Satanic Panic: The Retro Entertainment That Will Send You Straight to Hell

If you grew up in a strictly religious household or a vaguely religious one like me, then you have probably heard a parent say, “I don’t want that in my house. It’s for them Satan worshippers. The devil is in those books/movies/card games/music.” 

This might not be so much of a thing for people born in the 2000s, but the 1980s and 1990s crowd had to deal with what eventually came to be called “the satanic panic.”

I want to be very clear that I think that everything about the satanic panic is goofy and so are the people that buy into it. In fact, I had forgotten about it until recently.

The Lil Nas X song MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) along with others have reignited the “fight” against satanic things in entertainment media. 

I thought I would take a trip down memory lane to the 80s and 90s satanic panic and show you some things that people believed would result in you being slam dunked into a lake of fire.

Magic: The Gathering Can Summon Real Demons

Greg Staples is the artist

Magic: The Gathering is an immensely popular card game. Basically, two players (Planeswalkers) face off by summoning different monsters, casting spells, and reducing your enemy’s health pool to 0. 

The cards are works of art, so it’s easy to see why people that don’t even play the game collect them. Unfortunately, this fun game and the beautiful cards didn’t have an easy start.

Why It’s “Evil” 

MTG got a lot of flak in the 1990s for its gameplay along with the depictions on the cards. For one thing, the game involves “summoning” monsters to fight on your behalf, and some of those monsters were classified as *gasp* demons. It didn’t help that some designs had the pentagram on them. 

It did not take long for these elements of the game to get blown out of proportion and get caught up in the satanic panic. Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of the game, caved and decided to rename the demon class “horrors” and re-designed some of the cards to remove offensive imagery

The demons returned in the early 2000s as the moral crusaders shrunk away. It’s sad to think that the whole game series could have been sunk that soon!

Doom Because Apparently Fighting Demons is Bad

Does this guy look like he’s friends with the demons?

The video game, Doom, was released in 1993 and caused a lot of ruckus. The game upped the violence of Wolfenstein titles. Instead of fighting the Nazis, Doom had you fighting undead soldiers and demons.

Why It’s “Evil”

Naturally, the game caught the attention of a few different groups for similar reasons. The game was considered too gory, too violent, and could make people want to commit violence by playing it. 

Added into that mess was the fact that the game used “satanic imagery” like pentagrams and demons. The outrage helped sell copies and gamers loved it.

I’ve always wondered why religious people would get upset about this game. The guys from hell look like demons and their lairs have pentagrams. How else are we supposed to tell them apart from the good guys?

For that matter, why are we not collectively in love with a game where you fight against evil? You’re not part of Satan’s army; you’re turning demons from hell into chunks of flesh with your chainsaw! 

Heavy Metal/Rock Music Brings Full-Blown Satanic Panic

Ah, the old-fashioned album art

What happens when you take musicians with a thirst for controversy and fame and tell them to make music that will sell in the midst of a religious moral panic? 

You get music that is meant to cause outrage and clash against the easygoing era of music in the 1970s. In the 1980s, rock and metal* were pushing the envelope, and part of that involved dressing up, writing lyrics, and using imagery that would get a rise out of people.

Why It’s “Evil”

Parents who misunderstood the band’s intentions along with just plain dumb people railed against musical artists for their use of occult symbolism that would lead their children to perdition! 

As a result, people started to blow a gasket about things like:

  • Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil” cover which originally featured a pentagram (2 sins for the price of one)
  • Slayer’s “Show No Mercy” cover that had a fellow with a goat head holding one sword while four others formed a mostly-complete pentagram
  • KISS got caught up in the mix because the name really meant “Knights In Satanic Service” (I’m not even kidding. I heard that as late as the 1990s).
  • Judas Priest was accused of hiding evil messages in their albums that drove people to commit suicide. They were actually taken to court over this in 1990

Nowadays we have bands that are constantly trying to push that shock value or show off their dedication to the principles of Satanism with much more obvious symbolism and lyrics. Funny how the world is sometimes, eh?

Dungeons & Dragons: Bringing the Devil to a Home Near You

You’re going to hell just for reading this

Dungeons & Dragons is a tabletop fantasy game that allows people to make their own characters and go on campaigns to complete an objective designed by the Dungeon Master (DM). 

The game has been around since 1974 and it’s hugely popular in the current day. D&D’s influence has inspired copycats and video games alike, but the community had to fight off some very negative connotations. 

Why It’s “Evil”

D&D drew on a lot of sources for characters and monsters to flesh out the game. The only problem is the developer stumbled on the same problem as Magic: The Gathering. Demons were included in the bestiary which sent parents into a tizzy. 

These absolute yahoos thought that the spells in those books just might be real evil that could affect the world and bring Satan into their homes. Yeah, someone found how to summon demons and decided to sell that knowledge in a series of books. 

Also, parents didn’t like the fact that their kids were gathering after school to plan out their adventures in their basements. Were they being nerdy before it was cool or were they performing devil-binding rituals like the news claimed?

Again, D&D took the safe route and removed the demon monsters from the 2nd Edition of AD&D, published way back in 1989.

I wonder how many people saw the first season of Stranger Things and thought that the kids playing D&D in the beginning caused the whole problem with the demogorgon. 

“I told ya those kids were up to no good, Barbara.” 

The Ouija Board Opens a Portal to Hell

Yup. People believe this stuff works. And they live right beside you.

A Ouija board is a flat board marked with all the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, “yes”, “no”, and sometimes other words. 

Included with the board is a planchette, a piece of wood or plastic that slides along the board and has a cutout in the middle. 

