Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

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Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers
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Photo: Magnolia Films

By Lauren Bray

A new documentary exploring the Satanic Temple and its followers has debuted at the Riviera Theatre, much to the dismay of a local religious leader.

"Hail Satan?", directed by Penny Lane that premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival, follows The Satanic Temple's origins and grassroots political activism. Lane aims to show these Satanists as hard-working activists striving to preserve the separation of church and state in the face of religious hypocrisy.

In a recent review, The New York Times described The Satanic Temple as "basically the Yes Men with an ethos, using humor and outrageous behavior to call attention to hypocrisy, particularly when it comes to incursions of religion into the public sphere."

The film's trailer focuses on the State Capitol in Arkansas where a Christian Ten Commandment monument was erected on government land while Satanists counterargued for an eight-foot statue of the goat-headed deity Baphomet, for equality's sake. 

On Monday, Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director Roger Durling sent out his weekly email detailing new films at the Riviera Theatre. 

"‘Hail Satan?' is a richly entertaining film on the Satanic Temple’s exploits. This light-footed movie challenges our preconceived notions of its subject with a smart, witty and at times hysterical dispatch from the front lines of the fight for social justice. You might think you may be watching a Christopher Guest mockumentary," wrote Durling.

Father Larry Gosselin of Old Mission Santa Barbara wrote to Durling asking that the film be removed and not shown in our community, as reported by KEYT.  

"Without knowing this film personally, I feel I can safely and assuredly say, that the foundational aspects of this movie, and all that it represents, has its source in the powers of darkness.  From my standpoint, as a religious leader, I have first-hand experience in dealing with those involved and influenced by satanic worship.  I can assure you, that unless one has seen the effects that this involvement does bring onto those, who even innocently dabble with "powers of darkness," one has no idea what destructive outcomes can, and will, ensue with the ignorance of what may be seen initially to be enticing and innocent, at first sight, the effects are not innocent but gravely harmful," wrote Gosselin.

He continued by stating the film will be "greatly devastating" to the community which he says is based on his personal experience with "what lies in darkness and its power."

The film will continue to show at the Riviera Theatre through Thursday with additional screenings on Saturday and Sunday.

In the meantime, no one tell Father Larry about the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series on Netflix, this updated and darker reboot will not be his cup of tea.


Lauren is a member of the Dedicated Staff of edhat.com. She believes in equality for all, the first amendment, and the separation of church and state... so she might be a "Satanist."

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SB Barbarian May 01, 2019 09:17 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

"Without knowing this film personally, I feel I can safely and assuredly say, that the foundational aspects of this movie, and all that it represents, has its source in the powers of darkness." Father Larry say basically, not only "I have not seen the film personally", bit he admits he doesn't even know what it is about, save the title, upon which Fr. Larry does not speculate as to the natre of the film, but guarantees and safely assures whomever is listening to Fr. Larry that "all that it represents, has its source in the powers of darkness." How would Fr. Larry know that if he didn't even know what the film is about? His whole speil about his knowing what Satan does to people and its affects, and how this film is going to be "greatly devastating to this community". I call BS. No film abot anything is so powerful as to "devastate" a community Hyperbole much, Father larry? I'd be more inclined to at least give you a listen if you had actually seen the film.

helena May 01, 2019 03:32 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Gosselin has given us a close-minded, reactionary response without even seeing the film. How about if the community overlooks this error in exchange for keeping him off the Fiesta Pequeña stage. We cringe annually hearing his giggling about "flamingo" and his mispronouncing so many names. And what is up with dissing the Riviera Theatre in the comments? We can now enjoy a greater variety of indie and foreign films year-round than before; sometimes it's good to venture beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

x01660 May 01, 2019 10:47 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

From an aritcle posted today (5/1) on Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-heresy/conservatives-want-catholic-bishops-to-denounce-pope-as-heretic-idUSKCN1S73KE " “We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church,” they said in a 20-page open letter. The letter attacks Francis for allegedly softening the Church’s stance on a range of subjects. They say he has not been outspoken enough against abortion and has been too welcoming to homosexuals and too accommodating to Protestants and Muslims." Yeah. Maybe get your own affairs in order before you start criticizing others. Doesn't your Bible say something to that extent? ;)

biguglystick May 01, 2019 09:57 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

As a christian I would STILL see this film and I will always stand up for freedom of speech and religion, whatever your religion may be. Censorship is not cool. Leave the film alone, let people see it if they want to. And while you're at it, stop trying to ban abortion too.

