Satanic Documentary Shown at Local Theatre Ruffles Religious Feathers
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."