. Trick-or-treating at the age of 8 or 9, he saw leathery, bat-like creatures filling the night sky. At 12, near his family’s lake cottage in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, he saw a gigantic black figure rise up from the horizon to “bestride the heavens”. It walked over him and vanished beyond a hillock. He believes this was a Wendigo. He also had more typical childhood fascinations like UFOs and haunted houses, but someday he would consider these further manifestations of evil in his life. (2)
After high school, Bill still intended to become a priest. First, though, he enrolled at a small Catholic school called Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa. It was here, in that crazy year of 1968, that a few New Agey professors and the counter-fundamentalist influence of Vatican II persuaded Bill that man can become Christ. Christ, his liberal teachers taught him, was basically a magician or ascended master who had studied the occult. So, Bill began studying the occult to become more Christ-like. This was his first step into a revolving door of religious traditions that would keep him walking in circles for over 15 years. (1)
Step 1: Witch
After some occult study, Bill decided to become a witch. He wrote to Alex Sanders, the self-proclaimed “King of the Witches”, who referred him to a Massachusetts-based coven. Bill ultimately reached the third degree of Alexandrian Wicca. Note, please, that his initiation didn’t involve roosters or blood like the bizarre rites supposedly experienced by Doreen Irvine and Mike Warnke. Note also that Schnoebolen has not mentioned any Satanic scripture, like most of the “former witches” we’ve seen so far.
Bill graduated from Loras College in May 1971 with a major in music and a minor in education. (He claims he received his Masters in Theological Studies degree from the St. Francis School of Pastoral Ministry in 1980 and his Master of Arts degree in counseling from Liberty University in 1990.)
He says he took a leave of absence of absence from seminary in the early ’70s. He taught music at a Catholic school for a couple of years, and met his future wife while volunteering as a counselor at a drug rehab clinic. Sharon Mullen, apparently one of the clinic’s patients, was a married mother of two. Like Bill, she was deeply into witchcraft and the occult. Around 1973 she left her husband and kids to be with him. (3)
That summer, the couple traveled to Hattieville, Arkansas, to study under the “Grand Master Druid of all North America”. Bill doesn’t name this fellow, but he was Barney “Eli” Taylor. (3) Taylor ran something called the Mental Science Institute and taught herbal magic in the druidic witchcraft tradition. He made Sharon and Bill a high priestess and high priest, which basically means he issued them a certificate similar to the ones dispensed to John Todd and Tom Sanguinet by Gavin Frost in the ’70s. It is incredibly unlikely that Bill and Sharon “learned all the mysteries of hermeticism and metal magic and natural medicine and more” in three months, as he claims. (1) Occult study is not a cram course.
They also saw hovering UFOs every single night, as they studied under the stars. Schnoebelen later contradicted this claim by saying he has seen UFOs about three times in his life. (2)
Bill and Sharon returned to the Midwest to “spread the gospel of witchcraft” (something witches generally don’t do). They had a handfasting ceremony in Zion, Illinois, supposedly attended by 200 witches. (1)
They settled in Milwaukee to teach witchcraft and establish covens. Bill claims they drew in hundreds of eager followers, but one of those followers, Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, begs to differ. He claims the Schnoebelens founded just two covens in Milwaukee, containing 30-40 members. By this time, Bill had legally changed his named to Christopher Pendragon Syn, and Sharon called herself Alexandra. They both appeared to possess a great deal of occult knowledge, and at first the covens operated smoothly. According to Frater Barrabbas, things turned sour when Bill and Sharon formed complex romantic entanglements with their followers and began playing them against each other. He attributes the mental collapse of one of Bill’s lovers to these cruel mind games. (3)
Step 2: Warlock, Mason, and Illuminati Member
As a result of his occult studies, Bill was a spiritualist priest and a trance channeler. He often consulted numerous spirit guides, the highest of which Frater Barabbas identifies as Ambrosius and Parlemanon. (3) Bill read Anton LeVey’s Satanic Bible at the suggestion of one of these spirit guides, and promptly joined the Church of Satan. He reached the second degree, “Warlock”, before realizing that LeVey’s brand of Satanism was harmless “kid stuff”. He aspired to what he calls “hardcore Satanism”, and to enter that realm he had to become a Freemason. (1) (The supposed connection between Satanism and Freemasonry was also trumpeted by John Todd in the mid-’80s.)
Frater Barrabbas says it was his father who sponsored Bill into Freemasonry. After Bill reached the third degree, his interest waned and he stopped participating on a regular basis.
Bill then branched out into esoteric Freemasonry. He claims he reached the thirty-second degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, as well, and in his lectures displayed the certificate issued to him. He says he also became a Rosicrucian (9th Degree) and a Knight Templar. (1)
Schnoebelen offers up a wealth of misinformation about Freemasonry and the Knights Templar. For instance, in his Prophecy Club lecture (c. 1996), he declared that Freemasonry is “basically Babylonian witchcraft” and is anti-Christian. He said Jacques de Molay was a pedophile (de Molay confessed under torture to homosexual acts; it’s not known if he was really gay or not, much less a pedophile). He also talked about Jesuit mind control, claiming that Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises are “profoundly occult” in nature, and formed the basis of Illuminati mind control techniques. This is absurd. Loyola recommended meditation and daily prayer to achieve deeper devotion to God and indifference to the material world. If that’s occultism, then virtually all priestly and monastic disciplines are occult.
Here’s where Bill’s story goes seriously off the rails. So far, none of his claims are particularly outlandish. But after he had covered “all the branches of Masonry there are to do”, he signed his soul over to Satan in a Black Book (in blood, of course). The contract entitled him to seven years of anything he wanted, at the end of which he would be killed and taken to Hell. This wasn’t such a bad thing, he explains, because hardcore Satanists view Hell as a sort of eternal party. (1)
This nonsense comes straight out of medieval folklore and has no basis in actuality, of course. You cannot sign a pact with Satan any more than you can sign a pact with God, or an angel, or the evil monkey who lives in your closet. Ask yourself, why did Schnoebolen admittedly work at a series of menial jobs throughout these years, if Satan had granted him anything he desired?
The silliness hits a new high with Bill’s claim that he was recruited into the Illuminati when fellow Freemasons noticed he had an occult background. This is contradicted by Frater Barrabbas, who says the Masons were unaware of Bill’s occult interests. (3)
Bill implies that his entry into the Illuminati wasn’t assured, that he slipped in via some arcane loophole. Spirit guides provided him with the appropriate “secret passwords”.
He describes three steps that each Illuminati Mason must go through, in addition to learning the arts of tantric sex and opening the third eye with hallucinogens. The first step is illumination. Bill described this as being “deluged in the blinding white light of Lucifer. It felt like my brain was being parboiled in pure light.” Step two is communion with the dead, something he had already mastered as a trance medium. Bill claims he had long chats with Jesus, Buddha, Zoraster, Hitler, Aleister Crowley, and others.
Step three is sex with a fallen angel, an “appalling and bizarre” process. Bill was formally married to his angel, a ceremony we’ll see again in the case of Dr. Rebecca Brown and the “former Satanist” known as Elaine. Apparently this is not considered bigamy, as Bill was already married to Sharon when he became an Illuminati member.
To accept this nonsense, one must accept that Richard Nixon and other high-level politicians did these things, too, because Bill informs us that many of the world’s elite were fellow Illuminists.
Step 3: Priest
Wait, it gets stupider. To “level up” to the hardcore Satanic high priesthood, Bill had to recruit seven people to sell their souls, and become a Catholic priest. He says medieval literature supports his contention that all Satanic high priests are also Catholic priests. (1) However, it isn’t required that you become an orthodox Catholic priest; it’s good enough just to be “ordained”, as both Schnoebolen and Mike Warnke were, as a “bishop” of the Old Catholic Church. This wasn’t difficult. Bill found a “bishop” who was willing to ordain him in exchange for being made a witch priest. Frater Barrabbas identifies this man as Edward M. Stehlik. (3)
Bill then became involved with the Patriarch of the Gnostic Catholic Church in Chicago, and was also made a bishop in that church. Oddly, he refers to this church as the Order of Memphis and Mizraim. They are not the same thing. The Gnostic Catholic Church is a branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and is not officially affiliated with esoteric Freemasonry.
At any rate, Bill claims to have reached the ninetieth of ninety-seven degrees in the Order of Memphis and Mizraim (never mind that it only has ninety degrees). He was also initiated into the OTO at some point. Now the story reaches its zenith of ridiculousness.
Step 4: Vampire
His mastery of Freemasonry in all its forms allowed Bill to “cross the abyss”, an occult term referring to a state of enlightenment. Under the system of hardcore Satanism he had chosen, he now had to decide between two paths: Lycanthropy or vampirism. He selected vampirism, because the werewolves he knew had undergone some unpleasant experiences.
As it turned out, vampirism wasn’t so jolly, either. In the church of a Chicago vampire cult, Bill was made to drink the blood of what he believes to be a fallen angel, and underwent a physical transformation: His blood type changed, he could consume only blood and Catholic hosts, his skin blistered in the sun, and he couldn’t be near garlic. He carefully notes that he could not turn into a bat. Whew. For a minute there, I thought his imagination was getting the better of him. I mean, fallen angels and garlic are one thing, but bats? Let’s not be silly.
A small harem of witches provided Bill with blood, but as time went on he required more and more of it. As a Milkwaukee Sentinal deliveryman, he would see a hooker and “it would be all that I could do not to leap on that woman and rip her throat out and just drink every drop of blood out of her body.” Only his love for his wife prevented him from doing it. (1)
This is quite easily one of the most bizarre and least plausible claims ever made by an ex-witch in North America. It is also profoundly disturbing. I think it goes without saying that Bill Schnoebolen was not physically transformed into a vampire, so why on earth would he tell us about his homicidal fantasies? “Former Satanists” like to exaggerate their evil nature to make their Christian conversion stories as dramatic as possible (Mike Warnke essentially admitted as such on The Jim Bakker Show), but wanting to rip out the throats of prostitutes is beyond the pale. Even inventing such fantasies is indicative of mental imbalance, in my opinion.
Schnoebelen also claims to have been a cocaine addict during this period, though he was a peer counselor for addicts before and after his years as a Satanist. How and when he kicked the habit is unknown.
Step 5: Christian
As we have seen, all the testimonies of former witches and ex-Satanists feature dramatic conversion stories. This is the ultimate purpose of the testimonies; to show that anyone, even the most debauched devil-worshiper, can be saved by Christ.
There are problems with Schnoebelen’s conversion story. He claims that in 1984, one of his “tithe checks” to the Church of Satan bounced and was returned to him with a note scrawled on it by a Christian bank teller: “I’ll be praying for you in the name of Jesus.”
This makes no sense in the context of his hardcore Satanism/Illuminati stories. Bill clearly stated that the Church of Satan was “entry level” Satanism, and that he had surpassed it by becoming a real, hardcore Satanist. So why was he still a member of the CoS nearly a decade later? To make a bad analogy, that would be like paying your Brownie dues long after you’ve become a Girl Scout.
The prayers of the unknown Christian bank teller triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to Bill’s salvation. First, he lost all his magical and vampiric powers. This was a major setback, as he was “probably one of the most powerful warlocks on the west coast of Lake Michigan.” This was when he decided he needed to become a Mormon. (1)
Yeah, you read that correctly. He had to become a Mormon. This is because the LDS church was founded “by witches, for witches”, as a sort of deep cover. Schnoebelen later wrote a book about it: Mormonism’s Temple of Doom. (1)
There is a minute grain of truth in this assertion. Certain practices of Joseph Smith, including the use of scrying stones, are indicative of folk magic. But to call Smith a full-fledged witch would be absurd in the extreme; he was a Christian, not an adherent of any earth religion or occult belief system. The modern-day beliefs and practices of Mormons in no way resemble witchcraft.
The allegation that Mormons secretly practice witchcraft or worship Satan is not unique to Schnoebolen’s testimony, unfortunately. For instance, prominent conspiracy theorist A. True Ott, a former member of the LDS Church, claims that Mormons ritually sacrifice humans in their Salt Lake City temple. It is a smear intended to utterly discredit Mormonism, a sect that has been despised and feared by mainstream Protestants since its inception.
Schnoebelen also claims he belonged to Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT), a cult-like New Age sect. CUT is currently based in Montana, but in the ’70s it operated out of California. So it’s not impossible Schnoebelen had some dealings with Prophet’s followers. (2)
Like all the other people in this series, Bill portrays witchcraft and Satanism (falsely) as the exact same thing. He also claims that one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, Elder James E. Faust, personally told him that Lucifer is the god of Mormonism.
In a Prophecy Club lecture given around 1996, Schnoeblen openly encouraged Christians to fear, reject, and disdain Mormons and Freemasons. At the same time, he displayed a disdain for homosexuals, and a total lack of knowledge about the nature of sexual orientation. “If you’ve got one Mason in your congregation…you’re gonna end up with a kind of bad apple spoiling the whole barrel routine…You never have one of these dudes in a church, ’cause they start recruiting. Masons are like homosexuals, they can’t reproduce themselves naturally – yeah, amen! – they can only recruit.” (1)
Though Mormonism was just another one of Bill’s spiritual dead ends, it led him to true salvation by spurring him to read the Bible for the very first time (rather strange for a former seminarian!). He realized that St. Paul could never have been a Mormon – he doesn’t explain why he reached this conclusion – and finally gave his life to Christ on June 22, 1984. (1)
As a Christian, Bill penned many books and tracts about the alleged evils of witchcraft, the occult, UFOs, Satanism, Mormonism, and Dungeons & Dragons. He claimed the creators of D&D consulted his Satanic coven in the late ’70s because they wanted to make their game “authentic” (Dungeons and Dragons was created in the early ’70s, and it’s about as authentically Satanic as Taco Bell food is authentically Tex-Mex). His article “Straight Talk on Dungeons and Dragons” is still available on Jack Chick’s website, along with the nonsense of John Todd. Chick is a strong supporter of Schnoebelen, and offers his book Lucifer Dethroned for sale.
Though he knows perfectly well that witches are not Satanists and Mormons are not witches, Schnoebelen continues to spread this misinformation via lectures, DVDs, and his With One Accord ministry.
