us for hundreds of years. Look at Salem!” She believes child protection workers need to adopt such thinking in order to root out perfectly normal-looking people who secretly practice demonic tortures on kids. TEXAS IS ALREADY rife with such hysteria. In El Paso in 1985, for instance, after a two=year-old child made vague comments about his body parts and several adults, DHS social workers, an assistant DA, and a police detective elaborated a case against two women daycare workers. There was virtually no evidence against the teachers, except for what small children muttered after being relentlessly interviewed and bombarded with yes-no questions detailing ritual abuse motifs. The women, Gayle Dove and Michelle Noble, were imprisoned after being convicted of sadistic sexual assault and terroristic threats which prosecutor Debra Kanof ,believed were the modus operandi of organized, diabolic sex abusers. Both women had their convictions overturned on appeal and Noble was quickly acquitted after a retrial last year. One juror suggested that a Grand Jury investigate why she was ever indicted in the first place. But many officials persist in the “international devil worshipping conspiracy” theory. One DHS worker here said recently that El Paso is filled with doctors, lawyers, and judges who secretly practice Satanism and thus railroad the state’s .abuse investigations. I have heard similar statements from a DHS worker in Houston, and -like attitudes are not uncommon among sheriffs, cops, assistant DAs, and civilians of all stripes, including everyone from bornagain Christian housewives to Jewish psychiatrists and not just in Texas, but throughout the country. . Where did these bizarre beliefs come from? Though this time around they have spread beyond the fundamentalist churches, J. Gordon Melton, an academic and director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, California, believes the Satanic conspiracy theory revives a rumor dating back to when Romans accused early Christians of ritually mutilating dead babies. Christians later leveled similar charges against Gnostics, whom they called Satan worshippers. Melton points out that Satanism is unlike other religions in that it is not passed on from parent to child; nor does it develop its own traditional literature. Instead, through the ages, Christian churches have continually generated purported “descriptions” of the evil practices and rituals of Satanists witness the rich detail supplied to interrogators and torturers during the European and American witch crazes. And apparently in a manner similar to how the Matamoros cult studied the 1987 Hollywood slasher film “The Believers” isolated groups have at times used Church instruction to learn how to be “Satanists” and kill people. Historically, a group.consistently victimized by the rumor has been Jews. Beginning in the Middle Ages, they were accused of kidnapping Christian children, ritually slaughtering them, and using their blood to make Passover matzoh. Such “blood libel” allegations occurred in Europe as late as the 19th century, sometimes in towns where no children were even missing. Resulting pogroms are still within the memory of the living. The most recent Satan hysteria doesn’t directly single out Jews as culprits at least, not yet. Arthur Lyons, author of Satan Wants You, is a longtime researcher of cults and witch hysterias. He dates the reappearance of the devil worshipping conspiracy rumor in the U.S. to the late 1970s, when various “urban myths” cropped up; among them, that Proctor & Gamble’s former moon and stars logo represented the company’s secret pact with the devil. In 1980, the trend was formalized with the book Michelle Remembers, by Michelle Smith and Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder. Smith, in therapy for severe emotional disturbance, was repeatedly hypnotized by Pazder and then “remembered” intricate details of horrible, sado-masochistic rituals she was forced into by her Satanist parents, including the killing of babies. Perhaps not surprisingly, her “memories” echoed stories of some of Sigmund Freud’s 19th-century French female “hysterics,” during Freud’s early career before he replaced hypnosis with free association. Freud, who believed his patients might actually be mystifying recall of real childhood incest, recognized the similarity of Satan memories to the testimony of religious women being exor ANDREW KEATING cised by priests. Freud was pleased that his work tended to remove descriptions of the mind from the domain and rhetoric of the Church. Both Pazder and his patient are religious Catholics, and Smith’s “memories” are not independent recollections at all, according to University of Paris psychiatric anthropologist Sherill Muihern. While studying modern-day claims of people like Smith, Muihern looked at the records of her sessions with Pazder. She found that Smith’s “memories” were constructed over a long period of time and incorporated the suggestions of Pazder. Muihern describes hypnosis as a dynamic between the hypnotizer and the hypnotizee in which it is extremely difficult for the former to avoid suggesting material. If that happens, once the patient comes out of a trance, Muihern says, he or she “will have an unshakeable belief”, , in the story constructed during the session, no matter whether it describes real events or fantasy. She believes Smith’s “memories” represent the latter. Nevertheless, Michelle Remembers, with its paeans to ‘the Virgin Mary and group; photos of Smith, Pazder, and an angel, became a bestseller. After the couple \(sans talk shows, other women began contacting the FBI with similar stories. Kenneth Lanning, the FBI agent who monitors such claims at the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit in Virginia, now gets a call a day froin women and sometimes men claiming the same thing. Despite allegations that thousands of children have been butchered by a clandestine national br worldwide Satanic network, Lanning says no claim has ever been THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.