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Film / Hail Satan?

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Hail Satan? is a 2019 documentary directed by Penny Lane. It follows the rise of the Satanic Temple, which started to sarcastically praise then-Governor of Florida Rick Scott for his support of school prayer but then grew into a legitimate religious group supporting progressive causes and religious pluralism with a devious sense of humor.


  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked as the Satanists have a very different view of Satan from Christians, as you might expect. In their view, he's an icon of freedom (they don't believe Satan exists literally) and they view the story where Eve is tempted by Satan (per common interpretation) differently too, seeing this as starting human enlightenment to reject God as an oppressor.
  • Baphomet: As part a of a protest against religion in the public space the Satanic Temple created a statue of Baphomet to display alongside a stone copy of the ten commandments that was placed outside a government building in Arizona. As a reminder that America is not a nation with only one religion, the iconography of other religions must be allowed.
  • Corrupt Church: A reason many Satanists cited for joining was disillusionment with their previous churches, and a desire to protest the corruption in churches, such as hiding the misdeeds of clergy members.
  • Dirty Communists: The film discusses one reason for the change to the Pledge of Allegiance adding the phrase "Under God" in 1954 was in reaction to the Red Scare of the 1950s and in response to widespread fears of communism since the United States wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from the atheist communist state. Shortly after this the phrase "In God we Trust" was also put onto American money.
  • Double Standard: It's pointed out many many times that Christian denominations enjoy privileges due to being the majority religion in America that many other religions don't, such as being able to put up iconography of their religion in government and public locations, hold prayers on public radio, and hold public services without protest or resistance.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Christians shown in the film clearly can't stand that the Satanists even exist or take action against them, due to association with the archenemy per Christian doctrine (even when it's symbolic for them) and the wider Hollywood Satanism trope.
  • Hollywood Satanism: This is discussed at length, and an obvious source of the hatred the Satanists face. Though they do not even worship Satan (as it's a symbolic thing for them) people's idea of Satanists as sacrificing or raping children due to the Satanic Panic along with general Christian animus colors their perception heavily.
  • Hypocrite: Satanists note that while the Catholic Church in Boston protests at their having a black mass (a ritual mocking Catholic mass) privately, they are guilty of far worse, having covered up mass child sexual abuse. Further, they're repeatedly accused of being a hate group by Christians who clearly despise the Satanists for existing.
  • Insult Backfire: At one speech, a heckler tells the Satanist speaking he's going to Hell. The guy agrees and says that he's very excited (though it's obviously sarcasm, given they don't believe in this).
  • Nay-Theist: Averted. The Satanic Temple does not believe in a literal God or Satan, instead seeing Satan as a symbol of rebellion.
  • Religion of Evil: Many who protest the Satanic Temple's actions claim them to be this.
  • Satan Is Good: Obviously, as it's a documentary exploring the origins of the Satanic Temple and Satanism as a religion. In the film, many members explain that to them Satan represents a symbol of rebellion and the desire to not submit to the dominant culture.
  • Satanic Panic: Discussed and defied. The panic over Satanism in the 80s via things such as Dungeons & Dragons and heavy metal music is compared to a witch hunt, and it did legitimately ruin people's lives. It's pointed out most people accused of Satanism at the time were not Satanists at all.
  • The Theocracy: Satanists see themselves as fighting this being established in the US, with Christian symbols or prayers monopolizing public spaces, which violates the First Amendment, and protests they stage aim to combat this (along with lawsuits when necessary). It's hard to argue with the fact that the Christians they're facing want this or something like it given they often proclaim the US is a Christian nation (which a historian notes has never been the case), and want to enshrine Christianity in the government by various means.
  • Troll: A historian specializing in Satanism posits this is really its essence in modern times, as a way to enrage fundamentalist Christians and undermine their efforts at eroding secular government. The Satanic Temple in the film, like many Satanists, don't actually believe in Satan and just use him as a symbol of freedom, being atheists who oppose Christian fundamentalism while advocating secularism. A lot of their specific actions fall into trolling, like putting up statues of Baphomet when Christians have the Ten Commandments displays, the black mass and ritually turning Fred Phelps' mother into a lesbian as a takeoff from Mormon belief.