Satanism In The Royal Navy
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Satanism In The Royal Navy

The British Armed Forces pride themselves on welcoming people from all backgrounds. The message: If you're prepared to accept what the...

Satanism In The Royal Navy
The British Armed Forces pride themselves on welcoming people from all backgrounds.
 
The message: If you're prepared to accept what the forces are all about, then whatever your gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or religious belief - there's a place for you. 
 
But it may still come as a surprise to hear that a registered Satanist has served in the Royal Navy.
 
In 2004, it emerged that 24-year-old Naval Technician Chris Cranmer, 24, had been allowed to register by the captain of the now-decommissioned HMS Cumberland - and even to perform Satanic rituals on board.
 
Mr Cranmer told the Sunday Telegraph he realised he was a Satanist when he was a teenager, after stumbling across a copy of the Satanic Bible, written by Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey. He said: 
"I then read more and more and came to realise I'd always been a Satanist, just simply never knew."
It was even reported that Mr Cranmer, from Edinburgh, was lobbying the Ministry of Defence to make Satanism a registered religion in the military.
 
But the move to allow him to serve came under fire from some political and religious figures.
 
The Sigil of Baphomet is the official symbol of the Church of Satan
 
Former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, a practicing Catholic, said she was "utterly shocked" by the decision. She said:
 
"Satanism is wrong. Obviously the private beliefs of individuals anywhere, including the armed forces, are their own affair but I hope it doesn't spread."
"The Navy should not permit Satanist practices on board its ships. God himself gives free will, but I would like to think that if somebody applied to the Navy and said they were a Satanist today it would raise its eyebrows somewhat."
But being a practising Satanist apparently proved to be no barrier to Mr Cranmer's career prospects.
 
In 2008, the Daily Record reported that he had been promoted to a job at the Ministry of Defence.
 
Mr Cranmer's mother Catherine told the newspaper her son had been head-hunted for a job in Whitehall after reaching the rank of chief petty officer. She said: 
 
"He works hard and he has achieved a lot in a short space of time. He is serving his country."
"I don't think it makes any difference [to his career]. It is a private part of his life. Chris is the sweetest, kindest person you could meet. He has an excellent record of service. He has been to Afghanistan and the Gulf."
Catherine added that he would sometimes go to church with her when home, adding: "He is part of our family and his religion has never changed that."
 
A spokesman for the MoD, meanwhile, said:
 
"There is no barrier to anyone of any belief joining the armed forces as long as he or she accepts that the nature of the job is selfless, rather than selfish.
"For somebody who is prepared to accept what the armed forces is all about - like Chris - it is not an issue."
There appeared to be some confusion over whether the case had set a future precedent, however.
 
Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth said at the time that Satanists would not be accepted into the Army - but the MoD said individuals of different "religions" are treated on a case-by-case basis.
 
The Church of Satan was established in San Francisco in 1966. Unlike theistic Satanists, who venerate Satan as supernatural deity, its followers believe there are no gods and that materialism and self-indulgence are good.
 
Peter H. Gilmore is the current High Priest of the Church of Satan. Picture: David Shankbone
 
Followers live by the Nine Satanic Statements, which include "Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence", "Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek" and "Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification".
 
Doug Harris, director of the Reachout Trust, an evangelical Christian ministry that "builds a bridge of reason" to those involved in cults and the occult, said the statements are "selfish", however:
"Following such tenets and working them out practically in your life seems to produce a selfish person not a member of a team."
 
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