With those two tools in hand, you and several friends can perform a seance. Not really, of course, but some occultists and religious people believe that users could.

The reality is that people would slide the planchette (what a word) across the board and spell out answers about your past, future, or something entirely different.

Why It’s “Evil”

In a way, it’s kind of funny. The Ouija board was one of the few times on this list where we have common ground in the satanic panic! Occultists have used the Ouija to “contact” people that are dead or spirits on the other side, so they urge practitioners to use caution so they don’t contact the wrong kind of spirits. 

Religious people don’t want you talking to dead spirits, demons, or whatever else because you might get some information that you shouldn’t have or you might end up possessed. 

Of course, any rational person could just use the Ouija board and see that no matter what you ask those on the “other side”, nothing happens. 

You could also sit down with a believer and try to get some information that they couldn’t possibly know, which is what me and a friend did to a third friend.

That’s right, Tina. We knew you and your board were full of crap when we tried to get it to spell Mediterranean Sea and you suddenly had to go to the bathroom. 

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Subverts the Lord

Ok, I can understand how a first-time look at Skeletor might scare some parents

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe started as a line of toys that eventually grew into a television show, movies, and more. 

Sure, Skeletor might look a little scary to some but the show is standard fare as far as fantasy goes. 

Why It’s “Evil”

Back in 1986, a person named Phil Phillips wrote Turmoil in the Toy Box, a steaming pile of nonsense that fed off of and then back into the satanic panic of the 1980s. 

You can punish yourself by listening to this person speak in an interview, but I’ll sum up some of the problems that they had with He-Man below. 

Just listen to this nonsense

Critics didn’t like that the show was filled with characters branded “the masters of the universe.” They found Skeletor and his ram skull staff outright satanic. The idea that saying “By the power of Greyskull” (which was also also a satanic symbol) could empower Prince Adam (oh, like that Bible guy) is akin to a real-life sorcery. 

If you listened to the idiocy in the video above, you’ll see that people believed toys could lead to occultist fascination and rituals and even act as a replacement for their religious figure of choice.

“There is only one master of the universe, and HIS name is (insert deity here).”  That was the basic argument about this incredible line of toys being evil. You can’t put anything above “insert religious figure here.” That’s blasphemy. And you’ll go…straight to hell. 

Star Wars is Witchcraft

Yeah, the little green guy is 100 percent trying to convert your kids to Paganism

Star Wars might be the “least offensive” on this list because the first one came out just before the satanic panic started to tighten its noose around fun things. 

Why It’s “Evil”

You won’t find much in the way of satanic symbolism in Star Wars unless you really squint, and that is just what the nutjobs did. 

One problem that emerged is that the Jedi are too close to a religion. Not helping matters was the founding of jediism. 

Another issue that emerged was the use of the force. Anytime you have a supernatural power being wielded by rebels it’s just going to make people feel threatened on behalf of their deity of choice. 

Oddly, the critics looked right past the movies’ theme of redemption (I hear that’s a big one in religion) and found something to complain about.

Pokémon Turns You into a Warlock

Such is the fate of all those that enjoy Pokemon

The Pokémon franchise saw the creation of cards, manga, a television show, and movies. The popularity of Pokémon in the mid-to-late 90s was absolutely crazy, and some of that continues to the present. 

Basically, your job as a trainer is to catch monsters called Pokémon, have them fight other Pokémon to get stronger, and make them fight other trainers on your behalf. 

How do we make the leap from cute monsters to pure evil?

Why It’s “Evil”

People thought Pokémon was evil because it had the power to open up a realm to the demon world or it led to witchcraft. A particularly creative interpretation of the gameplay is that the player is a warlock and the Pokémon are your thralls!

Then you had the standard, “Pokémon is the devil in game form” nonsense. 

Then again, mom might have been right about this. We’re performing what boils down to cockfighting with creatures that are more intelligent than some human beings, forcing them to beat each other unconscious.

Every once in a while, we literally provoke god-like beings into potentially world-rending fights. 

Maybe Pokémon loses some points for the questionable morality, but why look so deep into something at all?

Harry Potter Extols Witchcraft, Anti-Religion, Etc.

They’re celebrating WHAT?!

Harry Potter is a very famous book and movie series that follows a young man as he grows up in an unfamiliar, magical world that is set in the modern day. 

The youngsters in the stories would learn how to cast spells to do everything from fixing their glasses to torturing others without leaving a mark on their body. Needless to say, it took no time for this book series to become problematic in the eyes of loonies. 

Why It’s “Evil”

Despite being written by a practicing Christian and including a lot of positive Christian themes and symbolism (they even celebrated Christmas), the series was attacked by some Christians for its depiction of witchcraft. 

Also, the old worry that the spells in the books and movies would lead to people trying to cast real ones appeared again.

Still, I would bet that not a single spell from Harry Potter has even been cast in the real world. 

Some religious groups denounced the books as outright satanic and a sort of idolatry. Harry Potter does “die” for his friends and then comes back. I guess that bit has been done before. 

Not every religious group had a problem with the books, though. 

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t look that bad, right?

Alright, that’s all I have for the entertainment that would send you straight to hell. According to some people, at least. 

Normally, I end articles by telling people to contact me with their thoughts. Today is no exception! However, I do ask that you take a look at what you’re about to send me and see if it meets a single criterion:

Is what I’m about to say completely bats*** insane? 

Am I about to claim some kind of spooky occult encounter or get offended on behalf of a religious figure? If so, maybe this is a time to keep the comments to yourself

If it’s not, great! Let’s hear what entertainment your parents thought would send you to hell! Personally, I have discovered that every family is a little different in their wacky pseudo-religious nonsense.

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