In 2006, Schnoebelen sat down with Stephanie Relfe for a 9-hour interview that was packaged as a DVD, Interview with an Ex-Vampire. I’ve mentioned Mrs. Relfe on this blog before; she and her husband, Michael, used kinesiology to unlock Michael’s buried memories of being a U.S. government slave on Mars. Both Relfes, back on Earth, experienced extensive contact with aliens (Michael was also repeatedly abducted by military personnel). Their first child was teleported out of Stephanie’s womb by Reptilians.
Mrs. Relfe uncritically accepts Schnoebelen’s stories at face value, even the most absurd and fantastical ones. She listens patiently as Bill describes how a fellow Satanist summoned a mighty demon in his garage. Bill was a scribe at this ceremony, so he witnessed everything. The man successfully summoned a slithery, tentacled monster that filled the room, but made the mistake of stepping outside his magic circle to answer the phone. As it turned out, the ringing was a demonic illusion and the man was whisked away to another dimension by the demon. Because the story wouldn’t be believed, Bill said, he and the man’s wife never bothered to alert the authorities to his disappearance. He doesn’t provide names, a date, or a location.
Step 6: Naturopathic physician
“Naturopathy” is an extremely loose term that encompasses a broad range of alternative medicine, holistic health practices, and quackery. There are a few institutions that offer real degrees in naturopathy, but as Schnoebelen has not revealed where or when he received his, we have no idea if it’s valid or not.
As the alternative health biz is hot these days, Schnoebelen gave another Prophecy Club lecture on the “medical conspiracy”, explaining how the evil pharmaceutical companies are suppressing miraculous natural cures and whatnot. (4)
In the ’90s, Schnoebelen said he was working as a counselor specializing in addictions treatment. This is a bit alarming, as he doesn’t have any formal education or training in this field. Even more alarming is the fact that he believes there are about two million victims of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) in the U.S., and treats some of those victims. In the ’80s and ’90s, even many fully-qualified professionals who treated SRA patients used highly questionable methods of treatment such as recovered memory therapy. I don’t even want to imagine the psychological damage an amateur therapist like Schnoebelen could do. But then, I don’t have to imagine it.
Schnoebelen says Dissociative Identity Disorder is caused by “scientifically inserted demons”. This medieval notion – that mental illness can be attributed to demonic possession – has no place in modern therapy. Even if deliverance has some limited efficacy in alleviating a patient’s symptoms, it doesn’t address the underlying cause(s) of the condition.
Schnoebelen is also of the misguided opinion that once a person becomes a Christian, he/she is fully healed of all psychological trauma resulting from childhood abuse and has no further need of therapy. Therefore, his goal as a counselor is probably just to convince emotionally vulnerable people that they must accept Christ as their personal saviour. Using “therapy” as a cover for proselytization is unethical in the extreme.
Schnoebelen’s take on history is equally mangled. He believes Josef Mengele was brought to the U.S. under Project Paperclip (he wasn’t; he fled to South America with a Vatican-issued passport). He says Mengele had experimented with mind control and cloning in Germany (he had nothing to do with either).
He says we’ve been successfully cloning animals since the 1940s. Dolly the sheep was just a cover.
As evidence that a UFO crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in the year of Aleister Crowley’s death, Schnoebelen produced an artist’s rendering of a “long-range photo” showing two military policemen walking a tiny alien on a leash. Since the object that crashed in the desert was not extraterrestrial, this drawing-of-an-alleged-photo is obviously a crude hoax. No sane, rational person would accept it as evidence of anything.
Schnoebelen also gives credence to Eisenhower’s supposed meeting with aliens, Betty Hill’s “map” of Zeta Reticuli, and Reptilian sightings in malls beneath Salt Lake City. He speculates that aliens are really fallen angels, paving the way for the Antichrist. He wonders if SRA victims and alien abductees have implants that are really “tiny remote-controlled neutron bombs”. (1)
His Biblical exegesis isn’t much better. Schnoebelen believes that in I Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul seems to be warning women to be under the headship of men so they won’t be screwed by fallen angels. He suspects Adam and Eve may not have had blood until they ate the forbidden fruit, and that fallen angels must drink human blood to become sexually functional. (1)
When it comes to witchcraft, however, Schnoebelen shows himself more knowledgeable than his peers. He acknowledges that witches are just ordinary people, capable of love. He admits that Wicca is probably not ancient; Gerald Gardner’s New Forest coven was, in all likelihood, fictional. He knows that the Druids had no written language, and that our knowledge of their practices and beliefs is limited. This is quite a contrast to John Todd, Irene Park, and Tom Sanguinet, who attributed all sorts of evil deeds to the Druids. (2)
Some (Very Obvious) Problems with Schnoebolen’s Testimony
Why was he studying for a Masters degree in theology at a pastoral school and practicing Satanism at the same time, four years before he was saved?
Mormons are not witches. Mormons do not worship Lucifer. Witches do not worship Lucifer. If Mormons are secretly worshiping the Devil, why would Elder Faust confide this to two relatively new converts?
Freemasons are not Satanists, and Satanic high priests are not required to become Freemasons. Though rumours and hoaxes have attributed all manner of evil doings to Freemasonry, it is generally a benign fraternal organization.
Satanists are not required to become Catholic priests. Catholics are not permitted to be Freemasons. It is far more likely that Schnoebelen, like Mike Warnke, was drawn to the Old Catholic Church for reasons of his own, such as receiving the grand title of “bishop” without having to earn it.
Schnoebelen likened the Illuminati to Communist cells, compartmentalized in such a way that each member knows only one or two others. How, then, can the members engage in tantric sex with each other? How do they oversee and instruct one another? Who performed the ceremony in which he married his fallen angel? How can you even be sure the Illuminati truly exists, if you only know two of its supposed members?
Schnoebelen identifies Aleister Crowley as the key figure in his occult life, but gets many of the details about Crowley’s life and work seriously wrong. He claims Crowley was “probably the most highly honored Mason in the world”. In the recent Crowley autobiography Perdurabo, however, author Richard Kaczynski states that Crowley was not recognized as a Mason at all. Nor was Crowley a raper of children who “boasted of slaughtering 150 boys in a single year.” Crowley did write of child sacrifice in his book Magick in Theory and Practice, but made it clear that not everything in the book should be taken literally. There is no evidence that he ever physically harmed a child. On the contrary, most children enjoyed his company.
Schnoebelen also blames Crowley for Hitler, the Tunguska explosion, and “Transyuggothian magick“. Like John Todd, he suggests that H.P. Lovecraft had access to secret knowledge about demonic/alien entities. He says the Simon Necronomicon contains about half of the “real” Necronomicon, which is utter b.s. He points out that in both “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Dunwich Horror”, human women breed with nonhuman creatures. “I believe these stories are absolutely true…” (1)
Schnoebelen claims the Royal Secret of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is the sodomy of young boys, which occultists believe allows them to access a realm of “trans-Plutonian space” and gives them an illusion of immortality. He says even “good” Masons can be drawn into pedophilia and homosexuality. (1)
Again, he’s betraying a total ignorance of sexual orientation and attributing atrocious crimes to an organization that is, for the most part, benevolent. Predatory pedophiles are not over-represented in Freemasonry, and no occult tradition requires one to rape children.
Schnoebelen makes similar allegations against Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set. He says Aquino was charged of child abuse three times, but the charges didn’t stick “probably because of government involvement.” (1)
First off, it was the government (the military) who investigated Aquino in the first place. Secondly, he was never charged with any crime. The investigations dead-ended, not because of government intervention but because the allegations were made by hysterical parents who feared that Colonel Aquino, an out-of-the-closet Satanist, was the child-raping, virgin-slaying devil of modern legend. It is very interesting that Aquino was never accused of a single crime until he outed himself as a Satanist.
In addition to his ridiculous stories about Catholic mind control and the Illuminati, Schnoebelen pulled out some of the same discredited conspiracy myths used by John Todd, such as the factoid that Freemason Albert Pike was a Satanist (a feature of the Taxil hoax). Also in common with Todd, he criticized Star Wars, soap operas, and romance novels. He told his Prophecy Club audience that because the U.S. government treats its citizens like “idiot children”, they turn to drugs and booze and fantasy (Star Trek, Star Wars, soaps, etc.). “As a result of this, most people end up on the dole, or in mental hospitals.” (1)
Excuse me? Most Americans are welfare recipients, and Star Trek is responsible for this? Since when?
If Schnoebelen legally wed a fallen angel, then I suggest he produce a marriage or divorce certificate to verify his story. Or at least pull out some wedding photos.
The stupidest and least tenable of all his claims, of course, is the assertion that he was a “real” vampire. Though Bill would have us believe that lycanthropy and vampirism are real supernatural phenomena with physiological manifestations, there is zero evidence to support that. No one needs to subsist on human blood. Blood type cannot change under any circumstances. If you are born AB positive, you will die AB positive. Faux vampirism and delusional lycanthropy certainly exist, but real vampires and werewolves do not. Duh.
1. Schnoebelen’s Prophecy Club talk “Exposing the Illuminati from Within” (c. 1996)
2. “Interview with an Ex-Vampire” (Schnoebelen’s 2006 interview with Stephanie Relfe)
3. Frater Barrabbas Tiresius’ 4-part blog series on Schnoebelen @ Talking About Ritual Magick
4. Schnoebelen’s Prophecy Club talk “The Medical Conspiracy” (date unknown)
The only positive thing I can say about the late John Todd is that makes a lot of other “former witches” look good by comparison. At the height of his fame as a “former witch”, he was a sexual predator, a military impostor, and a practicing witch who used several aliases.
John Todd emerged on the Christian scene around 1968, at least four years before Mike Warnke (according to the Cornerstone article on Warnke, he accused Warnke of stealing some of his Illuminati material), but never gained the level of mainstream popularity that Warnke did. His tales of Satanic intrigue were just too dark and outlandish for the average Christian. Frankly, you would have to be either blissfully innocent or profoundly stupid to buy any of Todd’s b.s.
He was ultimately relegated to the far-right fringe, preaching to militia members and Christian Patriots about the endtimes and the need to establish armed strongholds. One of his last known locations before his arrest was Iowa, where he attached himself to a paranoid young couple named Randy and Vicki Weaver. He convinced the Weavers they needed to get away from populated areas and prepare for the end of the world. We all know how that turned out.
Even though his anti-occult invective wasn’t as appealing as Warnke’s, Todd still has his fans. Old audio recordings of his diatribes have popped up on YouTube, where he is vaunted as an Illuminati insider, framed by The Powers That Be. Henry Makow still promotes his story.
Who is John Todd?
No one really knows. His background is so occluded that even the year of his birth is in doubt. Possibly he was born in Ohio around 1950. He was taken into foster care as a youth. He suffered epileptic seizures throughout his life.
He was fairly good-looking and extremely tall (about 6’4″).
Given his peculiar fascination with daytime television and gay porn movies, I strongly suspect he was a failed actor.
Todd first surfaced on the fundamentalist Christian scene in Arizona in 1968, performing as a Pentacostal preacher. He was about 19 or 20 years old, married to a slightly older woman named Linda. Earlier that year he had been arrested in Columbus, Ohio for malicious destruction of property.
He told Pastor James Outlaw of the Jesus Name Church that he had recently been saved at a Pentacostal church service after practicing witchcraft in the Navy, and wanted to be re-baptized as a Jesus Only believer.
He then vanished for several years, resurfacing in 1973 as a born again warlock. He again said he had been saved at a Pentacostal church service, and identified himself as an independent Baptist, but preached mostly to charismatics. He was now married to a woman named Sharon Garver.
He went on the fundamentalist lecture circuit in Cali, educating churchgoers about the international Satanic conspiracy. His talks were a blend of pop conspiranoia, anti-occult fearmongering, and tell-all braggadocio.
Todd said his real name was Lance Collins, and he had been born into a powerful family of devil-worshiping witches with ties to the Illuminati. His mother was so consumed by guilt and shame because of her deeds that she spent her life in and out of mental health facilities.
His foster mother was the high priestess of all the witches in California, and his sister had been made the high priestess of Ohio at the tender age of 13. The Collinses were direct descendants of Scottish Druids who posed as Puritans and imported witchcraft to America before helping to establish the Illuminati.
Todd was perhaps the first “former Satanist” to come from a Satanic family, but within a few years this would be the norm.
The hereditary Satanism he described bears little resemblance to Doreen Irvine’s “black witchcraft”, and no resemblance whatsoever to Mike Warnke’s “third level” Satanism. Presumably, as an Illuminati member, Todd was privy to knowledge that Warnke never imagined.
He was reared on a diet of “occult” teachings: ufology, spells, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis.
Witch parents aren’t allowed to love or discipline their children; kids belong to the cult. At age 13 or 14, boys are sent to witch schools called Outer Courts to be trained as Satanic priests. Todd was initiated into the priesthood at 14. His sister became such a powerful high priestess that she could summon demons in the form of UFOs.
At age 18, while serving as a Green Beret, Todd became the high priest of his coven.
The Illuminati Todd describes is a configuration of pure evil represented (in part) by Freemasons, Mormons, international finance, Communists, and – paradoxically – the John Birch Society. He explained that very few Jews belong to the Illuminati, but the Rothschilds are at the top of the pyramid, totally controlling the illustrious Council of 13. All Illuminati members, whatever their supposed religious affiliation, are actually devil worshipers.
He claimed to know a great deal about the inner workings of Freemasonry, yet always called it “Masonary“. He also called the Trilateral Commission “the Trilateral Council”, and the Council on Foreign Relations “the Council of Foreign Affairs”.
Clearly, he was somewhat familiar with John Birch literature. But he never explained why the John Birch Society, as part of the Illuminati conspiracy, would expose all these real Illuminati fronts.
Let’s move on to the Satanism. Todd was, of course, a high-ranking Satanist within the Illuminati. He belonged to a Grand Druid Council headed by Raymond Buckland, the man hand-picked by Philippe Rothschild to head the Illuminati and a professor of anthropology at Columbia. Buckland revealed to Todd many things known only to high-level witches; lower-level witches were hand-fed disinformation and nonsense. He also received some witchcraft training from Ruth Carter Stapleton, sister of future president Jimmy Carter.
Buckland, as you may know, was indeed a very prominent witch. But he never taught at Columbia, and wasn’t an anthropologist. He was a flight attendant for British Airways.
