The Devil Went Down to Annapolis

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted October 14, 2019

Years ago, many people chuckled at the country music song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” in which a young fiddler defeats the devil by virtue of his violin skills. 

But there may not be so much to laugh about at news that a group of Satanists is seeking to hold a study group at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland. Their announcement was made on October 8, just a few weeks before Halloween—a holiday that glorifies spiritism and demonic activity.

The news came out via Task & Purpose, a military-related news site, which emphasized that the Academy is not offering Satanic worship services, but rather only a study group, at this time. It seems that the midshipmen, Naval Academy students, didn’t get proper approval to conduct services, which means they can’t hold their rites on school grounds. “‘This [email invite was] sent without the review and approval of the Naval Academy’s Command Chaplain, as required by command policy,’ USNA spokeswoman Commander Alana Garas told Task & Purpose. ‘It did not represent the U.S. Naval Academy’s Command Religious Program.’”

Not Religion, But Politics

The Satanic midshipmen are aligned with a group called The Satanic Temple, which the Navy describes as “a non-theistic religious and politically active movement.” Indeed, Satanic Temple members are largely atheistic evolutionists, and the organization mostly treats Satan as a myth and as nothing more than a symbolic figure in their campaign against what they believe to be oppressive religious communities in Western culture.

And accordingly, midshipmen—like cadets at all U.S. military academies—aren’t allowed to align with such political organizations. “‘The Command Religious Program at the Naval Academy facilitates the opportunity for the free expression of diverse beliefs, but without endorsing any particular belief, [and] Midshipmen have the right to assemble to discuss their beliefs as they choose,’ Garas said. ‘But, to be clear, in accordance with Department of Defense Policy, military members will not engage in partisan political activities, and will avoid the inference that their activities may appear to imply DoD approval or endorsement of a political cause.’”

However, another media report noted that a Christian student at the academy wrote an open letter counseling caution on the question of how to respond to the proposed Satanic meeting. Should there be mass prayer? A public exorcism? No, according to this cadet: “The response should not be to call for exorcisms, protests, or any forms of direct attack. Instead, one should engage with the individuals on a personal basis and genuinely explore their beliefs. Engagement in civil dialogue and apologia is a Christian’s greatest asset.”

Author Rod Dreher, on the other hand, expressed skepticism at such a suggestion. The midshipman’s advocacy of dialogue “is almost comical in its inability to take evil seriously. Praying against this evil, both openly and privately, and stigmatizing it in every way, is exactly the correct Christian response. Note well, in this case, we’re not talking about heathens or other pagans. We are talking about Satanists.”

Of course, Dreher does not advocate violence against Satanists. And while he doesn’t believe Satanism “is a religion like every other,” he also acknowledges that there are limits as to what the government can do: “[A]s a matter of public accommodation in a pluralist polity, a liberal one in which there is a formal separation of Church and State, it is hard to see how lines can be drawn to defend society against this evil.” He concludes, “The day is coming, though, when theistic Satanists who are not involved with a politically focused form of Satanism are going to ask for the right to have their rites at the Naval Academy. What will the USNA do then?”

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Defense recognizes 221 different faith groups, including Eckankar, Heathen, Dianic Wicca, and Troth, alongside more traditional Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu communities. The “formal separation of Church and State” requires, in turn, broad recognition of individual beliefs.

A Great Controversy

Of course, all Christians should recognize that there is indeed a great battle between Christ and Satan, between good and evil. While most Satanists don’t actually believe in a devil or even that God exists, it is a tragedy that so many have such negative views of Jesus and the Christian faith, views ironically driven by pagan lore about the devil, myths that have infected and confused mainstream Christianity. 

That’s why you’ll benefit from Amazing Facts’ many materials that explore the truth about the devil. For one, our Bible Study lesson “The Rebellious Prince” examines the history of how the angel Lucifer became Satan, what he’s doing today, and what his fate will be in the last days.

Of course, religious liberty at the Naval academy and across America is a right that should be cherished by Christians and atheists alike. Pastor Doug Batchelor has said that religious freedom “a precious thing that we will someday lose.” Listen to his sermon to explore the reasons why and what we should be doing with the liberty we have today. 

What about you? What do you think should happen at the Naval Academy? What is the best response for Christians facing the rise of Satanism and its broader acceptance in our culture? Let us know in the comments below.

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