Hypocrisy, Plagiarism and LaVey
By John Smith, 2001

John Smith (anonymous as of 2011) was once a Christian pastor (Baptist) who published a large essay entitled "Christ's Advocate: An Incarnational Apologetic to Satanism" which was well researched and contained some criticism of Satanism. Much of the essay isn't relevant to this section, so I present parts 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 after Smith's introduction. Contact Smith to obtain the full version.

Christ's Advocate:
An Incarnational Apologetic
to Satanism

Copyright John Smith 2001
Email: xxx

3.5.1. Hypocrisy and LaVey’s Autobiography.

            However, the dialogue between Satanists and Christians need not stop with the admission by Christians that they are guilty of hypocrisy. Satanists, too, are guilty of hypocrisy. LaVey himself is representative of this.[130]

            According to Burton Wolfe, who wrote a biography of LaVey called The Devil’s Avenger,[131]

All of LaVey’s background seemed to prepare him for his role. He is the descendant of Georgian, Roumanian, and Alsatian grandparents, including a gypsy grandmother who passed on to him the legends of vampires and witches in her native Transylvania. [132]

In spite of the fact that these and other biographical details are well-circulated, it appears that virtually all of the information that LaVey and those close to him have documented are mere myths.[133] LaVey has not merely silently allowed others to repeat inaccurate details about him, he himself largely created this false persona in autobiographical material in The Satanic Bible and in personal interviews.

In a well-documented article by one of LaVey’s daughters, Zeena LaVey, and Nikolas Schreck, entitled Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality, virtually all of the oft-repeated details about LaVey were shown to be fictitious.[134] The truth about LaVey’s background is rarely published. For example, according to Lawrence Wright’s profile of LaVey, he was born with partly Jewish parentage with the name Howard Stanton Levey.[135] Autobiographical details from LaVey, such as his supposed time playing second oboe with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, running away from home and being employed as a seventeen-year-old lion tamer with the Clyde Beatty Circus, and other such claims have been discredited with evidence that has yet to be refuted.[136] However, this does not mean that no one has sought to bring such claims into disrepute. For example, according to the current High Priest of the Church of Satan Peter Gilmore,

Zeena, along with her companion Barry ‘Nikolas Schreck’ Dubin, wanted to ease Dr LaVey into retirement so that they could assume his position. Neither was suited for this role, and Dr LaVey was quite firmly in control. So when their efforts failed, they made a big show out of departing the ‘corrupt’ Church of Satan and leaving the United States behind for ‘Fortress Europa’.[137]

Whether or not this was the case is open for debate. However, what is clear is that Zeena and Nikolas’ motivation for making public the myths behind LaVey’s self-created persona does not in itself provide a case against the accuracy of their information. The lack of adequate refutation of such details by the Church of Satan or anyone else is telling.

As was noted above, LaVey pointed out that he observed the hypocrisy of Christians pretending to be one person on Saturday night and another on Sunday morning. However, the struggle of Christians to live out ethical ideals is not completely foreign to LaVey. Parallel to Howard Stanton Levey’s creation of the name Anton Szandor LaVey, was the fabrication of a matching fictional character. One begins to wonder whether LaVey ever observed the hypocrisy of the Christians he described in the first place, or if like the rest of his story bound life, he merely created it out of his active imagination.

3.5.2. Hypocrisy and Plagiarism.

            LaVey’s hypocrisy extended further than disseminating fictional “autobiographical” details. It also extended to what he is most well-known for, The Satanic Bible. Upon close inspection, it is clear that LaVey did not have many unique ideas in his writing of The Satanic Bible. He relied heavily on the ideas of a handful of authors who went before him, notably Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Aleister Crowley.[138] It should be said, however, that while LaVey wasn’t an original thinker, he should be given credit for his creative synthesis of the thought of others into what has become the most influential statement of modern Satanism.

            One other source that LaVey leaned heavily on is an author that went by the alias Ragnar Redbeard.[139] In The Satanic Bible, LaVey wrote a chapter entitled, “The Book of Satan.” However, upon the author’s comparison between this chapter and portions of Ragnar Redbeard’s 1896 work entitled, Might is Right, it is clear that without so much as a footnote or bibliographic reference that LaVey plagiarized a significant portion of Ragnar Redbeard.[140]

            Though there are much longer sections that LaVey plagiarized, due to space considerations we will here compare only a few examples of the shorter passages.[141]

I.          Redbeard: “Behold the crucifix, what does it symbolize? Pallid incompetence hanging on a tree.”[142]

                LaVey: “Behold the crucifix; what does it symbolize? Pallid incompetence hanging on a tree.”[143]

II.            Redbeard: ““Love one another” you say is the supreme law, but what power made it so?—Upon what rational authority does the Gospel of Love rest?”[144]

LaVey: ““Love one another” it has been said is the supreme law, but what power made it so? Upon what rational authority does the gospel of love rest?”[145]

III.           Redbeard: “Can the torn and bloody victim ‘love’ the blood-splashed jaws that rend it limb from limb? Are we not all predatory animals by instinct? If humans ceased wholly from preying upon each other, could they continue to exist?”[146]

LaVey: “Can the torn and bloody victim “love” the blood-splashed jaws that rend him limb from limb? Are we not all predatory animals by instinct? If humans ceased wholly from preying upon each other, could they continue to exist?”[147]

IV.           Redbeard: “Love your enemies and do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you” is the despicable philosophy of the spaniel that rolls upon its back when kicked.”[148]

LaVey: “Love your enemies and do good to them that hate and use you—is this not the despicable philosophy of the spaniel that rolls upon its back when kicked?”[149]

            LaVey wrote the introduction to a later edition of Might is Right.[150] In an interview with LaVey a question regarding the book arose. LaVey downplayed the seriousness of his plagiarism. In his words,

Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard is probably one of the most inflammatory books ever written, so who better to write an introduction? It was only natural that I excerpted a few pages of it for The Satanic Bible.[151]

LaVey went on to note, “The book has been so indelibly linked with me, it was felt that any new edition should have my name on it.”[152] However, the question of why the book had been indelibly linked to him oddly was not brought up.

