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Fear of Satanic cults trickled first through certain types of Christian churches. Then, in 1980, a bestselling book suddenly unleashed a rushing flood of public panic.

Michelle Remembers told a horrifying tale about a woman raised in the quaint west coast city of Victoria, Canada. Over many months of intense therapy (up to six hours per day) Michelle Smith slowly came to suspect that she had been abused as a child by a Satanic cult. This was not something she remembered to begin with. Her claims began with bad dreams. More nightmarish images flashed into her mind during trance-like therapy sessions. Her therapist Lawrence Pazder encouraged her mind to wander and recorded everything she said. Her dream like imaginings often made little sense. Over many months, however, the two slowly wove “many fragmentary sessions” into a story—and then into a scary book (unsuitable for young readers).

Their claims were outrageous. They said Smith’s own mother coldheartedly turned her over to Satanists, saying, “You belong to the Devil.” Supposedly, the cult tormented Smith though months of ghastly rituals. She claimed to have witnessed murders and sacrifices. She said the cult surgically sewed devils’ horns and a long tail onto her body. Smith even claimed that the group literally raised the Devil! Satan appears as a character in the book, emerging from a fire to recite bad poetry. Smith claimed to have physically touched Satan; he supposedly wrapped his tail around her. In the end, her ordeal was ended with personal help from the Virgin Mary.

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About Skeptic

BEHE’S LAST STAND COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Is Low-Dose Radiation Good for You? The Questionable Claims for Hormesis, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Define Your Terms (or, Here we Go Again), by Carol Tavris ARTICLES Making Gasoline from Water: John Andrews and the Invention of a Legend • Online Gaming: A Virtual Experiment in the Dark Side of Human Nature • Duped by Data Mining • How Science Will Explain and Fix Fake News • The Cult of Falun Gong: A Dance Troupe and Victimhood Raises Big Money • The Opioid Epidemic Misunderstood • Why the Human-Centered View Has Not Served us Well • Behe’s Last Stand: The Lion of Intelligent Design Roars Again • Straw Man on a Slippery Slope: The Case Against the Case Against Postmodernism • A Disproof of God’s Existence REVIEWS Reviews of: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure; The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake; Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits; Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post- Facts, and Fake News; Hoax: A History of Deception: 5000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies; Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the War Over Anthropology JUNIOR SKEPTIC Quest for the Truth about Dungeons and Dragons