The other day, I ran across a mention of John Ramirez. He’s trying his very best to bring back the Satanic Panic, y’all! Today, I’ll show you his testimony, and outline why it appeals to Christians so much–but also why it raises suspicions.
Everyone, Say Hi to John Ramirez.
John Ramirez is totally an ex-Satanist. He shills his story to gullible Christians looking for thrills and chills. His biography page tells us that he “was trained to be a satanic cult (Santeria and Spiritualist) high ranking priest in New York City.” From there, he “controll[ed] entire regions.”
As one does, he “grew up despising his father,” who sounds like he neglected Ramirez’ family. After being rescued from “the cold, harsh streets of the South Bronx” by “a new ‘family’ of witches and warlocks,” he found himself “groomed to become a high priest in their occult religion.” Apparently at some point he “sold his soul to the devil” in a “blood-soaked ritual.” Afterward, as someone at “the highest levels of the occult,” he hung out at bars and nightclubs to find new recruits for the cult, because obviously high-ranking members of the occult have to do that all the time.
Then he totally had a magic dream, y’all, and converted to TRUE CHRISTIANITY™. ZOMG!
This guy is a holdover of the Satanic Panic, that conspiracy theory that swept America in the 1980s and 1990s. He ticks all of the boxes for it. We’ll talk next time about specifics of that conspiracy theory and where it’s going. For today, we’ll just look at his testimony.
Fact-Checking a Satanic Panicker.
John Ramirez makes what appears to be a decent living telling his testimony. Indeed, he appears on a variety of fundagelical TV shows to lie to Christians about his past. Below, I link one of his many videos.
YouTube, published October 29, 2014. The blurb under it is a howler.
Hilariously, the video begins with a Bible quote from Ephesians 5:11: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
Why, I do believe I shall expose him!
This task often falls to non-Christians, by the way. Alas, Christians themselves rarely care about whether their heroes’ testimonies are actually true.
The Law of Conservation of Worship.
In the first scene, we see Ramirez on a city street in front of a shop. The shop sells various religious-themed merchandise. He explains that statues of Jesus, Mary, and the Archangel Michael aren’t really those figures. Instead, he insists that these figures are “idols.” Then, he stammers about Santería. He gestures to a weird display and tells us that a knife-filled object is a caldero. Excitedly and disjointedly, he explains that “this is the tabernacle of the devil.”
(This really super-disjointed way of speaking will not improve. For someone who earns a living telling stories, he is very bad at it. He repeats himself often and makes ludicrous assertions constantly. The disjointed word-salad speech continues throughout the video. Mr. Captain and I had a running and free-ranging debate throughout the video about exactly which drugs might produce this way of speaking.)
According to Wikipedia, the caldero figures prominently in Palo, a religion that is not Santería. Palo adherents consecrate their own caldero, which they then consider to be inhabited by a dead person’s spirit. This spirit then functions as a guide to the adherent who owns that caldero.
Then the documentary cuts to radical righteous guitar riffs, DUDES. But the music bodes poorly.
A Typical NYC Upbringing.
Ramirez begins by explaining that he witnessed a great many murders in his youth. In fact, he asserts that “to survive in the streets of the South Bronx,” people must become murderers.
Now, obviously fundagelicals–many of whom live in the Bible Belt, meaning the Deep South and flyover states–already think that New York City is terrifying. And yes, that area does suffer from crime. If you just want to talk about murder itself, then the Bronx saw 14 murders in 2016. By contrast, Mobile, Alabama had 41 murders in the same year. Kansas City had 201, while New Orleans had 176.
Now, NYC as a whole had 335 murders in 2016. And the Bronx does sound like a rough part of NYC. It just doesn’t sound as bad as this guy’s saying it is. Chicago sounds way worse with its 762 murders that year. As bad as NYC’s murders sound, if we go by population, suddenly it doesn’t sound quite so bad.
I suppose Ramirez needs to start with some big emotional hooks, and the idea of a child growing up in such a dire situation would tug at a lot of people’s heartstrings.
They LIVED on WITCHCRAFT, YO.
