Satanic Panic Comes to Cyprus

Back in March, Cypriot Justice Minister Doros Theodorou declared fears about Satanism on Cyprus to be baseless. He now seems to have changed his tune, according to the Cyprus Mail:

Speaking at a conference on Satanism in Limassol yesterday, Theodorou said the Council of Europe and European Parliament had both called on their members to confront the problems connected with sects and new religious movements on a political, social and economic level…”both neo-Satanism and Occultism are groups that belong to the so-called ‘New Age’ and move within society using various masks”.


He said the best tool against these dangers was prevention through providing correct information and sensitising people to the actions and dangers surrounding these groups.

Well, if that’s his aim the conference is likely to be counter-productive. Most of the information about Satanism on the island comes from Archimandrite Christophoros Tsiakkas, head of the Pancyprian Parents Union for the Protection of the Greek Orthodox Culture, the Family, and the Individual (P.P.U), which was founded in 1944. Tsiakkas (also spelt as Christoforos Tsiakkas or Christoforos Chiakkas) makes some lurid accusations, claiming there is a “mass initiation of school students into Satanism.” He has also warned of a “Satanic conference” that took place on the island on June 14 and claims that a Satanic temple has been built in Limassol.

However, Tsiakkas has been banging this drum for a while. A previous conference was held by the PPU and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order back in 2000, where he announced that “18.9% of High School children had some experience of Satanism and Occultism.” Part of his “evidence” was that high school students considered rock music to be Satanic and supposedly had the following feelings when listening to it:

32.5% fear
28.4% disruption
26.8% disturbance
22.0% rage
20.5% anger
7.2% pleasure
4.5% tranquillity

Back then, Ministry officials vowed to act against the “200 cults” on Cyprus, in order to “protect and safeguard public order, national security, and national sovereignty.” Seems rather peculiar that nothing seems to have improved after four years – unless, of course, the threat is an imagined one.

The 2004 conference also featured Alexander Dvorkin, a man with rather extreme views. According to the American conservative CNS News, at a roundtable in Moscow in 2003

Dvorkin lashed out what he called “imported sects.”

Dvorkin, who is attached to the Orthodox Church, is a U.S. citizen who has lived in Russia for about a decade on a permit for foreign residents. A controversial figure, he has even labeled Pentecostal Christianity as a “totalitarian sect”.

Clearly, the Satanic threat is being manufactured from a conflation of new religious movements with Satanism and of harmful religion with anything that the Orthodox Church disapproves of, including rock music. Theodorou should go back over his notes from March.

(Several links for this entry came via the Religious News Blog, the Pagan Prattle, and the Wiccan Web)