Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 53–75

Satanism: Myth and reality in a contemporary moral panic


  • Philip Jenkins
    • Administration of JusticePennsylvania State University
  • Daniel Maier-Katkin
    • Administration of JusticePennsylvania State University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00190171

Cite this article as:
Jenkins, P. & Maier-Katkin, D. Crime Law Soc Change (1992) 17: 53. doi:10.1007/BF00190171


In the last decade, there have been many allegations about the prevalence of occult or “Satanic” criminality, which is believed to be involved in many offenses ranging from vandalism to child abuse and serial murder. Some have advocated the creation of specialized police units to combat the supposed threat. On the other hand, most of the alleged evils are very poorly substantiated, and highly questionable statements have been widely circulated. In fact, the current concern about the occult appears to have all the hallmarks of a classic moral panic, where a peripheral issue is suddenly perceived as a major social menace. This paper discusses the limited foundation of truth underlying the present “crime-wave”; and suggests that the panic reflects the moral and political agenda of extremists from the fundamentalist religious Right. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** AW502017 00005

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992