At 1:54, Ramirez tells us that his family was all “witches and warlocks” and that they “lived on witchcraft.” He claims that his family “had a contract direct with the devil himself.” Further, he says he witnessed demonic spirits coming into his home, his father worshiping them, and his father “speaking in demonic tongues.” By the time he was seven years old, he says he was “going to witchcraft church” to be “trained to be a warlock.”
These generational claims are painfully common in Satanic Panic testimonies. In reality, anybody who tells you their family has totally been witches for generations is either deceived themselves or lying about it. People invented Wicca around World War II. It’s possible this guy is talking about Palo or Santería, but even so it’s hard to imagine them “training” a little kid like he’s describing.
Wanna bet we never find out the name of this “witchcraft church,” any more than we’ll ever learn the specific names of any of the murder victims he claims to have been close to as a kid?
Spoiler alert: We will not.
That First Contract With the Devil.
After getting ignored by a preacher one day, the ten-year-old Ramirez decides that he is very angry at “Jesus” for being like his neglectful father. (So far, we haven’t heard what made his father so neglectful. The family simply sounds very poor, so far.) While playing in school shortly afterward, he says that he heard a “whoosh” noise and a colorful “voodoo necklace” fell to the ground in front of him. This, he tells us very solemnly, was his first “contract with the devil.”
But contracts require consent and two-way agreement. This wasn’t a contract. If it happened as he describes, an idea which I am not conceding, then it sounds way more like a gift–or marching orders.
Incidentally, I’m sure we’ll all be shocked to learn that voodoo necklaces are not used in the manner Ramirez describes. At most, I found a reference to a collier, a necklace given to new initiates in the religion. In other places, I saw references to it that made it sound like a mark of rank in voodoo groups. (Interestingly, that Witchvox article connects the collier very explicitly to the Satanic Panic!)
But the boy Ramirez, having neither been initiated into voodoo nor serving any rank at all within it, considers this necklace a valid contract. He wears it, because obviously that’s what anybody would do after seeing mysterious jewelry fall from the sky.
ZOMG SATAN SHOWED UP!
Then, he says he went to a tarot card reader. This shill convinced his mother that if she didn’t give her a LOT of money, Ramirez would lose his eyesight. His mother scrimped and sold her furnishings to give the predatory tarot reader the money. Then, Ramirez tells us, he was initiated into voodoo.
In fact, he tells us that the Devil himself, Ol’ Scratch, showed up to accept the offerings being made. He claims that the people there placed five necklaces, representing “principalities of demons,” around his neck. Elsewhere, Kerr Cuhulain tells us more about these five necklaces. They do not in fact represent demons. In fact, the necklaces represent protective spirits, and they are given to initiates normally. About the only thing Ramirez gets correct here is that the five necklaces are a Santería thing.
Naturally, he never tells us who this tarot reader was. Nor will he reveal exactly where this initiation occurred, nor who was present, nor what Satan looked like.
Ramirez tells us that his childhood was “stolen” from him. Unnamed persons apparently forced him “to go to demon church from 7 in the evening till 5 in the morning.” There, “witches and warlocks” trained him. He does not describe how this fit together with compulsory education.
As a result of this hardcore training, which sounds like rote memorization more than anything else, he learned to “astrally project” his spirit from his body. Using this MAGYCKAL POWAH, he cursed everyone he could. Cursing involved summoning the “spirits” of prostitution, murder, suicide, homosexuality, and drug abuse to the area. (Yes, because obviously the Bronx super-needed a tween warlock’s help to encourage prostitution and drug abuse there.) By 15 or 16 years of age, he tells us, he was astrally wandering around hospitals and “putting death in the ICUs.”
I strongly suspect he will never talk about turning himself in to the police for having killed all those people in the hospitals. Nor will he ever offer evidence supporting his claims–no names, dates, places, or anything else. His goal? Nothing less than becoming “the biggest devil worshiper in New York City.”
NEW YORK CITY?!?
I don’t know what seems worse, really: that fundagelicals always come up with these picayune goals, or that the rest of them seem so impressed by these obviously wackadoodle stories.Along the way, he claims that he asked Satan to kill his father, and he insists that Satan agreed to do it. While at a nightclub, his father got shot. He died at the age of 33.
