My latest column is up on AlterNet, Why Do Many Christians Still Literally Believe in Demons and Satan? In it, I sum up the Harvard Black Mass fracas and place it in a wider context, showing how Pope Francis and the Catholic church are pushing a major revival of belief in the demonic. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:
The Harvard Satanist fracas shows the immense hypocrisy of the Catholic church and its spokesmen. In their battle against the contraception mandate, they’ve made religious liberty their watchword, arguing that a believer’s right to follow the tenets of his faith is sacrosanct and must never be infringed, even if it causes harm or inconvenience to others. But when it comes to a belief system that the church doesn’t like, they claim, two-faced, that those beliefs can and should be stifled and their practice barred.
The other, more surprising thing it shows is how unreformed this faith still is. Catholic apologists claim theirs is a rational religion shaped by the light of philosophy, but scratch the surface and you’ll find that the ancient, superstitious fear of the dark is very much alive. Several hundred years after the scientific revolution, the church still subscribes to the belief that the cosmos is swarming with evil spirits, ready to harm human beings who attract their attention.