[Editor’s Note: Please welcome Dana Corby to the Agora! Dana’s column, The Rantin’ Raven, will be published on the first and third Saturdays of a month; subscription links are below. Welcome, Dana!]
Jason Mankey’s article on May 15 goes into considerable detail about the infamous Bill Schnoebelen and his book, “Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie.” I actually met Bill Schoebelen in person, and learned something few other people know for sure: He’s fully aware that he’s lying. So are the people close to him.
November 30, 1993, four other Witches and I were invited by Seattle radio station KIRO to talk about Witchcraft and Halloween. Being idealistic idiots, we jumped at the chance. But when we got there, the producer informed us that, in order for there to be ‘balance’ in the presentation, they were having a couple of pastors on as well. Who were they, we asked. Bill Schnoebelen and his mentor, Ed Decker. We’d been had.
We immediately went into a huddle. We were furious at the station. Did we even want to spend half an hour in the same room with these creeps, we asked each other. But if we didn’t, they’d not only be free to spread their lies but would be sure to assume – and spread – that we were afraid to face a couple of ‘true Christians.’ In the end, one person decided she couldn’t do it but the rest of us went through with it, feeling very much like we were entering the lion’s den.
Things started out OK. Everyone got introduced and the moderator had each of us tell a little about ourselves. She asked questions about the history of Halloween. So far so good. Some general discussion about the differences between witchcraft and Wicca, between Halloween and Samhain. Even Decker, by far the nastier of the two, behaved himself.
And then the moderator allowed Schnoebelen to plug his new book, which he did by reading the introductory paragraphs in which he claimed that one of his common activities as a Wiccan High Priest was to “cruise the back alleys of downtown Seattle at midnight, looking for a woman whose blood I could drink.”
We were stunned. We were even more stunned when the moderator cut to a commercial. Bill Schoebelen looked us Witches in the face, WINKED, for Pete’s sake, and with a conspiratorial grin said “Of course, we all know that last part isn’t true. I just put it in to get people to listen to my witnessing later.” As if this was a perfectly normal and OK thing to do!
I wish I could tell you that we denounced him the moment we were back on the air. I can’t. We were completely taken aback, and the moderator gave us no chance: she immediately turned to the youngest of us and began asking his opinion on a different matter. By the time we got it together enough to formulate something to say, the show was over and we were out the studio door, upon which our worthy opponents dropped all pretext of good manners. Dirty looks and muttered remarks were cast our way as they went to collect their mousy wives, who’d been sent to the greenroom for the duration. I happened to turn and find myself nose-to-nose with Mrs. Decker, who recoiled and snarled, “I’m not going to shake your hand!” “I don’t want you to,” I replied, which inexplicably offended her. They all sailed out of the studio offices looking self-satisfied.
I still feel like an idiot for letting the radio station do that to us. I should have talked right over the moderator and told the listeners what Schnoebelen had said. But we knew damn well the station had set the situation up in hopes of a nice, ratings-boosting fight, and we’d decided beforehand not to give it to them. To make up for it, I tell the true story every chance I get.
Bill Schnoebelen is a liar and knows it. He has betrayed his oaths to every religious or spiritual order he ever joined, abandoning each one as he found another where he could exert ever more influence over ever more people. When he joined Decker’s “Saints Alive in Jesus” cult he found the audience and mentor he needed to fulfill his ego’s need for adulation.
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