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Those quotes - such as the ones in which Raschke accuses Lanning of condoning ritualistic activity and child abuse as "integral parts of some spiritual belief systems" - totally misrepresent his paper's message, Lanning says. As an example he notes that "in the United States, you can take a knife and mutilate the genitals of an infant baby boy and be subject to no prosecution. When a rabbi mutilates a little boy's penis, he is not liable because he is doing it for the purposes of religious indoctrination, not sexual gratification."
From a law enforcement perspective, the difference between criminal ritual behavior and ritualistic aberrations can be the difference between conviction and acquittal. "Where he's missed the boat is that I'm not claiming that these people don't exist," Lanning says of Raschke. "I'm just saying how you should interpret, investigate, and categorize these crimes. He suggests that we use his definition of satanic crimes, but if that's what we do, then people who label themselves as Christians and commit crimes should be labeled Christian criminals. I'm a practicing, well-trained Christian, but it's absurd to say that no one has ever used Christianity to justify criminal behavior."
Raschke considers this opinion close to heresy. Unlike Satanism, he argues, Christianity does not advocate crime, sacrifice, and murder as part of its tenets. "They talk in the Satanic Bible about human sacrifice and then they use this sort of weasel word at the end, a disclaimer that it's not meant to be taken literally. Well, I don't think Pete Roland was capable of that intellectual finesse. A lot of kids get this glazed look in their eye when they walk into an occult bookstore, and if they're being told by a friend like Jim Hardy, `Well, let's kill a cat and drink the blood and read the Satanic Bible,' and they read about the choice of a human sacrifice, do you think they're really going to figure out what Anton LaVey had in mind?"
In Lanning's experience, though, the same kind of people have problems figuring out what the authors of the Judeo-Christian Bible had in mind. After all, the Bible is more than 1000 years old and it's still being used to justify apartheid and violence in Northern Ireland. By contrast, Lanning says, "the Satanic Bible was written in approximately 1969 by one man. We can debate what Christians are supposed to do, but who knows exactly what Satanists are supposed to believe?"
Raschke knows. Just ask him. Satanists are using volatile forms of psychological conditioning that can destroy lives, threaten our social fabric, and turn impressionable kids into drooling zombies with an insatiable appetite for bodily secretions. But that doesn't mean he's setting himself up as judge, jury, and executioner.
"I basically am a libertarian," he tells me and everyone else at Denny's. "I think people should have a right to destroy their minds, to indulge in weird fantasies. But that doesn't mean I don't have a right to speak out against something that I think is obnoxious in its influence, and try to warn people, the same way other people do with smoking. You can't make people believe something by passing a law, but you clearly can't excuse it, and you can't create a climate of opinion that gives people permission to act on certain kinds of beliefs."
Painted Black begins to attack those beliefs, but Raschke wants to go further: "I want to stir up a controversy. I want to debate these people. I'd like to get on a public stage and say, `What do you mean by this?' I'm not trying to provoke congressional hearings on Satanism, but I want the truth to be told."
And why haven't these debates taken place? Raschke smiles, an evil glint in his eye. "I think they're afraid to debate me because they know I'm going to beat them.