CelesteBarber May 01, 2019 09:25 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Disclosure: I am attend Sunday Mass at the Old Mission, a parishioner there for 20 years now. Disclosure: I am a First Amendment person. I understand that Freedom of Speech also includes the right to be confronted by offensive speech. Watch the Public Comment at City Council meetings: THAT'S when I cherish the First Amendment most. I have stood firm for that right and been assailed for it, too. So, I do disagree with my beloved priest in this instance. But I am posting here because what I have read in the various comments disturbs me greatly. We in this country debate openly and vigorously about the issues, including the above. However, these days civil discourse over civic matters has been replaced by personal attacks and just plain vitriol. Ignorance and cruelty. Perhaps those tactics are acceptable on the middle school playground; or on the bloodied streets of Venezuela, places that do not have a Constitution such as ours. Such tactics have no place here, in America. Furthermore, you folks write about First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, and so forth. What about Freedom to Worship? My beautiful church has been desecrated several times over the past months. Horrifically. Those were cowardly and vile acts against a religion, the definition of a hate crime. How would you like to enter your own church or synagogue, only to see red paint splattered across the baptismal font at the entry? The statue of a beloved saint, beheaded and covered in red paint? Separation of Church and State actually means the freedom to worship freely. The Founders were most fearful of the imposition of a state church -- the Church of England, for example -- that would persecute all other faiths. Many of our earliest ancestors to colonial America sought refuge on these shores for that very reason, including my own colonial ancestors. Today, we again see the resurgence in the persecution of particular religions, right here in America. Poway. When you attack a religion, even in a comment section of an online local newspaper, you sow the seeds of intolerance yourself. God Bless my beloved priest.

Factotum May 01, 2019 10:55 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Celeste, it is refreshing to hear someone profess love for her faith. Thank you for your comments. And what you did for our flag at SBCC. Brave lady considering what a tough crowd you faced. But you stood for a lot who were silently cheering you on. And yet again here, there are also those who have a comfortable, loving relationship with their own profession of faith and how they choose to exercise it.

nope May 01, 2019 08:31 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Celeste - How are online comments in any way inhibiting your freedom to worship? Destruction of church property is abhorrent but perhaps somewhat understandable if you for one second think about the victims of your church's crimes. You are somehow overlooking years of systematic abuse and cover ups, not some vague historical wrongs or crimes committed far away and long ago but here in your own town in your lifetime to children in your community! The more people that remind you that you are a dues paying meter of a pedophile cult the better. Lecturing people about intolerance when this entire thread is in response to your beloved priests idiotic ramblings about a film he has not seen, perfectly sums up the blindness of your faith.

Roger May 01, 2019 01:21 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Good for you I come from a catholic family of saints some of them committed federal fraud in my name to the tune of 393,000.00 dollars when I was a juvenile in a coma others condemned me and threatened me when I turned them in. They tried to have me committed Thank the Good Dog for honest Doctors not all of them take pay offs....Close friends of mine were molested right here in Santa Barbara by the priests I think Catholics are bullies and they have no right to put down Satan. Satan never committed federal fraud in my name tried to have me committed or molested anyone I know of. Ramen Live and Let Live.

