The Satanic Panic of the 80’s

March 6, 2024

Introduction: A Sheltered Upbringing in the Heart of Evangelicalism

Growing up in the 1980s, my world was painted in shades of black and white, with a strict adherence to the tenets of evangelical Christianity. Bible study was a nightly ritual, church attendance was non-negotiable, and my mother would speak of her baby Christian years when she revered figures like Billy Graham and Benny Hinn as spiritual giants upon the Evangelical Craze in the 70s when everyone was getting “Saved” and “on fire for Jesus”. However, there was another period that happened soon after that craze and it was called the Satanic Panic…

The Rise of Evangelicalism: From Billy Graham to Benny Hinn

In the evangelical landscape of the 1980s, luminaries like Billy Graham and Benny Hinn held sway over the hearts and minds of millions. Their charismatic preaching and larger-than-life personalities drew in droves of believers, including my mom and her siblings when they were teenagers. They had hung on their every word, seeking solace and salvation in their sermons.

The Satanic Panic: Unveiling the Darkness

Beneath the veneer of evangelical fervor, a wave of hysteria swept through America—the Satanic Panic. Rumors of Satanic rituals, child abuse, and occult practices permeated communities, fueled by sensationalist media coverage and evangelical zeal. As a sheltered child ensconced in the evangelical bubble, I was shielded from the full extent of the panic. However, its tendrils reached even the most devout households, casting a shadow of fear and suspicion.

A Personal Awakening: Questioning the Narrative

As I grew older, cracks began to appear in the facade of my sheltered upbringing. Questions nagged at the edges of my consciousness—were all non-believers truly agents of darkness? Were Satanic cults lurking around every corner, waiting to ensnare the unsuspecting? It was a reckoning with reality, a realization that the world was far more nuanced than the black-and-white dichotomy of evangelicalism.

Reflections on Evangelicalism and the Satanic Panic

Looking back on those tumultuous times, I can’t help but marvel at the power of belief to shape our perceptions of reality. The evangelical craze of the 1980s, with its charismatic leaders and fervent followers, created an environment ripe for hysteria and paranoia. The Satanic Panic, fueled by a potent mix of religious fervor and societal anxieties, left a lasting imprint on the collective psyche of America.

Christian parents across the nation tightened the reins of their households, enforcing stricter rules and regulations in a bid to shield their children from the perceived dangers lurking in every corner. Disney movies, once beloved staples of childhood, suddenly came under scrutiny, with their fantastical elements and hints of witchcraft deemed off-limits. Curse words were banished from our vocabulary, and any form of entertainment or media that even hinted at sin was swiftly censored. It was a time of heightened vigilance, where the line between righteousness and corruption blurred with each passing day. As a child caught in the crossfire of evangelical paranoia, I found myself navigating a maze of restrictions and prohibitions, toeing the line between obedience and rebellion.

Conclusion: Navigating the Shadows of the Past

As I journeyed through the evangelical landscape of my youth, I encountered both the light and the darkness that lurked beneath its surface. The Satanic Panic may have faded into the annals of history, but its legacy lingers on, a cautionary tale of the dangers of unchecked zealotry and blind faith. In the end, it is up to each of us to navigate the shadows of the past, forging our path toward enlightenment and understanding.

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