Marilyn Manson: Satan’s Disciple?

Satanic and occult influences can be found everywhere especially in contemporary music. Don’t believe it, then just try playing your favorite records backwards and you’ll hear all the occultic and satanic messages. Oh, I forgot…nobody buys records anymore, they just download MP3s.

I’ve been listening to music a long time from various sources including radio, 45 and 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records, cassette tape, reel-to-reel tape, and CDs. I never considered playing the songs backwards; I never even thought to try. That was back in the 1970s, now if you want to learn how to play your media backwards, all you need to do is watch a video on YouTube.

Of course, not even Mr. Ed was exempted from the 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria since the notion of a talking horse must be satanic after all. Since Satan is cunning and deceptive, his followers needed to find a clever covert way to get his messages across to the masses and that was through backward masking. A clear example is in the theme song to the Mr. Ed TV show played backwards includes the phrase, “the source is Satan.”1 Shocking! I watched the Mr. Ed show when I was a kid and I don’t remember the theme song ever being played backwards and I don’t remember hearing any satanic messages either.

I guess those folks who are determined to find Satan will find him wherever and whenever they choose.

Many of those folks were pastors and evangelists along with a few politicians, namely Tipper Gore, who along with other Senators’ wives, created the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).2 I never realized there were so many pastors and evangelists who liked to play their heavy metal records backwards. On the other hand, most politicians naturally hear everything backwards anyway.

As a result of the PMRC getting its way with forcing the record industry to affix parental warning labels on album covers containing objectionable material, the sales of heavy metal records surged.3 If you want people to touch your freshly painted doorways or handrails, all you need to do is display “Wet Paint!” signs. It’s in our nature to want to do the things we are told not to do. Remember the biblical story of Adam and Eve? (I know there’s a heavy theological implication in that last question.)

So, heavy metal music that instigated the Satanic Panic which gripped the nation during the 1980s and threatened to destroy Western civilization is still alive and well today primarily due to the fact that most current heavy metal artists and those from the 1980s have become mainstream. And then there’s Marilyn Manson…

Brian Hugh Warner was born on January 5, 1969 in Canton, Ohio into a seemingly normal family and according to photos provided in his book, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, he was someone who appeared to be your typical all-American, midwestern, innocent looking, clean-cut high-school student— the kind of guy who would have the prettiest girls lining up to sign his yearbook.

Brian’s parents insisted he attend Heritage Christian School instead of public school through his first year of high-school. Brian’s family was Episcopalian, not exactly a fundamentalist, evangelical faith. So, why did they insist on sending him there? Could it be that they were fully aware of the grandfather’s depraved behavior4 and wanted to prevent their son from following in his grandfather’s footsteps?

Based on Brian’s recollections, I’d say the Friday assemblies at Heritage Christian School resembled the alter call at Billy Graham crusades. The young Brian Warner knew he should have gone forward but the embarrassment was too much for him.5 Brian writes that he realized he was “morally, spiritually and religiously behind everyone else.”6 Again, this where most unbelievers get it wrong. You can’t compare yourself to other people because you will either feel unworthy or worse, superior to others as the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and publican. (Luke 18:9-14 NASB).

So, did Brian’s first year of attendance at a Christian high-school contribute to his low self-esteem, feelings of isolation, frequent nightmares, and sexual frustrations as he strongly infers in his book?7 Probably so. But, contrary to what some may believe, Christianity doesn’t just rub off on you because you attend Christian school, have Christian friends, listen to Christian radio, or attend church. If Christianity actually spread that way, everyone in the United States would be a Christian.

Nevertheless, Brian found no “safe spaces” during his time at Heritage Christian School. For Brian, everything he was allegedly taught about Christianity concerned the antichrist, the beast rising from the ground, 666, and the rapture.8 These apocalyptic teachings can be terrifying to mature believers let alone to a troubled teenager who apparently didn’t have parents who could explain the doctrines he was being taught at school.

As it turned out, his Heritage Christian School teachers’ obsession with the imminent return of Christ and the end of the world had the opposite effect on Brian. Instead of driving him toward Christianity, it drove him away…permanently.9 Cry wolf too many times and after a while people won’t take you seriously.