The Son of Satan.
I’ve heard dozens of these testimonies, and even so, it never fails to amaze me that Christians take any of them seriously. We’re at 8:30 now, and Ramirez is stammering about how he totally saw Satan in the flesh all the time. They’d sit and chat as he worked his way up the ranks of devil worshipers.
Still eager to be Satan’s all-time favorite, Ramirez began haunting nightclubs to find recruits to devil worship. He made a little money telling fortunes and whatnot, but he also made recruitment pitches–just like Christians do! ZOMG!
He was also, he reveals, slaughtering animals all the time and drinking their blood–and cutting his own flesh and drinking the blood. Nobody gave him trouble. He claims that doctors, lawyers, and famous entertainers were all part of his group–but he doesn’t name any of them. Their main goals: fighting Christianity and trying to destroy churches in the area, and recruiting people.
Our edgelord finally tells us that he married a fellow “witch” on Halloween one year. The wedding theme was, of course, totally gothic. He declares that actual human beings were way too scared of his 3DGIN3SS to come celebrate, so they had demons for guests. ZOMG 3DGY. The happy couple had a daughter in short order.
His Very First Human Sacrifice, Almost.
Shortly after his child was born, he tells us that Satan demanded that he sacrifice a human being to prove he loves him. (Because obviously the Christian god never ever ever asks people to do ghastly things to demonstrate their devotion!) Alas, the man escaped before Ramirez could do the deed.
While telling this story, he shows the camera operator graffiti that he claims depicts demons. This is the demon he says runs the Gates of Hell.
He points out various demons in the graffiti on that wall, including one that he says “runs Haiti.”
But Never Fear, Y’all.
Then he says (12:27) that his magic and curses could not work against someone “who had a real relationship with Jesus Christ.” See? TRUE CHRISTIANS™ were always safe!
Me personally, when I heard that same belligerent claim as a teenager, it made me immediately decide to join Christianity. Yes, indeed. Biff had already converted but I resisted the idea of re-joining–all the way until some pagans told me that Satan had overcome their spells. I knew that Jesus > Satan, so if Satan > pagan magic, then obviously I should dedicate myself to the most powerful spirit of them all.
It’s hard to imagine a kid as focused on power as this one says he was who would do anything different. If TRUE CHRISTIANS™ could overcome his very worst sorcery, then obviously they had more power than he did. So why was he faffing about with Satan?
Alas, he didn’t even think about abandoning his “daddy” Satan. He continued to use his magical powers to inflict death, insanity, miscarriages (he calls these “abortions”) and leprosy on NYC residents. (Incidentally, NYC does see some leprosy cases each year–just not many. Of course, Ramirez never tells us the names of anybody he afflicted.)
Demons, Demons Everywhere.
For some time in the video, this liar-for-Jesus wanders around a spiritual store in the Bronx while playing to the cameraman and explaining how pretty much everything there is demonic. Watching him running at the mouth like a tweaker is fast becoming my everything.
Just everything he describes sounds so wackadoodle. At 22:15, he describes a ritual involving him swallowing blood and gunpowder. I see something vaguely similar in a book describing the magic rituals performed by Chinese triad members. But this specific combination doesn’t appear anywhere else that I can see.
He’s real big on describing “demon church,” but never tells us what it was called specifically, nor who officiated there. He also insults Christians constantly by comparing his “demon church” members with Christians. “Demon church” members prayed more, attended “demon church” more, and had a better relationship with “daddy” Satan than Christians ever seemed willing to do.
STEP UP THERE, CHRISTIANS, YOU’RE FALLING BEHIND THESE NONEXISTENT IMAGINARY SATANISTS!
Ramirez stuffs his testimony full of testable claims–for example, the one at 23:00 where he tells us that Satan got pissy at him for wanting a holiday so blinded him for a whole year. He needed to use a cane and was readying for a seeing-eye dog, he says. But then he “gave my life back to the devil” and after some “*garbled* surgery,” he magically got his eyesight back.
If you’re wondering if he’ll show any evidence that he was in fact blinded and then got his eyesight back, like doctors’ reports, then you must be new here.
