And all his works and pomps

According to the National Center for Reason and Justice, Francis Keller has been released from a Texas prison.

Since 1993, Keller has been serving a 48-year sentence for a crime that she did not commit. Worse than that, she has spent the past 20 years in prison for a crime that never happened.

Fran Keller

Fran and Dan Keller ran a child-care center in Oak Hill, Texas. They were accused, and convicted, of Satanic ritual abuse. We know they were innocent of this charge because:

1. The child they were convicting of abusing, who was then 3 years old, has since said that no abuse occurred and that she was repeating the accusations she’d been coached and instructed to deliver.

2. No physical or medical evidence suggests any abuse ever took place and no physical evidence was ever found of the graves in which the Kellers allegedly buried young children alive after baptizing them in blood.

3. Satanic ritual abuse does not exist.

Yet Fran Keller was sent to prison for 20 years because of an imaginary crime committed against non-existent victims.


I can’t believe this was the result of well-meaning people who were just trying to protect children from people they sincerely believed were a threat.

“All I care about, my passion, is helping survivors of child abuse,” says Australian “advocate” Liz Mullinar. But Mullinar also claims to have helped more than 500 people who were victims of Satanic ritual abuse. That story isn’t from 1983 or from 1993. That story is from today, in 2013. And it’s all terribly familiar — the spectral evidence of “recovered memories,” the implication that the lack of evidence of the alleged massive conspiracy of Satanists is somehow proof of their power, etc.

But a “passion” for helping survivors or for protecting children won’t produce the lurid fantasies of grisly, bizarre rituals that we’ve been hearing ever since this moral panic began in the 1980s. Those fantasies in all their horrid detail had to be imagined, invented, disseminated and embellished — and that process doesn’t seem like anything that would arise from a motive of helping survivors or of protecting real children from real dangers.

This isn’t about protecting children or saving babies. It’s just fantasy role-playing — the sensation of imaginary heroism that comes from battling imaginary monsters.

Do you renounce the Satanic baby-killers and all their works and pomps?

No. Nothing good can come from renouncing that which does not exist. Defining oneself in opposition to imaginary evils only leads to real evils and real injustices.


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The Satanic baby-killers of London
How the ‘Hobby Lobby’ court invites religious hucksterism
Here, at last, is our 2016 campaign/’Too Many Cooks’ mashup
  • AnonymousSam

    I think the real question is whether or not you show the proper support against burning kittens. We’re part of a small movement consisting of a minority of the nation’s population, heavily persecuted and reviled for our beliefs, and you can show your support if you just open your heart and wallet…

  • Veleda_k

    Hell, even kitten burning has one on Satanic abuse. Kitten burning actually happens sometimes.

    (I get your meaning, of course. But the absurdity of the situation is striking to me.)

  • AnonymousSam

    Tribalism achieved by drawing a line between people and ascribing ever more vile attributes to them, until it spirals out of control and there is only the evil, now thoroughly permuting those rallying their tribe, and yet another person to fail the C.S. Lewis test…

    Jesus weeps.

  • Chris Doggett

    This is where the hard left rationist wing, the Internet Asshole Atheist Brigade, draws some of it’s bile from.
    Critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and parsimony (Occam’s razor) lead you to reject claims of Satanic ritual abuse. These are the tools of science, looking for testible hypothesis, rejecting fanciful explanations in favor of simpler ones consistent with existing knoweldge.
    What Mullinar uses, her epistemeology and methodology, are quite different:
    ‘‘For me, because this is my truth, I’m not going to deny it because it sounds just too bizarre,’
    Abuse victims at her organization could become “volunteer carers”.
    ‘‘We don’t do counselling here. This is not a psychiatric hospital.’’

    Accepting convoluted, improbable explanations without evidence? That’s just a fancy way of saying “taking something on faith”.
    Having victims who hears about SRA claims become “carers” to others to repeat those claims? That’s not confirmation bias, that’s evangelizing. (Sorry Fred, but to these folks, they are “sharing the good news”)
    It’s a tragedy for all involved, including Ms. Mullinar, whose own religious upbringing & philosophy has literally left her unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.

  • Cuniraya, Antichrist

    Having faith and sharing the good news is fine, but this is not the same thing. Imprisoning two people on false claims, destroying any chance at livelihood, and even damaging their family’s reputation are far more malicious than misguided faith. We can pity the poor people that are wrapped up in these delusions, but she’s part of an industry that profits on those delusions and the misery it sows. They should pay (financially to the victims) for the suffering they’ve created.

  • damanoid

    That this should happen in 20th century America; that it should continue into 21st century America…

    I see that her husband is set to be released next week. I can’t imagine how a couple starts to put their lives back together after two decades of wrongful imprisonment, but I hope they succeed. I also hope they sue until the statue of Justice at the Texas Supreme Court is not only blind but also deaf, limbless and bald.