In the end, Brian convinced his parents to transfer him to public school in his sophomore year, but the damage was already done.

During one of Marilyn Manson’s meetings with Anton Szandor LaVey, LaVey made Marilyn a minister in the Church of Satan.10 So, M. Manson became a card-carrying11 member of LaVey’s satanic church. This was quite an honor for Brian (LaVey never called him Marilyn),12 but was it deserved?

I’ve never even heard a Marilyn Manson (MM) song until I landed on a music video of him covering the Doors song “The End” while researching material for this writing. While I never particularly cared for the Doors song at first, I thought it was too long and boring, nevertheless I started to get into it again after I heard it in the movie Apocalypse Now. Quite to the contrary, MM’s cover is anything but boring; it is loud and aggressive while still retaining the dark feeling and imagery of the Doors original. This is not what I was expecting from MM.

Marilyn Manson’s music videos are not your usual MTV garden variety. I would describe MM’s videos as an amalgamation of images resembling those seen in movies like Saw, Insidious, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depraved and disturbing are also adjectives I’d use to describe MM’s videos but does that qualify them as satanic? Sometimes, the most satanic lyrics in music recordings and TV/movie dialog and situations are the ones that portray good as evil and evil as good.13

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:14-15)

Anton Szandor LaVey never believed in a literal Satan, so by extension he also didn’t believe in God. How is it possible for a person to so vehemently hate someone or something they don’t believe exists as LaVey had hated God and Christianity? This is a contradiction. As MM has said, “it’s a lot easier to hate someone you’ve cared about than someone you never have.”14

I like to tell people who are afraid to watch horror movies that you can’t be afraid of something you don’t believe is real. But maybe, just maybe…deep down inside they entertain the possibility that it could be real. And so, I believe it is with LaVey and Manson, particularly Manson.

Marilyn Manson’s song catalog is extensive which precluded me from being able to analyze most of the lyrics but one song in particular stood out to me and that was “Terrible Lie.” I’ve reproduced snippets of the song lyrics here from the AllTheLyrics.com website. (Since MM is male, I’ve decided to use masculine pronouns.)

Hey God, I really don’t know what you mean.
Seems like salvation comes only in our dreams.
I feel my hatred grow all the more extreme.
Hey God, can this world really be as sad as it seems?

In the preceding verse, the author claims ignorance of God’s plan of salvation and is angry that he can’t make it real for himself. The author again levels an accusation against God for allowing all the suffering in the world. I provided a somewhat terse explanation for why God allows suffering in my “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism” blog post.

Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need you to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.

This verse closely resembles the plea the biblical David directed to God in Psalm 51.

Hey God, there’s nothing left for me to hide.
I lost my ignorance, my security and pride.
I’m all alone in this f***king world you must despise.
Hey God, I believed your promises. Your promises were lies.

Again, this verse illustrates the reaction of someone trying to approach God on their own terms instead of on God’s terms and then blaming God for rejecting their overtures. Again, more accusations. Does God really owe anyone anything?

How many you betray.
You’ve taken everything.

These lines from a verse imply that because God has placed constraints on human behavior, the author’s life was ruined because he didn’t receive the reward he was expecting at the end.

I’m on my hands and knees.
I want so much to believe.

The author wants God to accept him but only if it’s on his (author’s) own terms as was the case with the biblical Esau. (Heb. 12)

As mentioned earlier, Anton bestowed Brian with a great honor by naming him a minister of LaVey’s Church of Satan. But what was the one thing that endeared Brian to Anton so strongly. I believe that one thing could have been the evocative quality of Brian’s music. As I wrote in a previous blog post, LaVey wasn’t a fan of rock music, he was a musician who played “The lyrical, romantic tunes of the ’30s and ’40s,”15 quite unlike any of the music being played by heavy metal groups at the time or now for that matter. According to LaVey, true “occult” music is music that is unique, forgotten, neglected.16 17 Hardly the type of music that could inspire the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

And…I’m beginning to like Marilyn Manson’s music.

