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Teen’s experiences with satanism left him with cuts, hatred, rejection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Jon Baker left his satanic cult after waking up one morning to see cuts on his arms and pentagrams carved in his chest and wrist.
The five-sided, satanic symbols gave evidence of an encounter the previous night — an encounter he could not recall after a strange, dark-green-colored form had emerged slightly from of an evil-looking poster on Baker’s bedroom wall.
It wasn’t the first time. On several previous occasions the visitor, who had no hair and a horn sprouting from the back of his neck, had talked with him.
Usually it tried to convince him to commit suicide, telling him his friends had turned their backs on him, nobody cared about him and that God was dead.
“If they think pain, suffering and loneliness is cool, they’ve got another think coming,” the 16-year-old student said of satanism’s appeal to some teenagers. “I’d rather be where I am now than back in the black again.”
A high school junior, he entered cult life about three years ago after his father, a pastor, accepted a position at a Baptist church in Nashville, Tenn.
Angry at his parents for what he perceived as “God being crammed down my throat,” Baker rebelled. Since his father had once described its negative aspects, he decided satanism represented the best way to get even.
He began by dressing in black and listening to heavy-metal music groups like Marilyn Manson, Metallica and Nine Inch Nails.
Next, he found books on the occult at a mall bookstore. There he purchased the Satanic Bible and another volume known as the “Book of the Dead.” The twisted scriptures contained such writings as, “Love the sin, hate the sinner.”
He gleaned other instruction by watching “The Craft,” a movie about witchcraft. That led to self-inflicted cuts and hanging posters in his bedroom with pentagrams and other satanic symbols. He even replaced the lightbulbs with red, green and black lights to maintain an eerie darkness.
Through dabbling in occult practices, Baker became the leader of a small group at his country high school north of Nashville.
It eventually numbered about dozen, with a smaller core group conducting seances. They also consulted Ouija boards and read palms and Tarot cards.
In their seances “we tried to talk to past ancestors,” he said. “We took their pictures and other stuff into the circles. Some of the pictures self-combusted or moved.
“One of my friend’s great-grandmother’s spoons bent (at a seance). We took it as fun, special effects stuff.”
Although he was attending church, there were only a few others in the youth group and all got involved in the cult. While holding most seances in the woods or a cornfield, they twice used the church, he said.
But there was a downside. He gradually became repulsive. He harassed other students, telling them he hated them and trying to sow confusion.
On a couple occasions, Baker “blanked out” while violently pushing classmates. One time the principal called his father to remove him from the building. Baker came to his senses at a fast-food restaurant, but said he couldn’t remember anything about what had just happened.
“Pure hatred was about the only thing I felt,” he said. “I felt rejected by everything — religion, people, my family and God. I knew God was there but I felt he didn’t care.
“I met a lot of Christians who stood and watched. They didn’t try to help me or any of my friends. They rejected me and my friends. There was one good friend who stuck with us, though. I think that’s one reason we came to our senses.”
The other was waking up with carvings on his body. Alarmed by the visible damage, his parents withdrew him from public school and worked to pull him away from danger.
His father began home schooling him, a move he said helped free him from peer pressure. The lessons included Bible studies, which steered him in the right direction, he said. So did a Christian counselor at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville.
One day a friend who hadn’t been aware of his activities helped him remove posters, satanic poems, songs and Tarot cards from his bedroom. Then they burned them in the backyard.
It was difficult to get the fire started, he said. Once the flames lit they periodically shot in the boys’ direction. Occasionally they had to jump out of the way of the two-to-three-foot fire streams, he said.
As the flames lapped up the material, they could hear whispers, as if a group of people were watching, Baker said.
“I thought, ‘I’m free, here’s my chance for a new start,'” he recalled about the 1997 incident. “Everything I was taught in satanism was a lie.”
While he accepted Christ as his Savior in elementary school, he said that was to please his family. Since he wasn’t sure of his salvation, he got rebaptized. Now, if he dies, “I know where I’m going.”
The reformed satanist identified several reasons for its popularity. One is the removal of prayer from school and not allowing students to openly discuss their faith, he said. He also cited the negative influences of the music and entertainment industries.
As for what parents can do to stem this tide, he suggested listening to their children’s music to see if it’s harmful and being cautious about what they allow them to watch.
Movies like the “slasher” film, “The Scream,” are bloody and violent, he said. He loved this kind of gore because it fed his rebellious appetite.
Parents also should spend more time with their children, Baker said. “Dad and I are super-close now. Before I wouldn’t have anything to do with him.”

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  • Ken Walker