    Also, way to fucking hedge your lede, Texas Public Radio:

    Keller has spent the last 20 years behind bars for a crime that many say never even happened.

    Next week’s story: “Today the Kellers received a phone call from Barack Obama, a man who many say is the President.”

  • Laurent Weppe


    Because an unacountable judiciary will do anything it can to protect its reputation, including deliberatly putting innocents in prison, then spending decades lying about their prisoners’ guilt, then spending more decades playing dumb and pretending that they “honestly” did not realize that their prisoners were innocent, until the accumulation of gross injustices and blatant corruption push the population over the edge and judges’ murderers get hailed as revolutionary heroes…

    Which is why judiciaries should not be unacountable to begin with.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    But a “passion” for helping survivors or for protecting children won’t produce the lurid fantasies of grisly, bizarre rituals that we’ve been hearing ever since this moral panic began in the 1980s.
    I suspect some of the Juicy Juicy details are the Concerned Activists’ way of getting their porn fix while still appearing “respectable”.
    “I SEE Things…”
    – Mark Driscoll, Gigachurch Pastor/Dictator
    And it goes way back. The Dominican who wrote the Malleus Malefacarium (the handbook for Witchfinders-General during the Burning Times) wrote his own demon-slash-witch sexual fantasies into a LOT of the book (and seemed to have been obsessed with the subject).
    P.S. I was heavily into Dee & Dee when the Satanic Panic (and Recovered Memories) hit. You can guess the rest. Thank you Mike Warnke, Constance Cumby, Johanna Michaelson, John Todd, Bob Larson….

  • Laurent Weppe

    the hard left rationist wing, the Internet Asshole Atheist Brigade, draws some of it’s bile from

    Funny that: I’ve always pictured atheists assholes whose worldview can be summarized as “We’re smarter than the religious rubes, therefore we should be entitled to lord over them as being radically right-wing randologist libertarians.

    Then agains, the ideological differences between old school leninism and randologism are minuscule to begin with.

  • Lorehead

    From the link: why am I not surprised that the head of the Satanic conspiracy that secretly controls the government was “a mysterious Dr. Greenbaum, [...] a young turncoat from the Nazi death camps who saved his own life by giving the Nazis the secrets to the cabala”?

  • damanoid

    And it goes way back. The Dominican who wrote the Malleus Malefacarium
    (the handbook for Witchfinders-General during the Burning Times) wrote
    his own demon-slash-witch sexual fantasies into a LOT of the book (and
    seemed to have been obsessed with the subject).

    Wait, are you implying that the chapter about whether it is possible for Satan or his witches to render a man’s virile member invisible might contain factual inaccuracies?

  • AnonymousSam

    If they bother with that much.

    This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

    —Justice Scalia

  • Launcifer

    I’m just waiting for someone to “reveal” that he was related to Norman Greenbaum and that Spirit in the Sky was an attempt to introduce Satanism into the cultural mainstream via the medium of gospel rock music because… eh, I can’t even finish the sentence it’s that stupid.

    And yet, I have a creeping suspicion that, were I to voice the notion on a certain American – ahem – News channel, then far too many people would give it credence. As a non-American (and I know we’re often no better on my side of the Atlantic), things like that just scare the ever-loving shit right out of me.

  • damanoid

    (raises hand at back of class)

    Um, Frau She-Wolf? If the Jews had the secrets of the cabala, why did they let themselves be put in death camps?

  • GDwarf

    Ah yes, ‘Justice’ “Innocence is no defence” Scalia. How warped must your view of jurisprudence be to allow you to make such a statement?

  • PurpleAardvaark

    It would be comforting to believe that this could only happen in Texas which teems with nutcases of every stripe and specializes in electing them to Congress and the White House. But it could just as easily happen in any community where people are predisposed to believe in satanic rituals and get whipped up by a persuasive speaker.

  • MaryKaye

    It happened in Washington State as well, in Wenatchee. I hear that the last people unjustly imprisoned as a result were recently set free, thanks to a group of volunteers based at UW–bless them.

    I’d like to think the cultural differences between Wenatchee and Seattle mean it wouldn’t happen here. But I don’t know that for a fact. I know that here in Seattle being a Pagan was a near-complete barrier to adopting via DSHS (we had to go to a private agency, after wasting two years).

  • Lorehead

    These are people who believe the Satanic conspiracy not only has supernatural powers from Satan himself, but controls the government too. And yet Francis Keller let herself be arrested.

  • P J Evans

    McMartin Preschool, in Los Angeles. The whole bit, with ‘recovered memories’ of ‘ceremonies’.

  • P J Evans

    I knew a gay couple – married now – who were trying to adopt two of their foster children. The system kept ‘losing’ paperwork, and it took two years to get the adoption though, by which time the older kid had ‘aged out’ of the system. One of the social workers stuck them in a foster home in the next county, as ‘good Christian family’ that used the foster-care stipend for their own kids (among other things I heard about them).