With headlines conjuring up “the devil and the deep blue sea,” a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Navy has become the first registered Satanist in the British armed forces, leaving some veterans and politicians stunned.
Chris Cranmer, 24, from Edinburgh, Scotland, has been officially recognized as a Satanist by the captain of the HMS Cumberland, according to the London Telegraph.
The designation gives him permission to perform Satanic rituals aboard, and have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan if he’s killed in action.
“From a military perspective, I believe in vengeance,” Cranmer told the paper. “I don’t consider Satan to be an intelligently external force in my life; instead I consider it an empowering internal force. If I were asked if I were evil, I would say yes – by virtue of the common definition. However, if you asked my family and friends you would hear a resounding ‘no.’ I get a massive amount from my career, while sacrificing little.”
Founded in San Francisco in 1966 by Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible, the Church of Satan has its followers live by the Nine Satanic Statements, including “Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek,” “Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification,” and “Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence.”
The idea of putting a ship into devil worship is raising some red flags among Britain’s war veterans.
Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, the former commander of the South Atlantic Task Groups in the Falklands War, said that Satanism would be “terribly undesirable” on a ship.
“My immediate reaction is ‘Good God, what the hell’s going on?’ ” he said. “When I was serving, you were either Church of England or Roman Catholic, but I never heard of any Satanists. This sounds pretty daft to me.”
The decision is sparking political outrage as well.
“I am utterly shocked by this,” Tory former minister Ann Widdecombe told ITV. “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.
“There should be no question whatsoever of allowing Satanist rituals on board any ship in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. What they believe and do in their own home is one thing, what they do at work is the business of their employer.
“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.”
Members of the Royal Army and Air Force need to swear an oath of allegiance to the queen as head of the armed forces, but such an oath is not required of naval recruits.
“We are an equal opportunities employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values,” a navy spokesman told the Telegraph. “Chris Cranmer approached his captain and made a request to be registered as a Satanist. This involved a formal stand-up approach, made in front of an audience, saying that he wanted to register as a Satanist and to practice his religious beliefs.
“The Royal Navy allows this kind of approach because it is clearly in line with current regulations. We are not aware of any other individuals who want to be registered as Satanists. Our policy is that, wherever practical, reasonable requests for time and facilities that do not impact on operational effectiveness or the welfare of other personnel, are met. The captain said that this decision was entirely up to the individual and that he is a good lad, a good worker on board. Nobody is suggesting there is anything at all dark about this.”
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