How many Satanists are there in the UK?

#atheism #christianity #religion #satanism #UK

1893 Satanists were counted in the UK's National Census of 2011 despite "extensive coverage in the media"1 which make some suspect that numbers are higher. The number of Satanists is notoriously difficult to estimate. Most Satanic groups are informal, temporary and ad-hoc (so 'congregation' numbers cannot be counted), and the mainstream Church of Satan does not publish membership numbers. Also, many Satanists are not members of the Church of Satan. Hence, estimates of numbers of Satanists have varied wildly according to authors' imaginations and paranoias. In 2001 and 2002 I enquired at London Satanists meetings and found that only half identified themselves as a Satanist on the census. Others put "atheist" or even Christian denominations as their religion. This is a significant under-representation. As 1525 were counted in the 2001 Census, an estimate of 3050 seems sensible. Now in 2011, with slight growth in terms of percent of the population since 2001, an estimate of 3850 seems sensible2.

Book CoverAs a rule, LaVey doesn't disclose membership figures. "If it's too low, we would be perceived as insignificant, and if it was too high we'd be considered too much of a threat and there would be reason to destroy us. [...] Besides, after 25 years, it would be very difficult to calculate our membership. Members are lifetime members; they don't have to pay any renewal fees every year so we have had a cumulative increase since 1966." Tom Wedge explains this phenomenon in his 1987 book, The Satan Hunter: "However, it must be realized that the great preponderance of the followers of the Church of Satan have never formally made an effort to actually 'join' the church.

"The Secret Life of a Satanist" by Blanche Barton (1990)3

Dave Evans in 2001:

The researcher Dave Evans from the University of Bristol suspects a figure lower than my 3050 for the 2001 statistics, and humorously comments on the apparent attraction of Satanism for academics and social psychologists:

Satanists are nowhere near as populous as might be believed from fundamentalist claims, and as remarked above, if the total number of 'serious' Satanists in the UK is over 3,000 that would be hugely surprising. Fundamentalist claims otherwise are largely nonsense, only designed to create panic, based on fundamentalist notions. [...]

My own work leads me to believe that there might actually now be more academics researching occultism in general in the UK than there are Satanists practicing their version of it. Both numbers are low.

Dave Evans (2009)
In "Contemporary Religious Satanism" by Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2009)4

By Vexen Crabtree 2012 Dec 12
Originally published 2002 Mar 23
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/how_many_satanists_are_there.html
Parent page: Satanists and Satanic Community: How many are there and what are they like?

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Barton, Blanche
(1990) The Secret Life of a Satanist. Paperback book. Published in UK 1992, by Mondo, Titan Books, London, UK by arrangement with Feral Press.

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

Petersen, Jesper Aagaard
(2009) Contemporary Religious Satanism. Hardback book. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, UK. An anthology.

Footnotes

  1. "Spiritual Britain worships over 170 different faiths" article in the respectable British broadsheet The Telegraph (2004 Dec 13) by Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent.^
  2. Arrived at by doubling the official 2001 Census value based on the estimate of only a 50% disclosure rate. For the 2011 figure, I've slightly reduced the doubled figure as the reduce tenure of Christianity makes it more likely that more Satanists are admitting so on the Census.^
  3. Barton (1990) p204.^
  4. Dave Evans 'Speculating on the Point 003 Percent? Some Remarks on the Chaotic Satanic Minorities in the UK' in Petersen (2009) p212-228. PhD, University of Bristol, UK. Quote added to this page on 2010 Dec 20.^

© 2017 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.