x01660 May 01, 2019 10:22 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

I appreciate your comments and respect your stand on a lot of things (you were my English teacher the last year you taught at SBCC), but I have to disagree with parts of your statement. You say "What about Freedom to Worship? My beautiful church has been desecrated several times over the past months. Horrifically. Those were cowardly and vile acts against a religion, the definition of a hate crime." What about what the Catholic Chuch (and SPECIFICALLY J. Serra) did to the Chumash culture and religion? We still have a street called "Indio Muerto" for goodness sake. Then you state "When you attack a religion, even in a comment section of an online local newspaper, you sow the seeds of intolerance yourself." So how is one supposed to express that what your beloved church does is WRONG? Here's an old debate I highly recommend you watch, to understand WHY people are so opposed to your Church and everything it does and stands for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZRcYaAYWg4 If you can't click the hyperlink, go on Youtube and search for "Intelligence Squared: Is teh Catholic Church a force for good in the world?" It may shed some light on the situation for you. I agree in freedom of worship, just as I do the freedom of expression. And acts that break the law (like vandalism and mass shootings) are not to be tolerated. But worship and expression are NOT guaranteed to be free from analysis and ridicule. Especially (in the case of religion) if either purports to come from an infalliable, omnipotent, omnicient god who "loves you", but will torture you for all eternity if you don't grovel before him like a louse.

Flicka May 01, 2019 09:08 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

I can't believe all this "anti-Satan" rhetoric on here. Just some fictional guy dreamed up to counteract heaven and God (he may be fictional too). Maybe Father Larry should see the film before denouncing it. Sounds to be a movie is totally different from what the priest thinks it is. Don't judge a movie by it's title.

racjax May 01, 2019 08:59 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

From what I can infer, Fr. Larry wrote a respectful, personal letter to Roger Durling who then contacted John Palmintieri in order to publicize the private letter. Did Durling respond to Fr. Larry prior to contacting Fr. Larry and discuss this? Did he inform Fr. Larry that he was going to scamper to John Palmintieri? Why did Durling feel (always "feelings" involved) he had to publicize this? Obviously, for publicity to make himself feel good and encourage the mob to denigrate Fr. Larry. This is the problem with society today. Quite frankly, the behavior of Durling has exposed more about his flawed character in this little episode than he could have ever realized.

Factotum May 03, 2019 08:46 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Bird, I suspect you fail to see the irony in your comments too regarding the clear political bias in the films now shown at the lovely, newly refurbished Riviera Theater - more diversity in the political spectrum, or just a plain neutral political spectrum would be welcomed. More for art and flim's sake; less preaching, leftist bias and social justice battering.

Bird May 01, 2019 10:50 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Totally disagree, Factotum. I have seen some wonderful films there recently, from WOMAN AT WAR, to, RBG, to ROMA to many others, the programming has been imaginative, bringing interesting films we would not otherwise have a chance to see. ...btw, it's a privately-owned public space, as are the Metropolitan Theatres.

Factotum May 01, 2019 08:52 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Of course Satan lives. And always will. Life is always about the transcendent choice between the dark or light forces at play within one's own human nature. Satan can be creative but chaotic ferment bubbling from within. Choice channels and funnels this primeval force into life-affirming good.

Rinconer May 01, 2019 08:27 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Father Larry, Except for your highly obedient parishioners, these days most people feel the catholic church should stop their rampant pedophile priests from molesting kids. Or at least after they do, put them in jail instead of transferring them to a distant hunting ground. Let's make that a priority before you start a 2nd career as a film critic.

Alma Krause May 01, 2019 07:45 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Trying to keep religion out of politics doesnt seem to be working so well in Europe these days as Islam floods Europe filling the gap left by Godless Europeans. Ironically God is a necessary evil. You have to choose. Islam is coming to America in ever larger numbers. The Judeo-christian tradition is the better choice, but at the same time the most persecuted of religions, because they have a positive message. You have to believe in something. The 10 commandments are a good place to start. Secular Humanism sounds good on paper but it is really Satanism. That’s how Islam sees it. Father Larry gets it. Go God!

x01660 May 01, 2019 02:05 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

To elaborate on that point, its stated in the Qur'an ( I used to be a Muslim) that Christians and Jews are "Uhl al-kitab" which means "People of the Book", and that if you can't find direction for something in the Qur'an, to go to the Bible, and if you can't find it there, to go to the Torah. And that Muslims (men) can marry Christians and Jews, and can eat their food, etc. So yeah. Good job showing your ignorance...

