• Google translate:  
Increase Font Sizesmallerreset

The Devil You Say

Article Index
The Devil You Say
Other signs of increased concern

WHILE THE REPORTS OF ABUSE AND RITUAL PILE UP, AUTHORITIES CAN'T HELP BUT ASK: WHERE ARE ALL THE BODIES BURIED?

PUBLIC CONCERN ABOUT SATANISM IS UP, BUT SUPPORTING EVIDENCE LINKING KIDNAPPINGS, SACRIFICES OR ABUSE TO ACTUAL CRIMES IS SCANTY

Saturday, May 11, 1991 Section: Religion Page: 1C

By: JOHN JOHNSON AND STEVE PADILLA, Los Angeles Times

JACQUIE Balodis is talking softly about her bad childhood.

How bad was it? It was unbelievably bad.

"I was born into Satanism," the 49-year-old Garden Grove woman said. As she describes it, her early years in Pueblo, Colo., included devil worship, human sacrifice and cannibalism.

She said that as a teen-ager she was twice impregnated by her stepfather (now deceased). Both fetuses were aborted and used in rituals, she said. "Part of me believed it was my privilege to give my child to Satan."

The memories were suppressed for years, she insists, then recovered in psychotherapy.

Balodis admits it sounds weird. Weirder yet, such tales are becoming common. Across America, people say that they have regained memories of abuse by parents who belonged to a worldwide network of devil-worshipers.

In fact, authorities say, America is witnessing an epidemic of concern over Satan and his minions, especially among adherents of fundamentalist Christianity. So-called ritual abuse is only part of it.

But are these stories of incest and human sacrifice true? Many mental-health experts think not. And at least two law enforcement officers, with the FBI and the San Francisco police, say they have looked into some of the claims and found nothing.

Some real events probably lend credence to the idea that Satan-worshipers are everywhere:

There is a self-styled Church of Satan, founded in 1966 by a former lion tamer and revival- show organist. Preaching the pursuit of pleasure, it employs satanic symbols such as pentagrams and black robes in its rituals. But it has not been linked with criminal activity.

In a just-concluded Orange County case, two self-proclaimed victims took their elderly mother to court and accused her of having been part of a child-murdering cult. A jury found in their favor April 12, although it did not award them money damages.

Some jurors said the verdict did not mean that they believed the Satanism story, only that the women had been abused. But one of the women's supporters said after the decision, "It's a grand day for victims. Somebody believed them. It's now going to encourage more victims to talk."

A lot of people already are talking.

"The Satanism scare has at various times approached panic levels," said David Bromley, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. Bromley co-wrote a forthcoming book on the subject, "The Satanism Scare."

Jeffrey Victor, a sociologist at Jamestown Community College in New York, has tracked 33 "rumor panics" in 24 states in the late 1980s. One occurred in 1988 in Breathitt County, Ky., where parents kept their children home from school amid rumors that Satanists were plotting to kidnap blond, blue-eyed children. Another caused scores of Jamestown, N.Y., citizens to arm themselves with clubs and scour the forests for a chimerical band of Satanists.