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Experts: Satanism among factors in outbreaks of school violence


HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP)–University professor Johnny Purvis didn’t intentionally become an expert on satanism. But during 25 years of studying student discipline and behavior, he kept seeing the presence of cults.
Nor can their influence be overlooked when considering the growing problem of school violence, according to Purvis, professor of educational leadership and research at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
“Youngsters are turning to a lot of alternative religions, from witchcraft to satanism to New Age,” Purvis said. “I see this growing tremendously. It’s a natural feeder of violence and rebellion.”
Satanism has been linked to at least two murderous school rampages in the past year. In one shooting in Pennsylvania, the alleged assailant called himself “Satan,” according to Bill Riceman, an Iowa criminal consultant and Christian counselor.
Satan worship also played a very sophisticated role in three murders last fall in Pearl, Miss., Riceman said. Satanic influences were cited in the murder trial of the student accused of murdering his mother and two fellow students there.
“Along with that was neo-Nazism, which is the way satanism is going right now in the U.S.,” said Riceman, founder of Cornerstone Seminars, which leads seminars on identifying and preventing destructive youthful behavior.
“There’s a progression in satanism and it’s also cyclical,” Riceman said. “Every five to seven years it comes around because (teens) grow out of it. We’re in the middle of a cycle; it’s big again. People who had older brothers or sisters who were involved are taking it up.”
Satanism tends to appeal to “nerdy” outcasts who like its instant access to power, even if it means negative attention from others, Riceman said. It is generally a Midwestern Bible-belt phenomenon. On the East and West coasts, teens usually join gangs, he said.
While white supremacists tend to be most heavily involved in satanism, groups from a variety of ethnic backgrounds also have ties with devil worship, Purvis said.
Some are strange spinoffs, with practitioners mixing it with witchcraft and paganism. In a recent suicide case, the professor discovered the victim adhered to witchcraft theories and writings that dated back to the 1500s. He also uncovered a high school group using nine ancient, sophisticated languages in their rites.
Both consultants say it is impossible to determine a figure of the active number of satanists. Not only are they secretive, youngsters lie about their involvement, thinking it makes them look cool, Purvis said.
However, signs of their activity are everywhere, Purvis said. They include satanic graffiti or carvings on picnic tables, or animal mutilation and sacrifices of everything from cats and dogs to cows and goats.
“I go by the sites and the number of indicators,” said Purvis, who has visited more than 30 crime scenes the past four years. “I look at it as a trend. It’s way up. In the work I do, I see it growing the most in more conservative, religious areas.”
One of the biggest problems with satanism is convincing parents and school officials of its reality, Purvis said. Many either try to downplay it or argue that the devil doesn’t really exist.
“I’ve had people tell me they believe in Christ but they can’t believe in Satan,” Purvis said. “I get all kinds of responses. It’s kind of like gangs. We’ve still got jillions of people who swear we don’t have a gang problem.”
Parents concerned about their children or extended family members getting involved in evil practices need to be the lookout for changes in behavior or associates, he said.
That includes observing their activities, clothing and games, as well as what movies, videos and TV they watch and what kind of music they listen to, Purvis said.
Often, key indicators can be found in the child’s bedroom, Riceman said. He has seen cases of teens sleeping in caskets or who sprayed, “Hello, Demons,” on their wall — without the parents’ knowledge.
“Everything on a kid’s wall is a statement of who he or she is and who they want to be,” Riceman said. “I think satanism is generally underrated, although some rumors are ridiculous and have no foundation.
“The reports of the number of human sacrifices, which say there are thousands a year, is not true. But it does occur. There’s no doubt,” Riceman said.
Anyone with a background in Christianity and the Bible should be able to understand the signs of satanism, said the criminal consultant.
For example, adherents can only wear silver jewelry. Gold is considered a Christian metal because it was a gift at Christ’s birth, he said.
Satanists also like to dye their hair and drape it over their left eye. The reason, Riceman said, is to symbolically place themselves opposite Christ, based on a passage from Matthew 25. In it, at the time of judgment, the Lord separates the sheep on his right from the goats on his left.

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  • Ken Walker