I think the Stones got it right in the song “Sympathy for the Devil” with the lyrics, “Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste.” Can these lyrics which describe some of the Devil’s characteristics be applied to either MM or LaVey considering the words, “wealth and taste” imply sophistication? Probably not.

It cracks me up that LaVey, an avowed atheist, was the technical advisor on the movie, The Devil’s Rain, a film about literal Devil worship.

In LaVeyan Satanism, the person of Satan is an archetype or an imitation and if it is an imitation, then what is it an imitation of? The archetype of Satan opposes God who also doesn’t exist so He must also be an archetype. So, in LaVeyan Satanism, we have an archetype in opposition to another archetype. The bottom line is that LaVeyan Satanism is guilty of the same error it accuses Christianity of and that is it is all man-made. Anton LaVey used his Devil shtick18 to attract attention to himself and to shock the Christian community, an angle which MM adopted with great success.

While researching Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan, I found myself in agreement with many of his so-called satanic positions. I consider myself to be fairly individualistic and out of the mainstream. I am also no fan of organized religion. I find myself to be “old-school” on a lot of things. I’m also somewhat of an introvert and I do prefer animals and things to people19 So, does all this make me a Satanist of the LaVeyan variety? Probably not, since I don’t harbor any hatred towards God. Yes, I believe Christians can legitimately question God’s motives and sometimes feel anger and disappointment towards God, but not the vehement hatred that LaVey expressed.

I’m sure many would argue that I’m hypocritical because I haven’t passed judgment on MM as other more “spiritual” Christians might have done given Manson’s membership in LaVey’s pseudo-church. Remember Jesus’ teaching on not trying to remove a splinter in someone else’s eye when you yourself have a log in your own eye. (Matt. 7:2-5) Oh yea…they also say the Bible is humorless.

M. Manson believes the Bible is outdated; a book written for a “culture long since defunct.”20 Is that really true? Can anyone argue that any society at any time in history wouldn’t have benefited from the stability provided by the Ten Commandments. Without them, chaos and lawlessness would prevail.

MM also claims to be the Antichrist.21 I would disagree since the Bible teaches there are many antichrists (1 John 2:18). In addition, the spirit of the antichrist was already in the world when the Apostle John wrote his gospel. (1 John 4:3) Was he (John) describing Marilyn Manson? I think not since MM can’t lay blame on a God whom he doesn’t believe exists and he certainly isn’t trying to deceive anyone either since his song lyrics speak for themselves.

In the Acknowledgements section of his Long Hard Road book, Marilyn Manson includes the dedication, “to the memory of Anton Szander [sic] LaVey”

When I visited the Marilyn Manson website, I watched the “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” music video and really liked it. I did some research and learned that Johnny Cash also recorded the song for his American V album. I like Cash’s rendition also, but Manson’s version is more urgent with the usual sonic overload placed in just the right spots that Manson is noted for. And you don’t even have to play it backwards to hear all the lyrics. I liked the song so much that I ordered the limited-edition vinyl picture disc from a link on Manson’s website.

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Copyright 2020 Gerard Sczepura

  1. “SATAN TAKING MR. ED ALONG FOR THE RIDE?” Justin Mitchell, Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1986, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1986-05-08-8602020267-story.html

  2. “6.66 Hot Points Of The ’80s Heavy Metal Satanic Panic,” Mike McPadden, VH1 News, February 11, 2015, http://www.vh1.com/news/54726/remembering-the-80s-heavy-metal-satanic-panic/

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, (Dey Street, New York, 1999), 15-16. 

  5. Ibid., 20. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid., 19. 

  8. Ibid., 18-19. 

  9. Ibid., 22. 

  10. Ibid., 170. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Ibid., 168. 

  13. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), February 17, 2019, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-laveyan-satanism/

  14. Manson, Long Hard Road, 126. 

  15. Barton, Blanche. The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (p. 130). Feral House. Kindle Edition. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Sczepura, “LaVeyan Satanism.” 

  18. Ibid. 

  19. Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 121. 

  20. Manson, Long Hard Road, 176. 

  21. Ibid., 213. 

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