            Though LaVey justly charges that many Christians are guilty of hypocrisy, LaVey falls short himself. The sixth of LaVey's Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth says, "Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved."[153] Unfortunately, when it came to writing The Satanic Bible, LaVey hypocritically fell short of following his own rules.


By John Smith (2001)

[1] Though the first section will interact with other forms of Satanism than LaVeyan, it is important to note that when we use the term “Satanism” in sections two and three, we are exclusively referring to LaVeyan Satanism, or forms of Satanism that have parallel beliefs.

[130] We have already noted that there was a large exodus of members from the Church of Satan in 1975 due to what they saw as LaVey’s hypocrisy in stating in the church’s newsletter that in the future all higher degrees would be available for contributions in cash, real estate, or valuable art objects. Drury, 195-196; Cf. Medway, 21-22.

[131] Burton H. Wolfe, The Devil’s Avenger: A Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (New York: Pyramid Books, 1974).

[132] Burton H. Wolfe in LaVey, The Satanic Bible, introduction.

[133] For examples of other sources that repeat the same largely inaccurate biographical details, cf. Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 15-16; Barton, The Church of Satan, 35-38; Drury, 190-192; Schwarz and Empey, Satanism, 72-82.

[134] Zeena LaVey and Nikolas Schreck, Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality, http://www.churchofsatan.org/aslv.html (February 2, 1998). Accessed March 1, 2001. For further confirmation of this cf. Lawrence Wright, “It’s Not Easy Being Evil in a World That’s Gone to Hell” in Rolling Stone. September 5, 1991: 63-68, 105-16. Cf. also Joe Abrams, The Church of Satan, http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/satanism/churchof.html. Accessed 17/11/01.

[135] Baddeley, 214. Referring to the influence that Sir Basil Zaharoff had on LaVey, as opposed to “Stanton” being LaVey’s middle birth name, Barton writes, “LaVey’s grandson, born in 1978, was named “Stanton Zaharoff” in his honor.” Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 24. When referring to LaVey’s grandson’s first name, Barton says that he was named after a character in William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley. Ibid., 42. What Barton fails to mention in both instances is that “Stanton” was Anton LaVey’s middle birth name. Because Barton was LaVey’s live in lover and here the author of his “authorized biography”, the failure to do so is significant because it further goes to prove a deliberate repression of pertinent information for the purposes of advancing LaVey’s self-created “autobiographical” details.

[136] LaVey and Schreck.

[137] Peter Gilmore as quoted in Baddeley, Lucifer 226.

[138] Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943); Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York, New York: Signet, 1957); Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness (New York, New York: Signet, 1964). LaVey stated that his religion was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy, with ceremony and ritual added.” LaVey as cited in Ellis, 180. For one Satanist’s appraisal of Rand's philosophy, objectivism, in relation to Satanism see Nemo, Satanism and Objectivism, http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/SatObj.html. Accessed 9/5/01. On Nietzsche and Crowley see above.

[139] There is debate over who Redbeard actually was. Most likely he was a New Zealander named Arthur Desmond (1842-1918). Anonymous, “Arthur Desmond—Ragnar Redbeard and “Might Is Right”” in Radical Tradition: An Australasian History Page, http://takver.com/history/desmonda.htm. Accessed 25/6/2001. Some, including LaVey, believe the author was Jack London (1876-1916). Shane and Amy Bugbee, The Doctor is in. http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/MFInterview.html. Accessed 13/10/2001. Still others believe that there were two distinct authors of Might is Right. Katja Lane’s preface in Ragnar Redbeard, Might is Right (St. Maries, Idaho: Fourteen Word Press, 1999), x-xi.

[140] Ibid.

[141] For longer comparisons of passages that LaVey plagiarized see: Redbeard, 1-2 and LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 30; Redbeard, 21 and LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 33; Redbeard, 34, 36 and LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 34-35.

[142] Redbeard, xx.

[143] LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 31.

[144] Redbeard, 20.

[145] LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 32.

[146] Redbeard, 20.

[147] LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 32-33.

[148] Redbeard, 20.

[149] LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 33.

[150] Ragnar Redbeard, Might is Right (Bensinville, IL: Michael Hunt, 1996).

[151] Anton LaVey as quoted in Bugbee and Bugbee.

[152] Anton LaVey as quoted in Ibid.

[153] LaVey, The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth. In LaVey’s authorized biography, Barton says that LaVey “attacks most savagely those who ride on his coattails, or who steal his ideas, all the while pretending at originality or innovation—with, at best, a begrudging acknowledgement of their inspiration’s very existence.” Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 222. LaVey’s hypocrisy here speaks for itself. Similarly, Barton speaks of those who obviously drew from LaVey’s philosophy, but “routinely give not so much credit as a notation in their bibliography.” Ibid., 14. However, most of LaVey’s books, including The Satanic Bible, don’t even have a bibliography.

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References: (What's this?)

LaVey, Anton. (1930-1997)
The Satanic Bible (1969). Published by Avon Books Inc, New York, USA. Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

© 2013 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.

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