According to Todd, Satanists don’t congregate. This is quite a contrast to Doreen Irvine’s gatherings, which attracted up to 1000 black witches, and to Mike Warnke’s San Bernadino-area coven of 1500.
In Todd’s form of witchcraft, Satanists dealt directly with their high priests. They didn’t even know the other members of their covens.
The central scripture of Satanism is the Necronomicon, but copies are rare. The only copies known to Todd were kept in St. Petersburg, Glasgow, and the British Library.
In case you’re keeping track, that makes three different sacred texts in just three different “ex Satanist” accounts: The Book of Satan (Doreen Irvine), The Great Mother (Mike Warnke), and a book that doesn’t freaking exist (Todd). But hey, at least we’ve heard of the Necronomicon. Those other two books don’t seem to exist even in the realm of fiction.
All three cults were supposedly organized on a national level, and two encompassed the whole planet. So why aren’t all these Satanists using the same books?
And just for the record, Lovecraft stories never named St. Petersburg or Glasgow as locations of the Necronomicon. There were copies at the British Museum, Harvard, the Biblioteque Nationale, the University of Buenos Aires, and Miskatonic University.
Todd also referred to the book several times as the “Necromonicon“, just as he called Masonry “Masonary“.
Sheesh, he couldn’t even get his bullshit right.
In ’69, Todd enlisted in the military. Illuminati witches are exempt from military service, but he wanted to set up some covens in other countries and this was a convenient cover. He served in Vietnam as a Green Beret before being transferred to Germany. One night, in Stuttgart, he got crazy drunk and high and (for reasons known only to him) engaged in a firefight with one of his former commanding officers. The man was killed. From military confinement, Todd phoned his foster mother in L.A. and asked her to cast a spell on the members of the jury at his imminent court martial, to make them believe he was innocent. (It would have been simpler to cast a spell on the commanding officer in charge of the court martial, but what do I know? I’m not a Satanic Illuminati witch.)
Instead, someone pulled major strings for Todd. A Senator, a Congressman, and two generals personally escorted him out of his cell. He received an honorable discharge, no questions asked. The Army even destroyed all Todd’s military records to help preserve the secrecy of the Illuminati.
In reality, Todd’s papers were not destroyed. And they tell a slightly different story: He served as a clerk in the Army from February 1969 to July 1970 without ever setting foot in Vietnam. He was stationed in Germany for less than a month and was discharged under a Section 8. You know, that thing Klinger was always trying to get by running around in drag? I wonder just how unstable a person would have to be to get a Section 8 during ‘Nam. I’m guessing “Charlie Sheen”.
Anyway, Todd had been making death threats and false suicide reports. A psychiatric evaluation conducted in ’69 found he suffered emotional instability, pseudologica phantastica, and possibly brain damage as well. He was also treated for a drug overdose at an Army facility in Maryland in 1969.
Like evangelist/exorcist Bob Larson, Todd claimed to be a music industry insider. After ‘Nam, he was a manager at Zodiac Productions (variously described as “the largest music conglomerate in the world” and “the largest booking agency”), so he knew that every rock musician in America had to become a witch before he could get a recording contract, and that every master recording was taken to a Satanic temple to be possessed by a demon. Each major record label had its own temple.
In one of his anti-rock lectures, he recounts a conversation he had with David Crosby after his conversion:
Todd: “Do they still bring the master [recording] to the Temple…and conjure demons into the master? Is the purpose of rock music still to use witchcraft, cast spells…?”
Crosby: “Of course. You know that, Lance.”
The only moderately successful Zodiac Productions operating in the U.S. during the early ’70s was a film company that produced one film (a ’74 gay porno called The Portrait of Dorian Gay – NSFW) and several episodes of the ’60s variety show The Hollywood Palace. It did not have a music division.
To explain why no one recognized this mammoth media conglom, Todd said Zodiac was forced to change its name because of the negative publicity he brought to it. He did not divulge the new name.
World Domination and Stuff
In ’72, the Grand Druid Council received a diplomatic pouch from headquarters in London, containing an eight-year plan for world domination (culminating in December 1980). It involved economic breakdown, a military strike force comprised partly of prisoners, the execution of millions, and a Third World War that would spare only Jerusalem.
Around the same time, a letter from Satanic HQ announced the discovery of a man believed to be Lucifer’s son. He would serve as a false messiah to lead the masses astray. Todd later identified this Antichrist as fellow Baptist Jimmy Carter.
It was shortly after this that Todd was supposedly saved at a Pentacostal church service. Sometimes he placed this event in California, sometimes it occurred in Texas.
After his conversion and defection in ’73, the Satanists made many attempts on Todd’s life. This campaign of terror echoes the assassination attempts described by Mike Warnke and his first wife, and was equally unsuccessful. How is that these international Satanists can pull off world wars, but they can’t bump off two regular dudes?
Todd wouldn’t have been hard to find. He was working at a Pheonix, Arizona coffeehouse run by Pentecostal Ken Long, a local leader of the Jesus movement.
Todd’s extant lectures overflow with such stupefyingly retarded bullshit. Just a few examples:
- Ayn Rand fans are Communists. Atlas Shrugged was commissioned by Philippe Rothschild (Rand’s lover) as a blueprint for the destruction of the U.S. and the Communist/Illuminati takeover of the world. Rand inserted racy passages in the book to keep Christians away from it. Todd doesn’t explain why Rothschild didn’t just write it himself. (One wonders, too, why the Satanists concocted an eight-year plan in the ’70s if Rand had already produced a step-by-step instruction manual for global domination back in ’57. I guess the Illuminati doesn’t mind busywork. Also, Rand’s hinky sex life has been exhaustively documented – I mean, seriously, TMI – and it didn’t involve any Rothschilds.)
- JFK faked his death. Or not. As “personal warlock” to the Kennedys, Todd met with JFK many times in the early ’70s. He never went into detail about this. In his later talks, Todd ignored or forgot this. He said JFK was assassinated in November 1963 because he had been born again and The Powers That Be couldn’t tolerate that (a Catholic president was okay because Catholicism and witchcraft are virtually identical, according to Todd).
- Epilepsy is a medical condition, but the seizures are caused by demonic possession and/or medication. Todd actually instructed his epileptic listeners not to take their medication.
- The supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows was based on the history of the Collins family. Todd was asked to bring a family diary to Hollywood, all expenses paid, one summer. He spent several months as a consultant to the writers while the series was being developed. I’ve never seen Dark Shadows, but my mother tells me most of the main characters were vampires and werewolves rather than witches, and there wasn’t any explicit occult content other than maybe a few black candles. Episode synopses at Wikipedia indicate the plot elements were culled from classic Gothic lit and popular novels.
- Most of the cast of the Star Wars movies were gay men who had slept with the producers, culled from The Young and the Restless. The Y&R cast contained so many witches that Todd referred to it as an “occult soap opera”. But none of the primary Star Wars actors were ever in it. Mark Hamill was on General Hospital. Harrison Ford was never on a soap at all. Nor was Alec Guinness. James Earl Jones was on The Guiding Light and As the World Turns. Billy Dee Williams was on The Guiding Light; even though he still does a lot of soap work, he has never been on Y&R (interestingly, though, Ford and Williams appeared in some of the same films and TV shows: The Conversation, The F.B.I., and The Mod Squad). All of these men had considerable acting ability and would certainly not have to sleep with any producers to get work. Aside from Guinness, who was reportedly bi, not one of them appears to be gay. Maybe the Modal Nodes were gay warlocks?
- Actress Cindy Williams (Laverne and Shirley) and her boyfriend started a witch cult. I suspect Todd singled out Williams because she and Penny Marshall co-wrote a screenplay about the Salem witch trials, Paper Hands. She was also in The Conversation, the tale of a man who lets paranoia and his imagination get the better of him. Hmm.
- Most Israeli license plates contain the number 666. Todd was taking a big risk with this one. Any listener who had traveled to Israel would know he was full of it.
- The Illuminati gave him $8 million to start the Christian record label Marantha Records, to corrupt Christian youth via Satanic rock music. Marantha would later produce such hardcore Satanic albums as Psalty’s Funtastic Praise Party.
- The Dunwich Horror, starring Sandra Dee, was the most accurate representation of witchcraft on film. LOL. I’ve seen this movie, and about the only thing it accurately represents is Grade B cheese.
Move the f*** over, Burzum…
continued from Part I
The Big Time
In August 1973, Todd married Sharon Garver. He was preaching and performing faith healings on the road, having been fired from the Christian coffeehouse for allegedly hitting on teenage girls.
This was the year that Todd first snagged the attention of Christians outside Arizona by giving his dramatic testimony on a Christian TV program. He announced he had been the “personal warlock” of the Kennedy clan, that JFK had faked his death, and that he had just returned from visiting JFK on his yacht. He revealed that many fundamentalist churches had been infiltrated by Satanists. For instance, Jerry Falwell had been “bought” with a check for $50 million. He described watching George McGovern stab a young girl to death in a Satanic ritual sacrifice. He claimed his wife had been seduced into witchcraft as a teen, and he rescued her.
Pastor Doug Clark heard Todd’s story and invited him to appear on his Amazing Prophecies TV show. Todd became an overnight sensation among charismatics in southern California. He and Sharon promptly vacated Arizona for Santa Ana, Doug Clark’s headquarters. They hosted weekly Bible studies in their home, and Todd appeared at several of Clark’s Amazing Prophecy rallies.
Clark and leaders at Melodyland Christian Center soon heard reports that Todd was hitting on teenage girls who attended these Bible study sessions. Todd angrily denied the allegations, and thereafter named Melodyland as part of the Illuminati conspiracy.
Clark decided John Todd wasn’t such a credit to his ministry, after all, and denounced him on his TV show.
His ties to Doug Clark severed, Todd moved to his wife’s hometown of San Antonio and promptly impregnated her teen sister. In ’74, the couple split. Todd north went to Dayton, Ohio, and found a third wife, Sheila Spoonmore. He decided to become a witch for real – whether he had ever been one before is debatable – and with his wife opened an occult bookstore called The Witches Caldron [sic]. The couple gave courses on witchcraft. Once again, there were complaints from teen girls.
Todd Meets the Crusaders
Todd’s drivel intrigued Jack Chick, the guy who produces all those wacky rectangular pamphlets you see in Christians’ bathrooms. Chick immediately realized that Todd would make a nice shiny new cog for his misinformation machine, and enlisted him to provide “inside information” for several anti-occult tracts.
Todd collaborated with Chick at the very same time that he was running an occult bookstore and persuading teen “witches” to disrobe for “ceremonies”.
The first Chick booklet based on Todd’s information was The Broken Cross (1974). Todd is described in the intro as an “ex-grand Druid priest”.
In the comic, a 14-year-old hippie girl leaves home to escape her Christian parents. Hitchhiking, she is picked up by a young couple in a van. She rejoices in her newfound freedom, not realizing that two Satanists are hiding in the back of the van, ready to drug her unconscious. She is taken to a Satanic ceremony and ritually sacrificed on an altar. We’re told that such murders occur eight times per year in every Satanic coven.
Chick’s equivalent of comic book superheroes, The Crusaders, show up to investigate. They uncover the cult, which turns out to include nearly every prominent citizen of the town, even the local pastor and an elderly librarian. The Satanists practice cannibalism, kill dogs, and spy on non-Satanists. One of their symbols is the peace symbol – a broken, upside-down cross.
Chick states that Wicca, a form of devil worship involving child sacrifice, began during the Roman Empire. Wicca was later absorbed by the Illuminati, also known as Moriah. This organization bankrolled the production of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar to undermine Christ.
A witch named Jody cheerfully informs the Crusaders that Lucifer is the power behind both white and black witchcraft. “Satan is one neat dude…I really crave the power!” The Crusaders easily convert Jody, and she is abducted by the Satanists for betraying them. Jim saves her seconds before she is sacrificed. Confronted by a Christian, the Satanists begin vomiting uncontrollably.
Like all the Crusader comics, The Broken Cross is an insane mishmash of cut-and-paste moralizing, scripture, and occult misinfo. It also borders on the homoerotic; Jim and Tim are exceptionally buff and like to take off their shirts for no apparent reason. Methinks the man doth protest too much.
The Broken Cross was followed by Spellbound?, a screed against rock music. According to Todd and Chick, all rock has “ancient Druid origins”.
In this comic, Jim the Crusader’s VW is nearly forced off the road by a rock musician named Bobby Dallas. Dallas is injured in the resultant crash, and Jim saves his life. Grateful, Dallas later invites Jim to a party full of his creepy friends. We’re told that the ankh necklace worn by one partier is a symbol of Satan worship, signifying that the wearer has lost his virginity and participates in orgies (a note at the bottom of the page adds that it won’t be necessary to burn the book, as witches only use 3-D charms for casting spells).
A member of the cult from The Broken Cross sees Jim trying to convert Dallas. The cult immediately murders Dallas to prevent him from “blowing their cover”.
John Todd himself makes an appearance, meeting with Jim and Tim to educate them about the occult. They’re told his family practiced Druidism for seven centuries.
Todd explains that Druids sacrificed men to their god Kernos with “elfin fire”, accompanied by the music of flutes, tambourines, and drums made of human skin. Each Halloween, they would go door to door demanding a human sacrifice (usually a young woman). If the sacrifice pleased them, they left a jack-o’-lantern lit by a candle made with human fat to protect the house’s residents from demons. Such ritual murders still take place in the U.S. every Halloween, Todd tells us. And the hypnotic beat of Druid drummers is the same beat used in rock music. The melodies are lifted from “Druid manuscripts”. For instance, the Beatles used this Pagan rhythm to draw America’s youth into Eastern religions, opening the “flood gates to witchcraft.”
All of this is pure bunk. There was no “Kernos” in Druidism. Trick-or-treating did not originate with the Druids. Druids didn’t have any written literature, so rock music can’t be based on ancient Druid manuscripts. They did not make their drums with human flesh. The magical “elfin fire” is make-believe. Eastern religions and Paganism are very different things.
If Todd’s teachings about the Druid origin of rock were actually correct, then Celtic music would be more of a threat to society than rock and roll!
