by Lorette C. Luzajic
Part 15 of the Pillars of Faith series
As kids, we loved the devil. Satan was the topic in youth ministry that didn’t make us nod off. The apocalypse might keep us awake, too — white horses and dragons made good fantasy reading that was otherwise forbidden. But devil stories were better. A pastor’s son had been “dabbling” in horoscopes, putting the family at risk of demon possession! One morning, he was shaving when the neighbor’s cat began talking to him from the window.
I was oblivious to the horror trends of the era, films where talking cats were a dime a dozen. Later, I heard the story again… and again. It was a standard and legal justification for execution in the witch burning trials, proof that the devil was pussyfooting around.
When Mike Warnke shared his lurid past as an army brat, drug addict and high priest of Satan, we were mesmerized. Mike’s book, The Satan Seller was in high demand. Kidnapped into the church of Satan after being shot, Warnke was saved by Jesus Christ. He came clean about baby sacrifices, summoning evil spirits, orgiastic perversions, rapes, Illuminati conspiracies, very long fingernails, ritual slayings, and magic spells. Mike, who billed himself a “Christian comedian,” put out spoken word albums about his conversion and about the dangers of Halloween, among other things, selling millions of books and records. Warnke was by far the coolest testament to Christ’s awesome powers. Defying the powers of darkness, he told his story to Oprah, Larry King, and more.
More than mere witness for Jesus, Warnke was internationally renown as the foremost authority on Satanism and the occult. He was a trusted advisor in law enforcement on Satanic crime and ritual abuse.
Celebrations of Dope
Pullquote: Journalists Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein ran some background checks and Warnke’s story tumbled like a house of cards.
Today he continues to save souls with his ministry Celebrations of Hope. He looks more like a bishop in his white clerical robes than the freewheeling Jesus biker of his youth — and that’s because he IS a bishop. Sort of. Ordained by an independent priest into the Byzantine Catholic tradition, Warnke is not your average evangelist.
But then, no one knows just who or what Warnke is. Testimonials on his website refer to his honesty, integrity, humility, and humor. Yet the man can’t seem to “keep the story straight” from one book to another. Does he have two BAs or a PhD? How many times was he injured in Vietnam? When did he become a Christian? And how many wives has he had?
In 1992, Cornerstone, a Christian publication, said The Satan Seller was the source most responsible for the “Satan scare” that was in vogue those past few decades. Journalists Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein ran some background checks and Warnke’s story tumbled like a house of cards.
Black Mass with Manson
Pullquote: All his friends and colleagues said he was lying.
Speaking to over 100 friends and colleagues, not one of them could verify strange behavior, track marks or wounds, or any other clues to Mike’s past. Everyone said he was lying. The calendar of full moon rituals didn’t even match up, and neither did other dates. A ritual with Charles Manson was quite the black magic: for Manson was at that time in jail. Claims of missing bodies thrown in dumpsters did not match any records.
Mike had asked friends to sign an authenticity affidavit for his book, but they refused, saying it was all bull. Pictures from the peak of Warnke’s Satan worship days showed a conservative nerd, not a strung out longhair with six inch fingernails. Mike’s involvement as a high priest of Beelzebub was limited to one or two Ouija sessions as a kid and possibly some rock n’ roll air guitar.
Far worse than tall tales, former wife Carolyn spoke freely about Mike beating the living hell out of her.
Backmasking for Jesus
Pullquote: I think we’re safer listening to Led Zeppelin backwards that Mike Warnke straight up.
In response to the dismantling of this ministry, Warnke said Satan was at work again. He stated that maybe he had “embellished” certain scenes to get the message across. One example was that the coven of 1,500 had only 13 members, a difference hardly worth mentioning. Mike stood by his story, saying it had happened exactly as described.
He was already in trouble with the IRS for tax evasion and misuse of ministry funds. Word Records dropped him as his lies caught up to him. There was no way out, so finally Mike confessed he had acted ungodly towards his wives and been a failure to others. But he would not turn his back on Satan — the story stands to this day, despite the complete lack of evidence and the multitude of holes.
I think we’re safer listening to Led Zeppelin backwards that Mike Warnke straight up.
But perhaps Mike really was in the hands of the devil. Jesus himself said, “You belong to your father the devil… because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Lorette C. Luzajic writes about all kinds of interesting people at Fascinating People.