By now, you’ve no doubt heard that Delaware’s Republican candidate for the Senate, Christine O’Donnell, is taking a lot of heat for having backed out of a number of network interviews that she’d agreed to do in the wake of her surprise primary victory over the favorite of the Republican establishment, Congressman Mike Castle. It seems as though Bill Maher’s untimely release of video footage of O’Donnell in the 1990’s, admitting to having dabbled in witchcraft made her rethink her press strategy… Anyway, for the past few days, those of us on the left side of the political spectrum have been having a field day, pointing our fingers and laughing at the Tea Party dopes in Delaware who were stupid enough to push a corrupt, uptight witch into the national spotlight, and into a battle for Senate that the Republicans likely would have won against the Democratic challenger with Castle. And I, just like everyone else, have enjoyed the spectacle. But, I think the time has probably come to step back a bit and state the obvious – that Chrstine O’Donnell, regardless of what she may have said in the 90’s, was likely never in the presence of a blood-soaked Satanic alter. I know. I know. It’s not nearly as much fun to poke fun of a liar, who just pretends to have dabbled in witchcraft, but I think that’s pretty clearly the case here. The truth of the matter, I’m almost certain, is that she made the whole thing up in order to make a name for herself if the competitive world of professional Christian fear mongering.
As you’ll recall, there was a lot of that going on at around the same time – Christians stepping forward to give graphic testimony about having seen or participated in all kinds of unspeakable acts in honor of Satan. A friend of mine that I was discussing this with yesterday, reminded me that Christian comedian Mike Warnke made similar claims in the 90’s, which were later proven to be untrue. Warnke made a good living before the bottom fell out, traveling around the country, and warning concerned Christian parents about the dangers facing their beloved children. And, then there was Ruth Bailey, the rehabilitated Satanist who published under the name Rebecca Brown. She too had escaped demonic powers, to expose a worldwide network of Satanic training camps. And then there was Lauren Stratford, who wrote the book Satan’s Underground. Like Warnke, though, both of these women were eventually exposed as charlatans.
To my knowledge, and I’ve spent my past few evenings looking around the internet for related news stories, there’s never been a so-called reformed Satanist who hasn’t proven over time to be full of shit. And, for all the panic in the 90’s about the ritual killings of babies on Satanic altars, I don’t believe any evidence of such things actually having happened have ever surfaced. There was, of course, the case of the three goths in West Memphis, Arkansas who were arrested for the murder of three young boys in 1993. It was speculated at the time that they killed the children as a tribute to Satan, but most folks now seem to think that they’re innocent of the crime, and were just targeted for the way they looked.
So, while I suppose I could be wrong – and that O’Donnell may have once been near something that she was told was a Satanic altar – I think it’s far, far more likely that she made the whole damned thing up, which, personally, I find a lot more troubling. And, I find it odd that no one in the press is questioning her claim. Everyone seems content to just take her for her word that she dabbled in witchcraft, without even suggesting that it could have been a lie meant to further advance her career as a Christian activist.
The bottom line is that O’Donnell saw an opportunity to make a name for herself nationally when she was young, and she took it. And she built a little business catering to the fears of Christians. And, now, fifteen years later, she’s doing the same thing all over again, on a much bigger scale, with the Tea Party movement. She saw an opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of some frightened people, and she took it.