Todd then delivers a talk to a church congregation, telling them he once had 65,000 witches under his command. Their goal was to “destroy Bible believing churches and make witchcraft our nation’s religion.” He warns that Christians cannot wield the full power of Christ if they possess tarot cards, regular playing cards, Dungeons and Dragons, “occult” jewelry, country music, romance novels, or rock music. Such things must be burned. He also warns against Freemasonry, saying no Christian has a right to belong to a secretive organization (this is bizarre, as Christianity itself has been an underground movement in various times and places). Not only is Masonry a part of the Illuminati, but Albert Pike (“the pope of Freemasonry”) admitted that Lucifer was his god. This, of course, is part of the ludicrous Taxil hoax that attempted to smear Masons in the late 19th century.
As a producer with Z Productions, Todd learned that all rock songs contain coded incantations. There follows a graphic representation of how demons are summoned into every master recording.
Todd also declares, “Every Bible believing pastor is on a death list by Satan’s crowd!”
A deacon’s daughter named Penny, hearing Todd, decides to join in the record burning ceremony he has planned for the church. The local media, under the direction of a Satanist named Isaac (presumably Todd’s nemesis, Isaac Bonewits, who we’ll see in the next section), portrays the bonfire as KKK-like activity.
Unbeknownst to Todd, the Satanists are following him, planning to assassinate him at the first opportunity. They shoot at him as he drives away from the church, but God presses Jim and Tim to follow him and capture the two Satanists. Then a cop – clearly in league with the Satanists – lets them go.
The Broken Cross and Spellbound? portray all Satanists, witches, and Pagans as murderous thugs who must be opposed by Christians. Chick also implied that most policemen, some media outlets, and many church leaders are part of the Satanic plot to destroy Christianity.
Chick continued to believe and defend Todd long after more reasonable Christians had washed their hands of him. He was later bamboozled by another “former Illuminati member” and “ex-witch”, Bill Schnoebelen, and by the Satanic ritual abuse allegations of a woman calling herself Rebecca Brown. We’ll see both of them later in this series.
In ’76, a 16-year-old girl told Dayton police what was going on in Todd’s little coven. She said Todd forced her to have oral sex during a nude initiation rite.
Todd asked for help from Gavin Frost, head of the National Church and School of Wicca, and prominent Druid Isaac Bonewits. He said he was being unjustly persecuted by Ohio authorities because he was a witch. After investigating, Frost and Bonewits concluded otherwise; they concurred with the cops that Todd was probably using his “church” as a cover for sexual misconduct.
He ultimately pled guilty to contributing to the unruliness of a minor and served two months of a six-month sentence in county jail before Chick and a lawyer secured an early medical release for him (he was having seizures). He received five years’ probation, which he immediately violated by returning to Arizona. The Pentacostal preacher Ken Long once again found a job for him, working as a cook.
Todd admitted to practicing witchcraft in Ohio, but was able to turn it to his advantage by declaring he and his wife had backslid and were now returning to the body of Christ. Satan had lost his minion again. Soon, Todd was back to preaching.
Don’t Think, Just Panic
Todd hit his peak of popularity in the late ’70s. By 1978 he and Sheila had three children.
They lived in Canoga Park, California and attended an independent Baptist church.
In January 1978 Tom Berry, pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland, arranged for Todd to go on a speaking tour. His tales astonished and unnerved Eastern churchgoers. Tape cassettes of his talk were passed around in evangelical circles, and he even managed to snag mainstream media attention. Donations poured in for a rehab centre for ex-witches that he others planned to establish. Sound familiar? Warnke spoke of opening one just like it, but never got around to doing it. Neither did Todd.
His audiences were quite large. One appearance in Indiana drew 1000 listeners.
During this series of talks, Todd talked a lot about the endtimes and the need for Christians to create armed compounds that could withstand onslaughts from Communists, the military, and other enemies of the faith. He said the U.S. government would soon be compiling lists of church members so that Christians could be rounded up and executed when the shit came down. There would also be a government-instigated “Helter Skelter” of riots and violence. The Illuminati takeover of the U.S. would begin in just one year, so time was of the essence.
He warned Christians not to trust prominent Christians. Melodyland, the PTL, Jerry Falwell, The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. They were all part of the Satanic conspiracy.
These revelations were received with a mixture of horror and gratitude. There’s no indication that any of the Eastern churches actually took his advice and established fortresses, though.
One has to wonder if Todd harbored dreams of starting his own cult. He had some of the vital ingredients: Plans for an armed compound, a desire to isolate people from their trusted leaders, a knack for scaring the hell out of believers, and a seemingly unslakable lust for pubescent girls.
Back in California in April ’78, it all hit the fan. Todd’s pastor, Roland Rasmussen, learned from a church member that Todd had been teaching witchcraft in Ohio as recently as ’76. Todd was booted from the church.
But Tom Berry and numerous other Eastern pastors still supported him. He began a second speaking tour that summer.
This time, the reaction was not as positive. Clifford Wicks, pastor of Grace Brethren Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania, canceled Todd’s four-speech engagement after three speeches because he was disturbed by his parishioners’ response to the message. Several of them told Wicks they planned to murder their own children rather than see them taken prisoner by the Illuminati.
Not surprisingly, a few fringe religious groups were receptive to Todd’s teachings.
The Family (formerly known as the Children of God), an international church headed by David “Moses” Berg, degenerated into organized sexual abuse of children in the ’70s after Berg convinced some followers it was natural and healthy for kids to have sexual relations with their parents and caregivers. Years later his own son, Ricky Rodriguez (known as “Davidito“), would kill one of the nannies who molested him as a child.
Berg found Todd’s diatribes fascinating, and The Family International published a transcript of one of his lectures, “The Illuminati and Witchcraft”, for distribution to Family members.
Another group that appreciated Todd was a violent white supremacist organization called The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). They also published “The Illuminati and Witchcraft”.
The CSA ran a compound in Missouri that was the very model of what Todd had been advocating. It boasted an armed perimeter, a training area for urban warfare drills, and an array of automatic weaponry (much of it stolen). In 1985, the group’s founder and several of its leaders were convicted of illegal firearm possession.
The group kept a list of possible targets for assassination, including elected officials. One member was executed for killing a State Trooper and a pawn shop owner.
In January 1979, Todd announced he was through with preaching. His message just wasn’t sinking in with American Christians, he said, and it was time for him to retreat to an undisclosed location where the Satanists couldn’t find him.
This move was probably calculated to avoid the kerfuffle that would have erupted around him when his predicted Illuminati takeover didn’t actually happen.
From their new home in Montana, the Todds cranked out alarmist newsletters about the endtimes preparations Christians must make; buy gold, stockpile food and ammo, go into hiding. Todd now claimed he was collecting donations for an armed survivalist compound. He said he would accept guns, cattle, dehydrated food, and anything else people could spare. This compound, just like the witch rehab centre, never materialized.
The couple subsequently lived in Seattle.
In early ’79, a few Christian publications, including Christianity Today, printed damning stories about Todd.
Ironically, the single critical book published about Todd, The Todd Phenomenon (1979) by Darryl E. Hicks and David A. Lewis, contained an intro by Mike Warnke (pot, meet kettle…).
These exposés demolished whatever vestige of credibility Todd still had among mainstream Christians, and he never again made a decent living from preaching. His following dwindled to small groups Christian Patriots, survivalists, and Millenarianists.
But he certainly didn’t stop banging the anti-occult In 1980, he authored a comic book titled The Illuminati and Witchcraft. Jacob Sailor, the artist, also illustrated some of the Mo Letters for The Children of God.
The Road to Ruby Ridge
Todd’s next known location was Cedar Falls, Iowa. In 1983 he was invited to speak at a Holiday Inn there by a young couple who regularly listened to his audiotapes.
Since marrying in 1974, Randy and Vicki Weaver had become increasingly religious. By 1983 they were approaching religious mania. Both believed the world would end soon. First there would be a period of violent persecution, initiated by a Satanic government coalition of Jews and non-Christians. Sometimes they referred to the enemy as ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government).
Todd’s background may have impressed Randy Weaver; he, too, had been a Greet Beret.
The Weavers used cash only, because Todd said credit cards carried the Mark of the Beast. They stopped watching TV because Todd said all evangelists other than himself couldn’t be trusted. They believed the government wanted to round up and exterminate Christians because that’s what Todd said (strangely, though, Vicki remained a fan of Ayn Rand)
Vicki also received instructions from God while soaking in the tub every night, and she and Randy both had “visions” of a hilltop fortress.
As recounted in Jess Walter’s 1996 about the Weavers, Every Knee Shall Bow, neighbors were unsettled, but probably not surprised, to see John Todd pacing the living room of the Weavers’ comfortable ranch-style house in Cedar Falls, ranting about government conspiracies whilst gripping a handgun.
Not long after this, in the summer of ’84, the Weavers sold their home and headed west with a cache of supplies, firearms, and ammo. They didn’t have a destination in mind. God would lead them wherever they needed to be to wait out the Tribulation.
On September 6, they found a thickly wooded plot of land atop Ruby Ridge in the panhandle of northern Idaho.
Sometime in the mid-’80s, Todd moved to Columbia, South Carolina. He worked construction, did carpentry, and taught karate to youngsters.
In May 1987, Todd was charged with raping a grad student at the University of South Carolina. I will not give the woman’s name here, to protect her privacy.
Later, molestation charges related to two of his karate students were added. He served the next 16 years of his life in prison.
In an audio recording made in 1991, Todd explained how he was framed by Strom Thurmond, who wanted to get his hands on his address books and his Christian material. Specifically, Thurmond and cohorts wanted to find the locations of safe houses used by a Christian underground that hid Christians accused of abusing their children. Also, Thurmond was furious that Todd had outed him as a Mason.
He hints that he was lured to South Carolina by Christians just so he could be framed. His lawyers were in on the plot, so Todd urged listeners to donate money to his defence fund.
After his conviction, an FBI agent and the head of Reagan’s Secret Service bodyguards visited him in prison and pressured him to give up the names of Christians in hiding (in exchange for what, I wonder? He had already been sentenced, so there wasn’t much the feds could offer him). Todd refused.
Todd warns all Christians that they, too, can be framed for crimes they didn’t commit. After all, They own the media and law enforcement. What’s more, U.S. concentration camps are standing at the ready to hold huge numbers of Christians.
Remember, this recording was made in ’91. In the 20 years since then, do you know a single Christian who has been interned in a U.S. concentration camp?
Now Todd says he was part of the CIA’s Pheonix Program during Vietnam, and his military records were sealed for that reason. As we saw in Part I, these records were freely available, and they clearly show that Todd did not serve in Vietnam.
Fritz Springmeier and the 13 Bloodlines
Christian preacher and Illuminati “expert” Fritz Springmeier, who was released from prison just last month (he served 7 years of a 9-year sentence for armed bank robbery), is Todd’s #2 fan (Jack Chick being #1). In his book Bloodlines of the Illuminati, he identified the Collins clan as one of the “13 bloodlines of the Illuminati” and included a jailhouse letter written by Todd.
The Collins family history, as chronicled by Springmeier, is replete with Satanic atrocities. The Collinses possess more occult power than any other Illuminati’s family, including the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Springmeier cites the testimony of an unnamed ex-Illuminati member (like Todd, a Christian convert) who claimed a Collins woman was the “Grande Mother” of the Illuminati’s Grand Council of 13 back in the ’50s. This council possessed invaluable arcane knowledge, like the location of the Ark of the Covenant, and practiced a bizarre form of ritual sacrifice in which a child was killed for each new Illuminati initiate.
As these meetings supposedly occurred twice a year, with up to seven initiates per meeting, it’s remarkable that no one noticed the rashes of missing children.
Ironically, the details of this unsourced tale directly contradict John Todd’s testimony. For instance, this person stated that the Antichrist had not yet been born in 1955, while Todd said Jimmy Carter was the Antichrist. He also tells us the Todd family split off from the Collins clan before the Civil War, while Todd himself claimed he was born as Lance Collins.
Springmeier names one of the Grande Mother’s sons as Tom Collins, who later converted to Christianity and went on speaking tours to educate coreligionists about the Illuminati. He was shot to death in a grocery store parking lot as a warning to other whistleblowers. Once again, we must ask why the Illuminati was unable to assassinate John Todd, if another defector from the very same family was so easily eliminated.
I can find no trace of this Tom, but the Wikipedia entry for Tom Collins the drink is quite interesting. In 1874, “Tom Collins” was a running gag among pranksters. They convinced people that a mysterious man named Tom Collins was badmouthing them, and reported sightings of the gossipy stranger to credulous newspaper reporters.
At any rate, we have no reason to believe that Tom Collins and John were from the same family. Springmeier’s M.O. is to tick off lists of prominent people with the same last name, without bothering to ascertain if they are actually related to one another. Then he links them to the Illuminati by the most tenuous connections. For example, reporter Robert Collins is implicated simply because the Illuminati “control the press”. Springmeier provides no evidence that the Illuminati does, in fact, control the press. Likewise, he ties serial killer Ted Bundy to the Bundy/McBundy families and tells us his sadistic sociopathic condition is quite typical of Illuminati members, even though Bundy’s name came from a working class stepfather.
Most bizarrely, Springmeier states that the Salem witch trials were “instigated by the Collins family to destroy Christians”. His evidence? Some Collinses became Putnams during the Civil War era. Somehow, this means that the Putnams of Massachusetts (central to the Salem witch hunt) were already related to the Collins clan nearly two centuries earlier. Huh?
Like Jack Chick and John Todd, Springmeier classed essentially all occultists and Freemasons as profoundly secretive, extremely dangerous people. They all worship the Devil, they all abduct and ritually sacrifice children, and they all commit every manner of crime against decent, God-fearing Americans such as Todd (the rapist) and Springmeier (the bank robber).
In an early edition of his book, Springmeier stated that Todd was released from prison in 1994. An Illuminati-owned helicopter picked him up at the prison, and he was never seen again – presumably murdered by Them. Springmeier later removed this erroneous information, but continued to assert that Todd was framed.
The belief that Todd was framed on the rape charges persists today among his fans. “James in Japan”, who maintains an extensive website about Todd and other Christian conspiranoids, actually believes that Todd was murdered by the Illuminati and replaced by a prisoner who looked and behaved just like him.
Release and Death
Todd was actually released from prison in 2004. He was then committed to the Behavioral Disorder Unit run by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
Under the name “Kris Kollyns”, he filed a lawsuit against numerous employees of this department, alleging he was being held in violation of his Constitutional rights. Before the lawsuit was resolved, he died in the BDU on November 10, 2007.
