Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
The world of a Satanist is a secretive one, which typically involves indulging the passions and mocking all things Christian, particularly Catholic. A few respond to grace and renounce the lifestyle, however, embracing Catholicism and sharing stories of their time as Satanists. The following are stories shared with me by three Catholics who are ex-Satanists, who now publicly share their stories in various public Catholic forums as both speakers and writers.
Deborah Lipsky is author of A Message of Hope: Confessions of an Ex-Satanist. Deborah is originally from Massachusetts, got involved with Satanism as a teen, and returned to the Catholic Church of her youth in 2009. You’d be surprised to discover that seemingly respectable citizens in your community are members of satanic covens, she said, as “they’re people you meet on the street. They’re doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs.”
Deborah has autism, which led to her isolation as a child. She attended Catholic schools in grades 7-10. Rejection and abuse by other children led her to misbehave in class, which made her unpopular with the nuns who ran the school “and they suggested I deserved the treatment I received. I was angry at the nuns, so, as a joke and to get even, I started coming to school wearing the pentagram. I would also draw it on my homework assignments. They asked me to leave the school. Now, these were the pre-internet days, so I began reading about Satanism in books, and then began talking with Satanists.”
She joined a satanic cult, but was turned off by the vulgarity of their Black Masses. She recalled, “It is depravity at its worst. Satanism is about indulgence, and destroying the Church and traditional morality.”
Had you met her as a Satanist, she said, “If you were nice to me, I would have been nice to you. If you were mean to me, I would have gotten even. I might have sent a demon after you.”
She continued, “You would have been uncomfortable around me, as I could have given you some hateful looks, and found me very manipulative. You would have been surprised that at a young age I had accumulated tremendous wealth, even though I was only working part-time.”
People invite the demonic into their lives through “portals,” she said: “You can make use of Ouija boards, go to a psychic, attend a séance or try to communicate with ghosts. We can also invite them in when we let ourselves be consumed with anger and refuse to forgive. Demons have the ability to tamper with our thoughts, and lead us into addictions.”
An increasing fear the demonic led her to return to the Church and share her experiences. She said, “I love the Church, and have dedicated my life to her … Our Lady has had an incredible role in my life, too. I’ve seen great miracles happen through Mary.”
She encourages the faithful to live active Catholic lives, going to Mass and Confession regularly, and make use of the sacramentals, especially holy water. She calls it “industrial-strength spiritual Lysol,” and said, “I keep it in my home and regularly bless myself.”
She also recommends that the faithful be careful about their hobbies and entertainment. She said, “The drinking, partying, carousing lifestyle can create an opening for the devil to come in; I also recommend people avoid the killing/slasher movies.”
David Arias is from Mexico City, and came to California at age 16. He was raised in what he described as a “culturally Catholic” family, but often clashed with his family as he was a self-described “troublemaker.”
Friends in high school introduced him to the Ouija board, inviting him to play it in a cemetery. The association led him to underground parties, which included promiscuity and drug and alcohol abuse. Eventually he was invited to join what he called “the Satan church.”
David said his group included all ages (at 16, he was among the youngest) and ethnicities. Many were “gothic,” people who dress in black, and color their hair, lips and around their eyes black. Others appeared perfectly respectable, and worked as doctors, lawyers and engineers.
The group was careful to avoid the police, and threatened to kill any member who went public with his experiences.
After four years in the cult, David “felt empty” inside and turned to God and returned to his Catholic faith. He has since married, had children and been active in his parish, sharing the story of his past, particularly among the Hispanic community.
He advises parents to keep a watchful eye on their children, as children today “have easy access to many things that are harmful.”
He, too, recommends regular attendance at Mass and regular Confession, as well as the Rosary. He said, “The Rosary is powerful. When someone is praying the Rosary, evil gets upset!”
Zachary King is a former Satanist who today is a Catholic evangelist operating the All Saints Ministry apostolate.
He joined a satanic coven as a teen, lured by activities he found enjoyable. He explained, “They wanted people to keep coming back. They had pinball machines and video games we could play, there was a lake on the property in which we could swim and fish, and a pit for barbecuing. There was lots of food, sleepovers, and we could watch movies.”
There were also drugs and porn. Porn, in fact, “plays a huge role in Satanism.”
At age 33 he stepped away from the coven. His conversion to Catholicism began in 2008, when a woman gave him a Miraculous Medal.
Today, he warns parents to keep their children from exposure to the demonic. This includes avoiding the Ouija board, and games like the Charlie Charlie Challenge.
Although he regrets involvement in Satanism, he’s confessed his sins and doesn’t struggle with guilt. He said, “I had had a longing to be Catholic ever since I was a child, and I wish I had become a priest as soon as possible. But, God allowed me to have the experiences I had. He wants me to tell everyone: don’t do this.”