One night, while watching Jerry Springer, he says he heard an audible voice telling him that he was coming soon. He says it wasn’t Satan or any other demons, because he knew all of them. This voice belonged to someone else.
WHO COULD IT POSSIBLY BE….
Oh, who are we kidding. Obviously it was Jesus, and he took Ramirez into Hell for a minute to let him sight-see before it was too late. If you’re wondering, dead people take a subway train to Hell. Oh, New Yorkers, never change.
Ramirez goes into lavish detail about this vision of Hell he says he experienced. (I keep wondering if Jerry Springer knows this happened during one of his shows.) While he was “there,” Satan got totally mad at him for betraying him. But before Satan could grab him, a cross came down between them. He ran through Hell trying to find an escape, while Satan chased him around.
Amid manufactured tears, he describes how this giant cross showed up a second time to protect him from Satan in Hell.
When he awoke from this vision, he decided to convert to Christianity and ended all his witchcraft activities.
Now He’s Hunted by His Former Pals.
Of course, demons “tormented me for thirty days,” he says. His former witchcraft pals wanted to kill him, and demons tried to drive him insane.
When he asked his new god some time later why he was allowing all of this torment to happen, his god said he just wanted to see how much Ramirez loved and trusted him. (Awww, just like an abusive partner! And just like Satan earlier!) After that confrontation, he says no demons bothered him further.
This conversion appears to have happened somewhere around 2000. He became an evangelist right after his conversion and has been one ever since.
He doesn’t mention what happened to his witchy wife, but he says his daughter converted to Christianity. Epilogue text tells us that he joined NYC’s Times Square Church. There, he was discipled by fellow liar-for-Jesus and failed prophet David Wilkerson (who wrote The Cross and the Switchblade) until Wilkerson’s death in 2011.
Conjobs hold each other up and make nets out of each other for support. In similar fashion, we find Jim Bakker referring to Ramirez himself as totally an ex-Satanist who converted.
What Probably Really Happened.
John Ramirez describes at one point how important spiritualism shops are to the area where he once lived. It sounds like many families like his live in that area in quiet desperation, a fingernail’s breadth from starvation and homelessness. And a great many spiritualists of various kinds prey upon those families–like that tarot card reader.
It sounds to me like he got caught up in that spiritualism. He uses just enough phrases and terms from Santería, Palo, and voodoo to make me think he does have some small familiarity with these religions. Likely he did get involved kind of young with it, though I absolutely do not believe he went to “demon church” for upwards of 10 hours a night during years in which he should have been in school.
Most of what he describes sounds like he conceptualizes it in a metaphorical sense. He never gives any concrete details about what Satan looked like or sounded like. I mean, it’s not like I’d believe him, but he never even tries. He never reveals the names or locations of these other Satan worshipers, nor talks about going to the police to report all these murders they’re committing (even if by astral projection).
One gets the distinct impression that all of this stuff he describes happened only in the realm of his very active imagination.
But he doesn’t specify that fact, and it’s very clear that his fans think he’s talking literally.
Late to the Party.
Now, a great many Christians remain unpersuaded by John Ramirez’s wild claims. But that hasn’t stopped Ramirez from peddling his pathetic story with breathless conviction. Dude’s been busy these past few years.
Mostly his message consists of trying to scare the pants off Christians who might be considering Halloween just another fun holiday for their families. He tells them that demons are totally for realsies, and that celebrating the Devil’s favorite day will “CURSE” their families, all caps.
And terror sells well with today’s Christians. His message hits all the high notes we expect out of a Satanic Panic holdover. He might have arrived very late to the party, but he clearly hopes to get the ruckus started up a second time.
NEXT UP: Are they seriously…? Yes, I think they seriously are. They’re trying to restart the Satanic Panic. From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night–we’ll look at Christians’ fascination with it all, and examine if it’s possible to restart a moral panic that’s been over for almost thirty years. See you soon!
Please Support What I Do!
If you like what you see here, I would love to have your support. My PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s an underscore in there) for one-time tips. I also welcome monthly patrons via Patreon with Roll to Disbelieve. Thanks so much!