Sadly, his messed-up legacy of pathological falsehood lives on in audio recordings, Chick pamphlets, and the minds of many Christian conspiracy theorists.
In January 1972, televangelist Morris Cerullo introduced a young man named Mike Warnke to the evangelical Christian community. Cerullo had a rare specimen, indeed: A real, live former Satanist who had found Jesus and wanted to share his testimony with the world. And he had the ability to do it. Warnke possessed native speaking ability and natural charm, enrapturing revival crowds with no visible effort. And to top it all off, he was funny. Warnke’s blend of true confession, Christian stand-up, and born again sermonizing was a winning combination.
Morris Cerullo “cures” 4-year-old Natalia Barned of cancer in 1992
So winning that by 1973, Warnke had broken away from Cerullo to form his own Alpha and Omega Outreach ministry and published his autobiography (co-written Les Jones and David Balsiger of Noah’s Ark infamy), The Satan Seller. It pushed Warnke into the national Christian spotlight, winning him speaking engagements at some of the nation’s most popular evangelical venues.
With his niche firmly established, Warnke enrolled at Trinity Bible College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1975, his first Christian comedy album (Alive!) cemented his fame. Warnke quickly became the best-selling Christian comedian of all time.
Despite his chequered past, Warnke seemed stable and well-prepared for ministry. He was a Vietnam vet married to his college sweetheart, the former Sue Studer. The Warnkes had two young sons. Fellow Christians were amazed at how far Mike had come in such a short time. Truly, this was God’s hand at work.
Less than ten years earlier, Mike Warnke had been high priest in a violent Satanic cult, a drug dealer, and an addict. He viciously dominated and abused the women in his life, cut himself off from his family, and led his followers into increasingly demented behaviour. The way Mike describes himself on Alive!, he was a ruthless gangsta junkie – as badass as 50 Cent, looking worse than Sick Boy from Trainspotting:
“I’d had hepatitis four times from shooting up with dirty needles. I had scabs all over my face from shooting up crystal. I was a speed freak. I weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. My skin had turned yellow. My hair was falling out. My teeth were rotting out of my head. I’d been pistol-whipped five or six times. My jaw had been broken. My nose had been almost ripped off. I had a bullet hole in my right leg. Two bullet holes in my left leg.”
His childhood, while not as tragic as Doreen Irvine’s, had been rough. Born in 1946, he grew up in Coffee County, Tennessee, son of a truckstop owner called Whitey and his fifth wife. Whitey sold drugs and was mixed up with gangsters; he carried a tommy gun in his car, which was full of bullet holes from deals gone bad. He had affairs with many young women, including the teenage waitress who became his sixth wife after Mike’s mother died in 1955.
For the next three years, Mike was at the mercy of a stepmother who whipped him with a dog leash at every opportunity.
Whitey died when Mike was 11. The orphaned boy lived for a short time with his mother’s devoutly Christian sisters, and their influence stayed with him, just as Doreen Irvine’s Sunday school teachers planted the seeds of salvation in her youth. Then he was sent to California, to live with half-sister Shirley Schrader, her husband, and their son. The Schraders raised Mike as their own child, bringing him up Catholic in the tight-knit community of Crestline.
Warnke’s teen years were typical for a Catholic California boy in the ’60s: Dances, parties, cruising with the guys. He never got into serious trouble, but he loved to tell tall tales and act out weird jokes. A favourite trick was to go into a restaurant with one of his pals and pretend he was a Russian who couldn’t speak much English. The friend would “translate” for him. Later, at a college coffeehouse, he pretended to be an Englishman for eight months. In The Satan Seller, he boasts repeatedly that he could talk his way out of anything.
After graduating from Rim of the World High School in 1965, Warnke enrolled at a junior college, San Bernadino Valley College. It was here, on a grassy campus full of mission-style buildings, that he went to the dark side. He had already abandoned the church, having been kicked out of Bible study for asking too many questions.
College gave him the opportunity to break away entirely. He severed contact with this family in Crestline, grew his hair long, and bought outrageous clothes that made him stand out on campus. He became a kind of guru of the quad, dispensing wisdom to like-minded freshmen. He hung around campus all the time even after flunking out of all his classes.
Though he doesn’t give us many time markers, we know that everything Warnke experienced at college occurred between his enrollment in the fall of ’65 and his enlistement in the Navy in the summer of ’66. Keep that in mind.
In The Satan Seller, Warnke tells us he was already an alcholic by the age of 18. At college, a clean-cut fellow student he calls “Dean Armstrong” offered him some pot to counteract the sour stomach and blackouts that resulted from his continuous heavy drinking. Dependence on pot led to a dependence on speed, also supplied by Dean. He also dabbled heavily in peyote, mescaline, and LSD supplied as part of a government-funded research experiment. Then Dean suggested he try something even stronger. He directed Warnke to a gathering held at a posh house in the hills; beautiful hippies smoking pot, talking religion and philosophy before having a free-love orgy.
As Mike realized after attending several such gatherings, these people were Satanists or witches (just like Doreen Irvine, Warnke uses the terms interchangeably). The sex parties were just a lure to bring selected people into the coven.
His introduction to the coven was extremely gradual, unlike the sudden initiation described by Irvine. Though time markers are few and far between, Warnke gives us the impression that a significant amount of time passed before he was allowed to proceed to the “second level”. In the meantime, he became a big-time drug smuggler and dealer for Dean Armstrong. He tells us the coven was handling a “large percentage” of the drug traffic for the Inland Empire at that time.
The “secondary meetings” consisted of rituals that were blasphemous but surprisingly tame. Initiates learned simple witchcraft. Warnke estimates there were “several hundred” regional coven members at this, from all walks of life. There were even a few ministers and priests.
Warnke itched to explore the deeper mysteries of the group, so he obediently served as Dean’s drug gofer and message boy until he was admitted to the “third stage”. This was the inner sanctum, the core group of real Satanists. Dean revealed that he was one of the leaders, a “Master Counselor” (there were three Master Counselors at a time, which is rather bizarre).
Warnke’s first “third stage” meeting was a Black Mass held in a barn near Redlands. A nude girl laid on an altar consisting of a granite slab atop two sawhorses while the three Master Counselors desecrated the sacraments, uttered blasphemies, and read from the Satanic bible, which Warnke calls The Great Mother. It was apparently far less weighy than the massive Book of Satan used by Doreen Irvine’s cult, because Dean was able to rest it on the naked altar-girl’s stomach without crushing her. You’ll notice, in the course of this series, that the world-wide church of Satan doesn’t seem to have standardized scripture. At all. Each ex-Satanist describes different books, different magical systems, and different modes of worship. Orgies are the only consistent feature. You’d think that a secretive cult angling for world domination would be slightly more organized than this.
At the end of the Black Mass, the Satanists cast curses on enemies (i.e., ex-members who were telling people about the coven and Christians who were preaching and praying against Satanism). Warnke was so impressed with this that he asked to be initiated as soon as possible. Dean told him he could join the coven at the next full moon, three weeks later.
We now see the darker side of Warnke. Up to this point, he’s just a speed freak curious about Satanism. After the third meeting, he’s kind of a monster. He admits to holding his girlfriend captive in his apartment for a week, using her as his “whipping girl”, then pushing her out on the street for no reason.
At his initiation, also held in the barn, Mike knelt naked in the center of a circle and received a new Satanic name, Judas. He was “baptized” with holy water mixed with urine. He was given a black robe, a hood resembling those worn by Eastern Orthodox priests, a silver ring to be worn only for “Satanic business”, and a necklace bearing his zodiac sign. This ceremony bears little resemblance to Doreen Irvine’s initiation ritual, which involved drinking the blood of a sacrificed rooster. Instead of signing a parchment, Warnke signed his name (in his own blood) within a large leather-bound book. Some of the names already inscribed in it appeared in green ink, and Dean explained that the blood magically turned green as soon as someone betrayed Satan.
This group called itself The Brotherhood.
To his credit, Warnke tells us much more about the beliefs and attitudes of Satanic witches than Doreen Irvine did. He informs us that Satanists believe in God, but reject God in favour of the thrills and short-term benefits Satan can provide. They have elaborate rituals and spells. They don’t just burn Bibles, like Irvine’s “black witches”. Nor does Warnke claim to have superpowers like those Irvine developed; he can’t levitate, kill birds with his mind, or make himself invisible.
But Warnke doesn’t get too specific about the doings of his cult. He doesn’t reveal any of the contents of The Great Mother, doesn’t provide real names, and gives only vague descriptions of meeting places.
Mike learned a lot about Satanic witchcraft in a very short time. First, a female witch revealed to Warnke that the powers of spells, curses, and potions came from demons. These demons had been pressed into service by their master, Satan, and performed their tasks reluctantly. So if any rule was broken or any mistakes made, the demon could lash out violently against you. An “enraged demon” had clawed her forehead once, leaving a nasty scar. Later, he learned that two Satanists had been crushed to death by an invisible force because they carelessly stepped on the wrong part of the circle during a ceremony.
Next, Dean made it clear that he was expected to go out and recruit new members. In stages, he would lure them to a female witch’s apartment for sex, then offer drugs, then ease them into witchcraft. Dean supplied him with a fake ID so that he could cruise bars for “marks”. Mark brought 1000 people into the Brotherhood in this manner, raising regional membership to 1500. He repeats this number at least four times in the book.
At some point, Dean told Mike that the “big guys” were giving him a big promotion, and Mike would be taking his place as a Master Counselor.
One week later, again on the night of a full moon, he was initiated into his new role. He became the “Master of Ritual” (the other two counselors were known as the Keeper of the Seal and the Keeper of the Books). Perks of Mike’s new job included free rent, free groceries, a chauffeur, unlimited drugs and alcohol, and two pretty “roommates” who submissively catered to his every whim. According to Warnke these two young women were considered “slaves, or menials, or whatever”, and were “just there for show and for my pleasure”. But they also performed secretarial tasks, did all the cooking and cleaning and entertaining, and prepared his snacks and his drugs.
At meetings, Warnke intoned certain chants while he “exorcised” ritual knives with belladonna-laced incense, outlined a pentagram on the floor with the tip of a sword, and mock-disemboweled the naked girl on the altar. At some point he would summon a demon to do the bidding of the coven (the pentagram had to be outlined perfectly, because it magically “caged” the demon; if there was even the slightest break in the pentagram, the demon could escape and do serious damage).
After this was done, Satanists could step forward with petitions to curse their enemies.
Warnke introduced two innovations into meetings: Blood-drinking and host desecration. These things had never been done by the coven, and Warnke says he took “sadistic pleasure” in watching the female witches nervously take their first sips of blood.
From this point in his narrative, Warnke begins to hint that the “fourth step” in the Satanic hierarchy is the Illuminati. The people at this level were well-dressed professionals, almost aristocratic in bearing. Strangely, Warnke never asked his fellow Satanists about the fourth level. He seemed content to let the upper echelons remain shrouded in mystery until he was considered worthy to join their ranks.
Perhaps he was satisfied with the power he wielded. Warnke ritually summoned demons at each Satanic ceremony, and the demons did his bidding. He tells us demons are capable of possessing people and driving them to insanity and suicide. They can cause disease and impede spiritual growth.
One night, to impress a childhood pal who was visiting, Warnke summoned a demon and ordered it to burn down a bar. A short time later, the building was ablaze.
Later, the coven cursed the two young daughters of a Valley College professor who had spoken dismissively of witchcraft, and caused an ex-member to have a near-fatal car accident.
Impressed with his performance as a Master Counselor, some fourth-stagers sent Warnke to a gathering of high-level witches organized by Bridget Bishop of Salem, Massachusetts – a descendant of the first witch executed during the Salem witch trials. (Some of Bishop’s descendants do still live in the area, and a decade ago several of them called for Bridget’s full exoneration. A “Bridget” was not among them. According to Warnke, Bridget Bishop was a stunningly beautiful young woman who lived in a large old house stuffed with antiques.)
At this witch convention, the main topic was organization. We learn that the U.S. Satanic witch movement has a corporate-style structure and uses tactics culled from big business and the military to keep everything running smoothly.
Hearing this, Warnke had his New World Order revelation. He suddenly realized there could be a fifth stage controlling everything, not just Satanism but world events.
“A world-wide, super secret control group with perhaps as few as a very dozen at the top…with key men controlling governments, economies, armies, food supplies…pulling the strings on every major international event…and not just now, but for generations, centuries, since the beginning of civilization…manipulating men by their egos and their appetites, rewarding and depriving, enraging and pacifying, raising up first one side and then the other, maintaining a balance of frustration, bitterness, and despair?” (p. 93, ellipses in original)
He heard other attendees talking about the demons that had controlled the worst dictators of history: Nero, Hitler, Stalin. A light went on in his head, showing him that demonically inspired Satanists and their human puppets were the force beyong international finance, politics, war, industry, and everything else.
“I laughed, a little hysterically, but the light show wouldn’t shut off. So that was how it was done! The global-conspiracy buffs were right, after all. Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Sirhan B. Sirhan – they were the pawns of a much bigger plot.“
Keep in mind that Warnke was supposedly having this revelation in 1965 or ’66. Ray and Sirhan were nonentities.
He also realized that he and all the other Satanists were just pawns in Satan’s campaign of jealousy and hatred, and that Satan probably hated humans just as much as he despised the God who had denied him his rightful place in heaven.
It didn’t bother him too much. He just got on with his Satanic business. He attended another witchcraft convention in New York, where he learned that some Satanists were sacrificing their fingers (mentioned repeatedly by Doreen Irvine) and eating human flesh.
Warnke introduced both practices to his coven, and added cat sacrifice to the rituals as well. He also suggested that his group collect blood from stray dogs if they couldn’t get enough human volunteers, and he later learned that reports of exsanguinated dogs shot up 500% in the area.
After an occult convention in San Francisco (where he met Anton LaVey), he used a new “formula” during a meeting and inadvertently sent a young woman into a screaming, frothing fit of demonic possession.
In accordance with The Great Mother, he decided it was time to start raping virgins at sabbats. He and three other Satanists convinced a college student named Mary to accompany them to the orange grove where they usually held their rituals, then violently forced her to disrobe and lay on the altar. She was raped by an unspecified number of men before being taken to a doctor affiliated with the coven – someone who wouldn’t talk.