TaxiOnna May 01, 2019 12:48 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Alma, you seem to have missed out on studying world religion in schools. You realize that Muslims believe in Jesus, and read both the Bible and Jewish traditional texts as part of their worship, right? Judeo-Christian tradition is one of the many backbones of Islamic tradition. Your ignorance on this is actually kind of amusing...

a-1566351305 May 01, 2019 06:19 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Now I want to see it! The Catholic church has no authority in my life after they protected the priest, here in Santa Barbara, that sexually molested my brothers. We have free will, a spoof on satanic worship won't corrupt us or ruin our city like sexually demented catholic officials have done. Having that type of experience damages ones faith in the church more than some movie ever could!

Crystalandmaui May 01, 2019 07:51 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

What you said here, is the real news. That’s is horrible, please tell me he is not here in Santa Barbara anymore and still not professing gods words anymore, hypocrite. This fictional film is just it a fictional film. People’s life’s being changed forever by some pervert, needs action taken. I’m sorry for your family and hope something was done.

EastBeach May 01, 2019 01:07 AM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

I heard an interview with filmmaker Penny Lane a few days ago. The ? in the title 'Hail Satan ?' should be a giveaway that the film isn't about what you think it is !!! I believe this was the interview ..... scroll down to April 22 ...... https://www.npr.org/podcasts/425115945/the-frame

a-1566351305 Apr 30, 2019 09:19 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Wow intellectual capacity to read, reason and analyze has really reached an all time low in this country. I don't know whether to blame it on lack of proper education, lack of intelligence or medications. All this priest is saying, based on his beliefs, is not to give attention to satanic themed things or satan type worship, that's all. For those that need it dumbed down - similar to not saying "Voldemort" in Harry Potter. Nowhere did he say that watching some teenage witch show makes you a satanist. Try to figure it out maybe you'll understand better the point he was making, based on his beliefs and the Bible.

TaxiOnna May 01, 2019 12:53 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

This is my fave comment because it literally misses every. single. point. 1. The people who didn't say "Voldemort" (and used the moniker "You Know Who" instead) in Harry Potter were portrayed as paralyzed by fear. To not say his name gave him more power than saying it. Which was why Dumbledore was considered an outlier and a brave man for saying his name, humanizing Voldemort, and eventually leading Harry Potter to ultimately triumph. 2. The Father's letter literally acknowledged that he had NO IDEA what the movie was about. A quick read of the synopsis reveals that the documentary is about an organization that established a fake religion to challenge the lack of separation of church and state in America, not a bunch of people who worship Satan. 3. The words "Satan" or "Devil" never occur in the Bible So yeah... your capacity to read, reason and analyze definitely has reached an all-time low ;)

SoapBox Apr 30, 2019 09:49 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

Is it then your poor reading comprehension, lack of intelligence or meds that you, and the priest, both missed that this group is not really about satanic themed things or satan type worship. Rather it, and they, are about not allowing religious individuals or organizations to insert their own personal beliefs into the public realm or try to control the actions or free expression of others. Read it again, Larry did not say to simply "not give attention" to the film. He demanded that it not be shown. claiming wrongly that the "foundational aspects of this movie, (i.e. the First Amendment) and all that it represents, has its source in the powers of darkness." Now that's low.

x01660 Apr 30, 2019 08:50 PM
Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers

"But in the end one also has to understand that the needs that religion has satisfied and philosophy is now supposed to satisfy are not immutable; they can be weakened and exterminated. Consider, for example, that Christian distress of mind that comes from sighing over ones inner depravity and care for ones salvation - all concepts originating in nothing but errors of reason and deserving, not satisfaction, but obliteration." ~Frederich Nietzsche

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