Call for caution and reason as new cases fuel Satanic Panic

Originally published in Penton 11 October 2012 by Francisco Fumarola

More than a year ago, Danie Krügel called the Van Eck “graveyard murder” one “of the worst satanic crimes”. Krügel, with ties to Christian organization Auksano, really wanted the public to believe this. Soon the media called the crime a “satanic crime” and an “occult crime”.

A “3rd Degree” special was even used as a one sided propaganda platform for Auksano. Auksano members and even a “former Satanist” warned against the dangers of Satanism and occultism in this special. They found all kinds of ties between the Van Eck case and supposed satanic practices – they all turned out to be very wrong. The “Satanism”and “Occultism” of the Van Eck case was a construct of the media and of Auksano.

Just in a matter of months new high profile cases are arising. Soon “Huisgenoot” and “You” will publish an article entitled “Moorde vir Satan” and “Satanists are hunting us”. Once these popular magazines publish such articles, the rumour mills will be running again. The public will be reminded of the dangers of “Satanism” and of “the occult”, and cult-cops and Christian pastors will have another victory – Convenient how these stories plant the seeds in the minds of the public for the need of an “occult unit”.

I listed some references to these current cases in my “Satanic Panic Sources and Resources” article. I did not quite know how to categorize them at the time. They seemed to contain the usual amount of jumping to conclusions and sensationalism, where any vague reference to Satanism can result in the crime receiving the “satanic” label. It did not even have the usually “satanic signs found” nonsense. (Link to article no longer works) (Link to article no longer works)

(The articles referred to here dealt with the early events in the Krugersdorp murder saga)

The two murdered women referred to in these articles worked with a Christian group called “Overcomers through Christ”, the group seems to be involved in deliverance ministry and this may include reaching out to so-called Satanists (more likely disturbed dabblers and role-players in a Christian context) (Note how much this turned out to be true 2023/04/06)
There was no further news on this, so I dismissed it as the usual nonsense where nothing was found and the hype just died down. Then it cropped up again recently…. (Link no longer works) (Link no longer works)

So all we really have thus far is a lot of sensationalism and media-hype throwing around titles to link these crimes to“Satanism”. There is nothing known about motive at this stage and yet a lot of jumping to conclusions abound. The only link between the victims is their apparent ties to the Christian “overcomers” group and this is not so clear in every case. It could really be anything, jumping to conclusions at this stage is pointless and the media is again being very irresponsible in their handling of these cases.If we want to speculate and make up stories we can imagine that there is a serial killer with links to the Christian group, someone who knows the victims and knows who takes the courses (turned out to be true 2023/04/06). We can really make anything up. However, the supposed “Satanic” connection is really juicy and will sell papers and magazines – irresponsible journalism.

The fourth victim, Michaela Valentine, apparently took a course with the “overcomers” and had no “official ties” to the group. Apparently, the mudered pastor was mentoring someone also involved with the group.

Motive for Michaela’s murder was made out as robbery and there is a lot of hype in the Looklocal article around the fact that only a phone was stolen – perhaps the murderer ran out of time or suspected someone was on to him – all speculation really, as much as linking all these crimes to a satanic conspiracy.

A lot is also made of the unsubstantiated claim that Ria Grunewald was sent a piece of something that “looked like a piece of brain”. Was this actually tested and confirmed to be human tissue? Was this actually confirmed to have belonged to the pastor, Reginald Bendixen, or to have any links to his murder? A Satan-mongering media just loves to drop such unsubstantiated rumours and hints to make a case appear more mysterious.

When the Van Eck case emerged last year, I was immediately suspicious at the use of the “satanic” label for the crime. Those who criticized this usage of the “satanic” label amidst all the hype turned out to be correct in the end. And I suspect yet again that there are other factors involved with these current cases. Labeling a crime to indicate some religious motive is ludicrous anyway and conveniently only done when it comes to minority religious groups.

This very convenient recent rise in cases of “Satanism” and “possible occult involvement”, as constructed in the media, serves the purposes of the anti-occult ministries and cult-cops very well. They are still on their crusade to convince the country “the devil is on the loose” and we all need “to turn to God”. They want to convince all of us that we are in some kind of mythical war and our very souls are at stake. We should tread very carefully as the occult community; the media in general seems biased in favour of Christianity and the Christian myth of Satanism –which is nothing but a useful tool in fundamentalist Christianity.

In the very slight chance that the murderer actually does turn out to be someone who thinks the “devil makes him do it”, he should stop for a moment and consider the fact that he or she is actually nothing but a tool for fundamentalist Christianity, driving the flocks back to church in fear.