Meanwhile, Warnke’s speed use was spiralling out of control and he was becoming very paranoid. He feared the Mafia, Communists, and every bump in the night. The higher-ups evidently decided he was a liability, so his slave-girls were instructed to give him an overdose of heroin. While he was drifting in and out of consciousness, cult goons removed him from his apartment and dumped him on the sidewalk in front of a hospital. He registered as John Doe and went through agonizing withdrawal for a week.
When he returned to his pad, the slave-girls were gone and most of his Satanic paraphernalia had been removed. He had been ejected from the Brotherhood. He also lost his part-time job at a hamburger stand.
With few choices left, he joined the Navy. Withdrawal made bootcamp a nightmare, but the two Christian men in his unit lovingly tended to him day after day. These guys, Bob and Bill, seemed to be filled with a calm and peace that the others lacked. One day, Warnke’s eye fell on Bill’s Bible. It was open to John, and 3:16 caught his eye. He picked up the book and began reading it in the privacy of a broom closet. He found himself unable to put it down, so he read throughout the night. By dawn, he was saved.
After basic training, Warnke visited his family for the first time since he left Crestline for Valley College. While there, he ran into an old classmate named Sue Studer, another born again Christian. They were soon engaged. He told her all about his Satanic past. Both Sue and Mike claim that Satanists were gunning for Mike at this time; their friend Lorrie narrowly escaped being shot while snooping around a warehouse where the Brotherhood was gathering, and someone fired on Mike’s car from a Cadillac.
Mike himself was a danger to those around him. Still in the grip of demons, he tried to strangle Sue one night. She realized what was happening and ordered the demons to depart in the name of Jesus, which seems like a rather strange reaction to a murder attempt by your fiance.
In 1967 the newlyweds settled in San Diego, where Mike went through training to become a Navy medic. They befriended a pastor who is now a household name: Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind novels. When Warnke told him about the Brotherhood and their efforts to scare him, LaHaye replied, “I’ve been attacked by witches,” and filled him in on the history of the Bavarian Illuminati.
Every Christian who heard Mike’s story was equally supportive and accepting. No one suggested that he turn himself in to the police for abduction and rape. No one advised him to seek psychological help or drug treatment. In fact, church members urged him to become a Sunday school teacher!
Just as Sue learned she was pregnant, Warnke was shipped to Vietnam. In this dismal atmosphere of death and devastation, he soon reverted to drinking and popping pills. His newfound faith in Christ dwindled. Though he was not supposed to be armed, he was, and one day an officer ordered him to execute a suspected Vietnamese spy.
In October ’69, his unit was withdrawn. He returned to California in March of the following year. By this time, he had 3-month-old son, Brendon.
Their Christian friends helped Warnke regain his footing in the faith. He began giving his testimony at Jesus People gatherings in San Diego, Coronado, and La Mesa. Dick Handley introduced him to Anaheim Bulletin writer/photographer David Balsiger, who would become one of his co-authors. Balsiger was also a media director for Morris Cerullo at this time, though Warnke doesn’t mention that. Cerullo and Balsiger had constructed an educational “witchmobile” full of occult paraphernalia, and Cerullo wanted Balsiger’s help in writing a book titled Witchcraft Never Looked Better. In the end, Balsiger and Warnke left Cerullo out of their collaboration (Balsiger assisted Cerullo with his ’73 book The Back Side of Satan).
Balsiger considered himself something of an occult expert, and Warnke donates several pages to his “knowledge”. Among Balsiger’s pearls of wisdom:
– “We discovered that occult practitioners open themselves to mental derangement, criminal tendencies and possible self-destruction or the destruction of other persons…many witches say that only Satanists and black arts practitioners go off the deep end and kill people or commit other crimes, but we researched eleven recent criminal cases…[and] occult practices were directly or indirectly linked to each case.” He doesn’t explain who conducted this research, how it was conducted, how occultism was connected to the cases, or even which cases were examined. We pretty much have to take his word for it.
– “witchcraft is being taught as an official course or as part of a lecture series in public schools all across the country under a variety of course titles, including the ‘Literature of the Supernatural‘.”
– “40 to 50 percent of those undergoing treatment for various neuroses in and out of mental institutions have dabbled in the occult, and it never occurs to most psychiatrists to ask about this, nor would they know how to deal with it if they did ask.” (Balsiger’s wife, Janie, chimes in, “That’s because it’s a spiritual problem, and only a Christian psychiatrist would be able to cope with it successfully.”)
– The peace symbol has a Satanic origin. Also, “it was used on Hitler’s Nazi death notices and as part of the official inscription on the gravestones of Nazi officers of the SS, the leaders of which, incidentally, were Satanists.” (The Morning of the Magicians by Bergier and Pauwels is cited as a source for this factoid)
– “In some parts of the country the occult epidemic is more serious than the drug-abuse scene among young people.”
At the urging of Balsiger and others, Warnke applied for early release from the Navy (he had four years left to serve) so he could launch an anti-occult ministry.
He tries to convince us that Satanism poses a real threat to the average American. On page 195 he writes, “Drug pushers and political revolutionists are using devil worship as a way to rake in millions of dollars, weaken the government, and destroy law enforcement.” When a reporter asked for his opinion on the Manson murders, he said, “Well, the main point here is that lots of crimes are committed as a result of occult involvement, and people should report to the police if they see someone going around wearing human bones as jewelry, or if there’s a group meeting under a full moon.”
What Warnke advocates, basically, is a new witch hunt. He even scoffs at the notion that Medieval and early modern witchhunts were “nothing but mass paranoia”. At a press conference, he urged people to “get uptight” with bookstores that sold occult literature and theatres that screen horror movies.
As soon as his early release was granted – which Warnke portrays as a miracle – he began setting up speaking engagements to share his testimony.
Morris Cerullo, the preacher who got him started on this path, is not mentioned anywhere in The Satan Seller. He and Warnke had a falling-out when Warnke went off on his own, and Warnke reportedly forbade Cerullo from using any part of his life story in his revival sermons. Cerullo did include some of Warnke’s anecdotes in his ’73 book, The Backside of Satan, however, and those tidbits would come back to haunt Warnke.
The story of The Satan Seller concludes with Mike and Sue starting out on their glorious new ministry. At the end of the book is a list of suggestions for combatting the occult: write to congressmen and senators about the occult menace, picket bookstores and movie theatres, and “investigate schools” to make sure they aren’t teaching kids about things like supernatural literature.
Warnke networked widely in the evangelical community, forging ties with the Jesus People, the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, Pentacostal preachers, Charismatics, and anyone else who unquestioningly accepted his testimony. They adored him. He was real, solid proof that an occult underground was devouring America’s youth.
As mentioned in Part I, Warnke moved Sue and their two children to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1974 so he could attend Trinity Bible College. The Warnkes became friends with another student at the bible college, Carolyn Alberty. Her testimony, while not as thrilling as Mike’s, still grabbed attention: She was “third-generation Mafia”, with a dad who ran gambling dens and a mom who ran brothels.
By the end of the school year, Mike and Carolyn were having an affair.
It was also around this time that Warnke made the peculiar decision to become a deacon in the Syro-Chaldean Church, a renegade offshoot of the Eastern Orthodox church. He would later lace his own services with Orthodox accoutrements such as gaudy robes and incense, which is very much at odds with the negative picture he paints in The Satan Seller of the “almost sensual” trappings of Catholicism. (p. 7)
After graduating from Trinity in the spring of ’75, the Warnkes moved to Denver. Mike lured his mistress, Carolyn, there with the promise of employment at Pastor Wally Hickey’s Happy Church, where Mike held an unpaid position as an evangelist for one of the church’s lay ministries.
By the end of the year, he and Carolyn were openly a couple and his “employment” with The Happy Church was over.
In September ’76, Mike moved with Carolyn to Nashville. He divorced Sue that December, despite desperate efforts by friends to negotiate a reconciliation. In early ’77, Carolyn and Mike married. Though a few Christian associates frowned heavily on the divorce and remarriage, it didn’t put a serious dent in Warnke’s public image. He appeared on the cover of the October ’76 issue of the Christian magazine Harmony. In the article, he’s quoted as saying, “Now, I’m a strong civil rights advocate. The last time I had been in Alabama was with Dr. Martin Luther King, back in my college days when I went down there on Freedom Rides. The last time I was there was to march in a civil rights demonstration. “
As you know from Part I, Warnke was in college (very briefly) in 1965. The Freedom Rides were in ’61, when Warnke was 15 years old and living in California.
In the fall of 1978, the future seemed bright for Mike Warnke. His three albums were the most popular Christian comedy albums every recorded, and his ’79 tour was going to be his biggest yet. He had also written a second memoir, Hitchhiking on Hope Street.
He was touring continuously while Carolyn remained in Nashville with her mother. You can probably see where this is going. In Kentucky, Warnke met a young woman named Rose Hall and began courting her openly. The lovers met in various cities while Warnke was on the road, dishing out Christian comedy and salvation.
His relationship with Carolyn allegedly turned violent. One night that summer, according to Carolyn, Mike shoved her into a wall during a fight and split her head open. He told her, “If you go to a local hospital and tell them what your name is, I’ll kill you. I don’t have to do it physically. I can do it from another room or another state.”
They divorced in November. Warnke told several friends that Carolyn had died.
In January 1980, he married Rose Hall. She would take a more active role in his ministry than either Sue or Carolyn, but this union was also doomed.
Sometime after his third wedding, Warnke became a “bishop”. Independent “bishop” Richard Morrill had married Carolyn and Mike in Nashville, and in 1980 he consecrated Warnke a bishop in his “Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic” (registered in the state of Texas).
In 1982, Mike and Rose registered their own ministry as “The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in Kentucky”.
The centre of Warnke’s ministry remained anti-occult, though. Throughout the early eighties, he and Rose traveled the country warning Christian audiences of the occult menace, and described their work in Kentucky helping victims of Satanism. One such victim, a little boy they called “Jeffy”, was so traumatized by years of Satanic ritual abuse that he had lapsed into catatonia.
To date, no one has been able to locate “Jeffy”.
On May 6, 1985, ABC’s 20/20 program aired a special on Satanism in America, The Devil Worshipers. This allegedly “skeptical” report by Tom Gerold was alarmist in tone from beginning to end. On the Ricky Kasso case: “Despite numerous signs that Kasso was into Satanism and rock music associated with devil worship, police steadfastly refused to label this case Satanic. The offical explanation: A drug-related crime.” Well, it was a drug-related crime. The victim, Gary Lauwers, allegedly stole ten packets of angel dust from Kasso, and Kasso (a small-time dealer) vowed he wouldn’t get away with it.
Much of the program is taken up with the problems of juvenile graffiti, dog mutilations, and horror movies, but then Warnke shows up as a “former Satanist” to describe some of the practices of devil worship. He sits behind an arrangement of props that include a sword, a goblet, and a human skull. Holding up a bone, he explains that Satanists use them to tell the future. He says he was drawn into Satanism as a young man because he “wanted to be somebody special.”
Cut to stark black-and-white photos of a teenage boy’s corpse. Writing is faintly visible on his skin. “This is a 15-year-old boy who also wanted to be special,” Tom Gerald tells us. The boy hung himself after scrawling Satanic slogans and symbols on his body. As we’ll see, tying a bizarre teen suicide to Warnke’s cult confessions was not a wise journalistic move.
Other “occult experts” interviewed for the program included “cult cop” Sandi Gallant and Dale Griffis, a former police chief whose academic credentials were exposed as bogus during the trial of Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.
Contributions to Warnke’s ministry topped $1 million in 1985, and reached over $2 million each year from 1987 to 1990. By ’91 he had released eight albums and produced a video (Do You Hear Me?). Until the spectacular collapse of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s multimedia Christian empire, he was a regular guest on The PTL Club.
Warnke’s account of his year as a Satanist had become more elaborate over the years. Though the only famous person to appear in The Satan Seller is Anton LaVey, Warnke told Morris Cerullo and others that Charles Manson attended one of his coven’s rituals in 1966 and was unimpressed, apparently disappointed that Warnke only pretended to disembowel the nude altar girl. Manson also attended the same San Francisco occult conference as LaVey, Warnke said.
Between June 1960 and March 1967, Manson was in jail for violating the Mann Act and his probation. Warnke could not have met him in the flesh unless he traveled out to McNeil Island penitentiary.
These weren’t the only stretchers Warnke was telling. In ’82, he told Contemporary Christian Music magazine he had earned a Ph.D in philosophy, a master’s degree in theology, and a second master’s degree in Christian education. Since his single term at San Bernadino Valley College back in ’65, the only schooling he had was his year in bible college. The degrees were completely fictional.
Beginning in late ’86, the Warnkes talked of establishing a treatment facility for children rescued from Satanism, and began taking donations for it. This centre never materialized. By April of 1987, the lovely brick complex of Warnke Ministries in Burgin, Kentucky, consisted of offices, chapel, and library. There were no medical facilities, no rehab quarters, and no staff trained to deal with traumatized children. Dr. John Cooper was hired as director of the centre in 1989, but was fired later that year without treating a single child.
Mike and Rose separated the same year. They divorced in ’91, and six weeks later Mike married his fourth (and current) wife, Susan Patton. They returned to California. Mike published his third book, an “educational” tome titled Schemes of Satan, quickly followed by his fourth book (co-written with Rose), Recovering from Divorce. Warnke was becoming something of an expert on the latter subject.
Warnke’s fibs and confabulations had not gone entirely unnoticed in the Christian world. In the late ’80s, Cornerstone magazine quietly launched an investigation into his ministry and background. This was a publication of Jesus People USA, established and run by Christians. Warnke was being examined by his own people.
Cornerstone writers Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein had already examined Lauren Stratford’s popular memoir of child abuse and Satanic worship, Satan’s Underground (which we’ll see later in this series). They found that Stratford’s story didn’t correspond in any way to the known facts of her life. This was a disappointment to the many Christians and anti-occult activists who had supported “Lauren” and promoted her testimony, but the publishers of Cornerstone felt the truth was more important than protecting the reputations of fellow Christians.
