October 25th, 2004
(Posted to our General Discussion List today, by Vicky. For those of you who don't know, Chris Cranmer was, at one point in time, a member of the SOTOS Council.)
In the Sydney Morning Herald today
Royal Navy's first Satanist welcome aboard
October 25, 2004
A devil-worshipping non-commissioned officer in the Royal Navy has become the first registered Satanist in the British armed forces.
Chris Cranmer, a naval technician serving on the frigate Cumberland, has been officially recognised as a Satanist by the ship's captain. That allows him to perform Satanic rituals aboard and permits him to have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan if he is killed in action.
Leading hand Cranmer is now lobbying the Ministry of Defence to make Satanism a registered religion in the armed forces.
Leading hand Cranmer, who has been aboard the Cumberland's tour of duty in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf since April, said that being registered as a Satanist gave him "the freedom of religion I wanted, despite its controversial nature".
Satanists are encouraged to perform devil worship rituals, to fulfil their sexual desires and to change situations or events in accordance with their will.
Leading hand Cranmer, 24, is single and comes from Edinburgh. He has been in the navy for four years and was promoted leading hand - the naval equivalent of corporal - in July last year.
He realised he was a Satanist nine years ago when he "stumbled across The Satanic Bible. I ... came to realise I'd always been a Satanist, just simply never knew".
He had been "warmly congratulated" by his friends and family for becoming the armed forces' first Satanist, but did not feel that the war in Iraq was "the devil's work".
"From a military perspective, I believe in vengeance. I don't consider Satan to be an intelligently external force in my life; instead I consider it an empowering internal force. If I were asked if I were evil, I would say yes - by virtue of the common definition. However, if you asked my family and friends you would hear a resounding 'no'. I get a massive amount from my career, while sacrificing little."
He added: "Freedom to practise my religion irrespective of location was one of the most important factors. I didn't want to feel I couldn't get out my Satanic Bible and relax in bed. I didn't want to bite my tongue any more when dealing with idiots.
"First, I can read what I want and express Satanic opinions without fear of prejudice. Second, I no longer have to attend religious ceremonial duties and am excused from all of them.
"Third, I will have a space provided for Satanic ritual practice - I'm not a habitual visitor to the [ritual] chamber, but to know that I have the facilities to use if need be is indeed a comfort.
"Fourth, I will not be subject to a denominational burial should I be killed in action. The Church of Satan will be contacted to provide a service ..."
The Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco in 1966 by its high priest, Anton Szandor LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible. Adherents live by the Nine Satanic Statements, which include "Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek", "Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification", and "Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence".
The arrival of the navy's first Satanist shocked veterans. Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, the former Commander of the South Atlantic Task Groups in the Falklands War and a flag aide-de-camp to the Queen in 1989, said Satanism would be "terribly undesirable" on a ship. "My immediate reaction is 'Good God, what the hell's going on?"'
A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "We are an equal opportunities employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious values."
The Telegraph, London