They took the same approach to Warnke’s background. Trott and Hertenstein interviewed family, classmates, friends, associates, and former employees of Warnke. They also waded through a swamp of divorce proceedings, financial documents, and academic records to ferret out which of Warnke’s many claims were true.
The results were stunning. Trott and Hertenstein learned from Warnke’s own mother (half-sister Shirley Schrader) that he had not wandered away from church life as a teenager. In fact, he asked to be confirmed as a Catholic in his senior year of high school.
When he was supposedly living with two slave-girls in a Satanic bachelor pad, strung out on speed, with bleached hair down to his butt and black-painted fingernails, Warnke was actually engaged to a devoutly Catholic nursing student named Lois Eckenrod. They met within the first two months of college, got engaged in the winter of 1965, and spent every day together until Mike joined the Navy the following June. Lois says Mike was a Christian who always kept his hair short. He lived alone. He showed no signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
His college friend Greg Gilbert, with whom he lived for a while, described 18-year-old Warnke in much the same way. He was part of a loose-knit group of clean-cut, mostly Christian, students who bowled, played croquet, and drank very little.
His high school and college buddies had never seen him take a drag, much less move hundreds of kilos into the Inland Empire at the behest of Satanic kingpins. While Mike “Judas” Warnke was supposedly lopping off the fingers of devil-worshipers and sipping blood from a chalice, the real Mike Warnke was bowling, sharing hot fudge sundaes with his Catholic girlfriend, and listening to folk music at campus coffeehouses.
While Warnke claims he avoided his family after enrolling at college, Shirley Schrader says Mike had Christmas dinner in Crestline with the family in ’65. She noticed nothing out of the ordinary about his appearance or demeanor.
The recollections of his friends and family members weren’t the only things that contradicted Warnke’s story. Trott and Hertenstein used the handful of time cues in The Satan Seller to figure out just how long it took Warnke to become a drug-addicted Satanic high priest. In their side-article “Why the Dates Don’t Work“, they explain how his chronology is flat-out impossible.
They also sorted out Warnke’s confusing claims about his education, learning that he didn’t possess a single degree aside from the one issued by Trinity Bible College – a nonaccredited school.
They heard allegations of death threats and abuse from Warnke’s second wife, Carolyn. They learned that he had carried on an affair during this marriage even before meeting his third wife, Rose.
They spoke to former ministry employees who quit or were fired after they realized that all the money being raised wasn’t being spent in the ways it was supposed to be spent. The rehab center for child victims of Satanic ritual abuse, for instance, never existed as anything more than a fantasy.
Cornerstone published the results of Trott and Hertenstein’s research as a cover article in June 1992: “Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke“.
Testimonials supporting Warnke immediately cropped up: David Balsiger, first wife Sue Studer, Bob Larson, Pat Matrisciana, Joanna Michealson, and others stood behind him. Note that all of these people met Warnke after his supposed year of Satanic involvement.
His record label, Word, also pledged loyalty to Warnke. Warnke himself penned a scathing letter to Cornerstone, declaring that he stood by his autobiography “exactly as published”, boasting of his “nationally recognized expertise on the occult”, and dismissing ex-wife Carolyn as a “cold-hearted and calculating temptress”.
The Lexington Herald-Leader then picked up the ball, printing an expose of financial irregularities in Warnke’s ministry.
Word promtply dumped Warnke.
In September, the Warnkes shut down their ministry. Warnke ultimately admitted that his coven of 1500 Satanists actually consisted of 13 people. He declined to give their names, claiming that 8 of them were deceased, and never provided any evidence in support of his testimony.
In the spring of 1993, a panel of ministers assembled to sort out Warnke’s problems, both spiritual and financial. The group rebuked him for his ungodly behaviour, recommended changes to his ministry (including accountability reports and salary caps), and advised that he pay back taxes to the IRS. Warnke reportedly complied with everything.
Warnke’s ministry took a severe beating for a few years, but in the grand tradition of American preacher scandals, he was rehabilitated and welcomed back into the arms of the Christian community. By 2000, he was back on tour. The born again was born again.
But he wasn’t entirely chastened by his scandal. In 2002 he published a book titled Friendly Fire: A Recovery Guide for Believers Battered by Religion, in which he vented about his treatment at the hands of other Christians. And to this day, he maintains that his experiences with Satanism are essentially as he described them back in the ’70s.
Today, Warnke and his fourth wife run Celebrations of Hope Ministry. Warnke’s fellow preachers skirt around the whole Satanic thing these days, focusing instead on his trials and triumphs as a temporary Christian pariah. During Warnke’s appearance on The New Jim Bakker Show in 2007, Bakker told the audience, “Mike was saved out of Satanism or something.”
Warnke’s own comments during this show are illuminating. He joked that exaggeration on the part of televangelists is “evangelasticity”. Explaining how he got into comedy/ministry, he said, “I was a child of the Jesus Movement, and of course in the Jesus Movement we all had to have a testimony. If you had been to seminary, if you had six doctorates, if you’d been in the ministry for 25 years, nobody wanted to hear a word you had to say. If you killed your mom, in say 15 minutes they’d let you pass [into] the church.” In time, he realized that his own “four-star testimony” was bumming out his audiences, so he leavened it with comedy.
He says he entered the Navy to escape murderous Satanists. He figured there wouldn’t be any Satanists or homosexuals there.
Today, Warnke is a “Right Reverend”, and the website of Christian Communion International identifies him as a doctor.
The long hair is gone, the evangelasticity is a little less springy, but he’s still the same “former Satanist” who scared the hell out of millions of Christians for nearly two decades. His four-star testimony convinced them that all witches, Pagans, and Satanists are a threat to every American family, and that the occult menace of Halloween celebrations and rock music must be destroyed.
The rehabilitation of his career demonstrates that truth is of secondary importance to certain quarters of America’s faith community.
The First of Many
In 1973, Englishwoman Doreen Irvine published her autobiography, From Witchcraft to Christ. Just eight years earlier, an exorcist had expelled 47 demons from her body. Years before that, she was Queen of the Black Witches of Europe.
Since the late ’60s, Irvine has given her Christian testimony countless times. She has appeared on 100 Huntley Street and in Christian documentaries about the dangers of the occult. (1) Her story has been cited by many Christian authors, including Russ Parker and the late Dr. Kurt Koch, as a reliable account of what witches and Satanists do (like many “former Satanists”, Irvine used the terms “witchcraft” and “Satanism” interchangeably).
She was the first of many born again Christians who claimed to be ex-witches and/or ex-Satanists, among them women who claimed to have been high priestesses in destructive Satanic cults, so her testimony provided a sort of blueprint. Among such testimonies, many of the same elements recur time and again:
– A Dickensian childhood full of abuse, exploitation, and deprivation
– An early introduction to Jesus that would pave the way for salvation later in life (In Doreen’s case, her Sunday school lessons)
– An absence of time markers
– Lack of detail about the beliefs of Satanists (scripture, philosophy, etc.), but extraneous detail about the practices of Satanists (sacrifice, crime, etc.)
– Helplessness. Rather than being led into Satanic evil through his/her bad choices, the protagonist is usually a naive and vulnerable innocent victimized, lured, or coerced into sin by more worldly people. Once ensnared, escape is impossible.
– Supernatural events and paranormal abilities are common. Demons and angels materialize, Satanists use death curses against their enemies, and sometimes Satan himself makes an appearance.
– A remarkable conversion experience
– Complete redemption and forgiveness through Christ
– Expert advice on the occult. After sharing his/her testimony, the ex-witch or former Satanist gives us pointers on how to avoid occultism, prevent children from becoming involved in it, and/or how to expunge it from our communities. There are typically warnings about Ouija boards, Halloween, and occult literature.
Doreen Irvine’s testimony does bear key differences from later ex-witch stories, though. First of all, she gives no explicit suggestion of a worldwide Satanic conspiracy. However, the “fact” that her cult encompasses at least the whole of Europe does hint at Satanic organization on a global scale. Secondly, her family was not involved in the occult (in later stories of “former Satanists”, multigenerational Satanism became the norm).
From Soho to Satan
According to her testimony, Irvine’s circuitous route to evangelical stardom began around 1948, when she became a teenage prostitute in London’s East End. We know the approximate year only because she gives the year of her conversion (1964) and provides a few numbers that allow us to make guesstimates of the chronology. As in most ex-Satanists’ testimonies, time markers and dates and specific names are almost nonexistent. Perhaps such details are omitted to lend the stories a timeless quality, or maybe there are other reasons for leaving out information that can be checked. (2)
Doreen describes her childhood as terrible. Though she adored him, her dad was a drunk who beat his wives and couldn’t provide for his five daughters. Doreen slept on piles of dirty laundry in lieu of a bed, and seldom had shoes. She attended school so rarely that she was illiterate until her late teens. Mum fled when she was 11.
So at 14, Doreen was walking the streets. By 16, after a stint as a domestic servant, she was a striptease artist and a callgirl in Soho.
She turned to Satanism around 1950, at the age of 16. She had begged to be inducted after overhearing two other strippers discussing the “secret, ancient order” to which they belonged. Reluctantly, the girls agreed to take her to a coven gathering at “Satan’s temple”, but she had to be blindfolded until she was inside.
When the blindfold was removed, Doreen saw about 400 people and 13 priests/priestesses gathered in a hall adorned with effigies of Satan. The high priest of these “black witches” sat on a throne (Irvine refers to him as “the chief Satanist”). At some point a white rooster was killed and its blood drained into a cup, to be mixed with blood from a cut made on Doreen’s arm. She drank from the cup, then signed a parchment pact with the Devil, pledging to serve Satan for the rest of her life.
Though the temple was packed with people, Doreen later learned that only VIPs were present that night, because there wasn’t enough elbow room for all the London area’s black witches.
Under the name Diana (her stage name), Doreen spent the next 16 years developing occult powers and learning by heart the Book of Satan, an ancient tome six times thicker than the Bible. Satanism had many rules, and she learned them all.
In return, she received Mindfreakish paranormal abilities. She could levitate several feet off the ground, read minds, render herself invisible, manifest apports, and kill birds in midflight just by looking at them.
At some point, the chief Satanist told her she would be a contender to become Queen of the Black Witches. She would compete against six other witches at a midnight ceremony held on the moor at Dartmoor.
As always, the witches were naked. Just before the ceremony commenced, a local pastor showed up with two reporters, having somehow caught wind that witches would be convening that night. The witches, having nowhere to hide, went into a panic until Doreen assured them she could make everyone invisible. They joined hands, and were enveloped in a swirling green mist that obscured them from the three men.
Doreen easily won the magical competition. In the final phase of the test, each witch had to walk into a raging bonfire with flames 7 feet high. The successful candidate would reach the centre of the fire, where Satan himself would met her and lead her out of the flames unharmed. This is exactly what happened to Doreen. She strode confidently into the fire and saw her master, “Diablos” [sic], materialize before her as a “great black figure”. He took her hand and walked with her out of the fire before vanishing, leaving Doreen without so much as a blister. She was then crowned with a crown of “pure gold” and ensconced on a throne as Queen of the Black Witches of Europe, with the other witches prostrated before her. She held this title for one year.
Doreen goes into great detail about her paranormal abilities, the accoutrements of Satanism (thrones, a “golden orb”, etc.), and the “perverted” lesbian and gay sexual activities of witches. But she tells us remarkably little about what the “black witches” of this “ancient order” believe. Their beliefs seem to be centred on the repudiation of Christianity and very little else, as evidenced by the 8 rules of Satanism:
1. Never reveal the whereabouts of a Satanic temple or what goes on in it to an outsider.
2. Obey the “chief satanist” and commit yourself to Satan for life.
3. Never enter a Christian church.
4. Never read the Holy Bible.
5. The Holy scriptures are to be mocked and burned in the Satanic temple, and all Christian literature destroyed.
6. Satanists who are not punctual at worship will be whipped.
7. Lying, cheating, swearing, lust, and murder are permitted.
8. Prayers must be made to Lucifer daily.
This list is bizarre and simple-minded in the extreme. It’s as though someone asked a child or a young teenager to describe what they think Satanists or witches might be like. Not one item corresponds to actual beliefs or practices common among Satanists, Pagans, or witches.
Surprisingly, being queen of all the witches in Europe brought absolutely no material benefits to Doreen. She held the title for just one year, then it was back to being a heroin addict and prostitute. Her circumstances worsened considerably as the years passed. Whereas in her teens she had been a “classy” callgirl, by 1964 (when she was about 30), she was back hooking on the streets. That’s where she spotted a poster for a sermon by evangelist Eric Hutchings, which enraged her. She decided to attend the event expressly to “punch him in the nose”.
Instead, she was saved. Satan audibly warned her not to give herself to Christ, and even physically tried to restrain her, yet Doreen felt a love she had never known and stumbled to the altar to commit herself to Christ just as unquestioningly as she committed herself to the Devil 16 years earlier.
Salvation did not completely dispel her demons, however. Doreen experienced fits at church services, so in 1965 she underwent a 7-month exorcism by the Reverend Arthur Neil of Bristol and a group of other pastors. They expelled 47 demons.
Aside from the events enshrined in her testimony, not much is known of Doreen Irvine’s life. We know she gave birth to a disabled daughter around 1962, two years before she was saved. For many years she traveled to other countries to share her testimony, and counselled other ex-witches in England. She fell out of public view in the mid-’90s.
When giving her testimony, Irvine always stressed that she wanted to glorify Christ rather than Satan, and spoke effusively of her new life in Christ. She spoke succinctly, in an organized manner, often using exactly the same words and phrases.
She comes across as an earnest, candid believer. It’s difficult to believe she could be mentally disturbed, or an attention junkie, but of course both possibilities must be considered. Irvine herself claims she was diagnosed as being schizophrenic (more on that below).
Why Doreen Irvine’s Testimony Probably Isn’t True
Quite simply, it doesn’t stand up to the facts.
Witches are not Satanists, and Satanists are not witches. This conflation appears again and again in the testimonies of “former witches”. Some Christians will try to tell you that Wiccans and Pagans only pretend to be devoted to earth religions; in reality, they’re devil-worshipers bent on destroying Christianity. As anyone familiar with Satanism, Paganism, and witchcraft knows, this is completely false.
Satanism, neo-Paganism, and witchcraft are far more than knee-jerk reactions to Christianity. They have distinct beliefs, rules, and rituals unrelated to Christianity.
No Satanic or witchcraft movement has encompassed all of Europe. Even in pre-Christian Europe, Pagan beliefs were regional and diverse. Celtic culture, for instance, had different gods and customs than Nordic cultures. Today, many covens operate more or less independently. The notion of a single, continent-wide Satanic church with a tightly organized hierarchical structure existing from ancient times is a fantasy.
If a Satanic “ancient order” did exist, its hierarchy would surely have well-defined titles and roles. There is little evidence of that in Doreen’s account. She says virtually nothing about her duties as Queen of the Black Witches, and she refers to her male counterpart by the generic title “chief Satanist” (a term that no established Satanic organization uses).
Loose terminology is a recurrent problem in ex-Satanist testimonies.
Irvine contradicts herself repeatedly. For example, rule #4 of Satanism is supposedly that Satanists must never enter Christian churches, yet Irvine tells us that she and her co-religionists frequently entered churches to steal and burn Bibles.
Her account is uncorroborated. In the four decades that have passed since Doreen Irvine began sharing her story, not one of the other thousands of “black witches” has appeared, and no evidence of their existence has surfaced. No one has seen the largest Satanic temple she described, supposedly located in Bristol.
Other ex-Satanists described covens much different from Doreen’s. In fact, despite the superficial similarities of their accounts, every former Satanist seems to describe a different system of Satanism – even though most of them claim to be describing the world-wide “church of Satan”.
She presents no evidence. This is another issue that crops up again and again with ex-Satanists’ testimonies.
People who have defected from secretive cults have generally been able to provide some evidence that they actually belonged to those groups. Ex-Satanists like Irvine provide zero evidence. No temples have been found, though they were of considerable size and were used frequently by hundreds of people. No one has seen a copy of the massive Book of Satan that Doreen memorized (and she will not reproduce passages from it). There is not a single photograph or document accompanying Doreen’s presentations, not one other defector has appeared, and she refuses to divulge any names or locations associated with the “black witches”.
Other claims Doreen’s story make no sense at all. Reverend Arthur Neil, the Bristol minister who exorcised Doreen in 1965, wrote the introduction to From Witchcraft to Christ. In it, he included a letter sent to him by Doreen in which she states that brain scans and X-rays taken prior to her exorcism revealed she had “extensive brain damage”. She was also diagnosed as schizophrenic and suffered from unnamed physical and neurological problems so severe that doctors gave her about six months to live.
X-rays taken after the exorcism, however, showed no evidence of brain damage. Ergo, she concludes, demons had caused brain damage that was miraculously reversed.
This is all very problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, because X-rays cannot show brain tissue (at the most, they can reveal skull damage indicating underlying tissue damage). Secondly, Doreen does not explicitly state that she was cured of the schizophrenia and the other unspecified ailments. Thirdly, she presents no evidence of either her ailments or their miraculous disappearance.
How Doreen Irvine’s Testimony Has Been Used
Doreen’s conversion story served both as an inspiration to Christians and as an evangelistic tool to be used on people they hoped to covert. It contained a powerful message of redemption: If even a drug-addicted prostitute who worshiped the Devil can be saved, then no one is beyond the grasp of Jesus. Any and all can be saved, and no sin is unforgivable.
Doreen’s story also served to foster complete reliance on Jesus Christ. “You can’t change yourself, ” she told her audiences. “Only Jesus can change you.” (2)
Doreen’s testimony was soon used for another purpose; to counteract the effects of the burgeoning New Age movement, and the various “alternative” religions that had become popular in the ’60s.
Its hegemony seriously threatened for the first time by other religions, the Christian church in America and the UK (particularly the fundamentalist denominations) launched an anti-occult crusade. Preachers warned of the spiritual hazards posed by Halloween, rock music, Ouija boards, and occult bookstores. Doreen’s story was cited extensively by the late Dr. Kurt Koch in his book Occult ABC (which I reviewed here), and by Russ Parker in his book Battling the Occult.
Doreen’s book, and the testimonies that followed, provided tangible evidence of a spiritual battle between the forces of God and the forces of evil. They helped mobilize Christians for spiritual warfare, created cohesion among believers by identifying a common enemy, and upped morale. After all, conversions like Doreen Irvine’s can make the enemy appear like a worthy opponent destined to be vanquished.
Doreen’s testimony is still being used in this way today. One Baptist blogger recently wrote, “One has only to read the testimonies of Dr Rebecca Brown and Doreen Irvine and of most missionaries to realize that there are dark forces assailed [sic] against us.”
In the late ’80s, Irvine actively joined in the anti-occult crusade in the UK spearheaded by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP, Maureen Davies of Reachout Trust, Dianne Core of Childfind, the Reverend Kevin Logan, and others. Dickens called for all forms of witchcraft to be outlawed in England, while Core and Davies disseminated alarmist misinformation about Satanic ritual abuse and Satanic crime. Rev. Logan performed mass exorcisms on “ritually abused” children and counseled adults who claimed to be former Satanists. Doreen also counseled former Satanists, joined the Investigation Committee of the Evangelical Alliance, and became a representative for the UK Campus Crusade for Christ. She and Maureen Davies appeared in Caryl Matrisciana‘s documentary Devil Worship: The Rise of Satanism. (3)
By this time, Satanism wasn’t just a threat to strippers anymore. Dickens, Core and cohorts insisted that children were being Satanically abused from infancy by parents, daycare providers, and pornographers. Every atrocity imaginable was being committed by these fiends: Incest, torture, ritual human sacrifice, bestiality, child sex slavery and prostitution.
There was no forensic evidence of these goings-on, so testimony like Irvine’s became indispensable as the only “evidence” that a well-organized criminal Satanic underground was operating in the UK.
Doreen’s influence on a younger generation of women soon become evident, and the results were grim.
In 1987, a deeply troubled 20-year-old woman named Caroline Marchant received counselling at the Zion Christian Temple at Yate, near Bristol. One of her counselors was Doreen Irvine.
Caroline claimed that at the age of 13, she had been sexually initiated into a Satanic cult in Norfolk by her boyfriends’ parents. She gave birth to a child that year, but the birth was unregistered and the baby taken from her and shipped to America by the Satanists. She also underwent at least one abortion. The teenage father of her first baby was ritually murdered in her presence by his own father, a leading member of the cult. The cult also sacrificed newborns on a regular basis.
Over the next 8 years Caroline became a high priestess of Satan, worked as a prostitute, and abused drugs. The Satanists ritually abused her throughout this time, raping her and carving symbols into the inside of her vagina.
In 1985 she joined a Baptist church, and gave her testimony to the congregation. She didn’t mention Satanism or abuse, but did say she had been raped while living in Norfolk.
During ’86 she spent several periods at residential healing centres operated by evangelical Christians, and began to speak of Satanism. For the rest of her life, she sought refuge in the homes of evangelical Christians who seemed sympathetic to her troubles. One Christian couple was harsh with her, however. Believing that she was not telling them the full story of her Satanic past, they ordered her to either confess all her sins to Maureen Davies of Reachout Trust or she would be cast out of their house like Cain, to wander as a fugitive for the remainder of her days. So Caroline contacted Davies and told her whole story.
Maureen Davies introduced Caroline to Kevin Logan. Logan took her into his home. Logan had turned St. John’s Vicarage near Blackburn, Lancashire, into a halfway house for ex-satanists and witches.
On the morning of February 16, 1990, Logan found Caroline unconscious in her room. She had taken a fatal dose of the anti-depressants she had been prescribed. She died 19 days later.
Davies and Logan told the press that Satanists had pursued Caroline after her defection from the cult. Increasingly fearful of being killed for her betrayal, she took her own life. That was the bullshit story given to London’s Sunday Mirror, which on March 25, 1990, published an account of Caroline’s life under the headline “I SACRIFICED MY BABIES TO SATAN – From sex orgy to death at the hands of the Devil’s disciples.” The article didn’t mention that Caroline had taken her fatal overdose while in the care of Kevin Logan.
The real story of Caroline’s life emerged, bit by bit. Caroline’s divorced father, Les Marchant, was a self-employed builder in Hayes, Middlesex. He placed his two children in foster care because he found it difficult to raise them on his own.
Shortly before Caroline’s 13th birthday in 1979, foster parents Gordon and May Porter moved to a horse farm in Norfolk. For the next four years, Caroline and younger brother lan lived at Border House Stables in Fordham with several other foster children and the Porters’ own daughters. Caroline rode horses and took dancing lessons. She had medical check-ups every six months and was closely supervised. The Porters, her friends, and her foster siblings agreed that she could not possibly have been pregnant during this time.
After high school, Caroline earned her certificate as a trainee instructor in horse management, then worked as a nanny before becoming dependent on her fellow Christians for housing and support. When she killed herself, she left behind bizarre and contradictory accounts of her supposed Satanic past.
The solicitor hired for her by Maureen Davies, Ronald Marshall, believed Caroline possessed valuable inside information about snuff movies, child sacrifice, Satanic financing, arms deals involving the IRA and the Baader-Meinhof gang, and shady political dealings. There is no evidence that Caroline Marchant had any knowledge of such things. In fact, everything she said and wrote about Satanism seemed to come from Christian sources.
Her incomplete autobiography plagiarized passages from Irvine’s From Witchcraft to Christ. Describing her first encounter with her devil-worshiping boyfriend she wrote, “He explained the difference between being good and what good really was. Evil was right… It sounded crazy to me but I was soon brainwashed into that way of thought.” Compare this to a passage in From Witchcraft to Christ, which reads “I was taught that evil… is not wrong, but right and good. It sounded stupid to me, but I started to believe it… It was a kind of brainwashing.” Caroline’s initiation into her boyfriend’s cult was nearly identical to Doreen’s: “When the time came I stepped forward up to the altar, an incision was made on my arm and some of the blood caught up in the cup with the cockerel’s blood.”
A second post-mortem exam conducted on Caroline by Leeds-based pathologist Dr Michael Green could not determine if Caroline had ever given birth. There was no conclusive evidence of sexual abuse. The genital mutilations were not evident at all.
Caroline Marchant was not the only “ex-Satanist” taken under the wing of the UK anti-occult crusaders during this time. Former devil-worshiper and born again evangelical Audrey Harper became a member of the Reachout Trust, lecturing widely on the dangers posed by Satanists in the UK. She claimed she had been lured into a posh Satanic coven in the late ’60s, when she was a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute.
In 1988 she gave her story to the Sunday Sport. She described how she been initiated into Satanism at a ceremony in which the throat of a rooster was slit and its blood smeared on her body. Two years later, when her memoir Dance with the Devil was published, the sacrificed rooster had become a sacrificed baby. Times had changed. (3)
1. Audio of her appearance on 100 Huntley Street can be found here.
2. In addition to the recording above, there is a video presentation on YouTube, c. 1986.
See the original story here.
In a Sioux City Journal story published today, reporter Molly Montag sheds some light on accused child murderer Larry Harris’s background. He has a history of emotional instability, self-harm, and suicide attempts. He was evidently curious about both Wicca, which he claimed to be practicing, and LaVeyan Satanism. Needless to say, these completely separate belief systems are being conflated by prosecutors and the public (and may have been conflated by Harris himself), though they have virtually no elements in common. It would be impossible to fully and responsibly practice both unless you are, well, insane.
Harris’s attorney is going for an insanity defense.
The comments made on the article are disappointing. Rather than recognizing that Harris seems to be a deeply disturbed, confused person, readers are chalking his crime up to the occult:
“I do not mean to be mean-spirited but this is what happens when you play around and dabble in the occult or read the Satanic Bible. This is probably why his spell backfired. It is playing with fire. I feel badly for this man, but also for the mother, family and that the two girls died a violent, brutal, death. “
“Witchraft and wicca is evil.”
No, this is not what happens when you dabble in the occult. You will not turn into a crazed child-killer by reading The Satanic Bible or practicing Wicca. Someone as disturbed as Larry Harris would have killed his stepdaughters with or without “spells”.
The murder of two little girls in Sioux City, Iowa, committeed five days ago, has already been solved.
By the media.
When police responded to the report of a fire at 1420 Nebraska Street on Sunday, January 4, they discovered the bodies of Kendra Suing, 10, and Alysha Suing, 8. Both girls had been murdered. The only other person at the premises was their stepfather, Lawrence Harris Sr., who reportedly told the authorities that the deaths had occurred in the course of some kind of ritual; Harris mentioned something about a dangerous “spell gone bad”. He has been charged with killing his stepdaughters.
The Sioux City press doesn’t have much more information than this. The autopsy results have not been released; a requested psychiatric evaluation of Harris has not yet been conducted; family members questioned about Harris say they don’t know him very well; Harris’s religious affiliation, if any, is not known. So the media has turned to a reliable stand-in for hard news: Fanning the flames of anti-occult hysteria.
Yesterday, the Sioux City Journal printed a story by reporters Dolly Butz and Travis Coleman titled “Girls had many questions about witchcraft, pastor says.” Pastor Cary Gordon of the Cornerstone World Outreach church, where the Suing sisters attended a youth club for “at-risk” kids, is quoted as saying that a church bus driver fielded lots of questions about witchcraft from the girls.
Why were the girls asking such questions? According to Gordon, “Our bus captain got the creepy feeling that they obviously had a lot of weird stuff going on in their house.” However, the article also states that the questions came after a “summer lesson about the sinfulness of practicing witchcraft.”
Let’s get this straight. We don’t know if the Suing girls learned anything about witchcraft at home. We do know that, for some reason, they were being educated about witchcraft at church. (This does not strike me as an age-appropriate topic, but that’s another post.) Therefore, it’s not at all reasonable to assume the girls’ questions were prompted by anything that was going on at home. And it’s not at all reasonable for the newspaper to report such speculation. In fact, it’s pseudojournalistic, sensationalistic, and irresponsible.
Furthermore, the deaths of these two girls is a reprehensible act, no matter who committed it or why. It doesn’t make much difference if the perp was a Christian, a Jew, an agnostic, or anything else. Harris must be prosecuted for his alleged crimes, not for any alleged religious affiliations or beliefs. It disturbs me that prosecutors have already declared that Harris was “practicing Satanism and that the killings were part of a ritual from a satanic bible”.
The first Journal article linking the murders to witchcraft was printed on Monday, the day after the murders.