As It Was…

by  —  December 30, 2007

At some point in my later teens I began to wonder where Satan had gotten off to. In earlier years the insidious Old Scratch was everywhere; planting blasphemous backward messages in music, sowing the seeds of homicide in spiritually naive Dungeons & Dragons players, and encouraging every manner of sinful abandon. The liquor-sodden, cathode-entranced, wife-beating working class of Middle America knew that the failings of their dysgenic children could only be attributed to the Supernatural. I seemed to recall a social climate in which terrified parent groups would assemble late-night emergency meetings to discuss the threat of an ever-present occult movement hell-bent on destroying democracy and decency itself. Everywhere, there was an undertone of panic. 1 I once overheard a pair of adults conspiring in hushed tones regarding the horror of a recent news item: a teenager, overcome – possessed – by demonic influences, had cut off his mother’s head in the climax of a petty dispute. Clearly, this was no mere Bogey Man story. This was real. Savage murders, it appeared, were growing more and more common as covert satanic cults flourished throughout the globe. Roving bands of cultists were touring the nation with mobile crematoriums, cannibalizing, raping, worshiping graven idols, and making a mock of all that is holy, pure, and Christ-ly. And then, suddenly, they were gone. Or so it seemed.

By the time that I was old enough to wonder what had become of the amok cults, I was also old enough to recognize that a good deal of the panic stories must have been bunk. But, I reasoned, every such story must contain some element of truth. What of the therapeutically revealed repressed memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse victims? And who could forget the satanic antics of serial killer Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker? What of the cult that compelled David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, to terrorize New York City during the seventies? Even if there hadn’t turned out to be a unified international satanic conspiracy, what of the individual incidents of cult activity? How many of that bizarre, sanguinary lunatic fringe had been brought to justice? And what of the cult that had inspired Charles Manson? Not his own dysfunctional hippy “family” of gullible acid-heads, but the cult that Manson himself was said to have been servile to?

I couldn’t remember where I had heard most of these tales. School-yard rubbish had intermingled with the talk show “information” in my mind, and I wasn’t yet aware of how little difference there was between the two. I remember finding a book in a bookstore that juxtaposed the photos of Charles Manson and a steely-eyed satanic cult leader, showcasing an “undeniable” similarity between the two.2 The cult leader was Robert Moore, known as Robert Degrimston, and the book implied that Manson was inspired by his teachings; “Moore and I are one and the same.” Manson was quoted.3 The cult, of course, was The Process Church of The Final Judgment; black-robed, mysterious, apocalyptic Satan-worshipers. Utilizing shocking symbols – the goat’s head and a strange-looking variation of the swastika – and practicing secret rituals, The Process was the quintessential cult… Everything that was loathed by decent God-fearing citizens. My curiosity was piqued. Soon I found that The Process had been implicated in everything: all the crimes of satanism, the Son of Sam murders, even the CIA’s MKULTRA program. Of course, they had links to the Nazis, too. When the heat grew too strong following the negative attention brought upon by the Manson murders, they went underground. Degrimston disappeared entirely, never to be seen again.

That was the story.

But I was skeptical. I had learned very early that a secret kept by more than one person, wasn’t to remain a secret for very long.4 If nothing else, I found it hard to believe that such a large organization (the numbers are disputed, but at its peek The Process had chapters in several major American cities, as well as a solid European presence) could manage to keep secret crimes of such staggering magnitude. Nobody ever accused me of always finding the best in people, nor of being a glass-half-full kind of guy, but the idea ran counter to everything I had learned up to that point. Large though it was, the “satanic” alternative religions didn’t seem large enough to shelter their followers from societal norms. The guilt of animal, human, and infant sacrifice would undoubtedly affect some. Indeed, “confessions” of such activities were reported by self-declared cult defectors, but their stories were often unbelievable and obvious confabulations. Evidence was always conspicuously lacking.

In 1992, the FBI’s Kenneth Lanning released a report titled Investigator’s Guide to Allegations of ‘Ritual’ Child Abuse, wherein he reported, “We now have hundreds of victims alleging that thousands of offenders are abusing and even murdering tens of thousands of people as part of organized satanic cults, and there is little or no corroborative evidence.” Also, in 1992, The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, created by “[a] group of families and professionals affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore”5 began exposing the methods by which irresponsible therapists had manufactured “false memories” that were later interpreted as “repressed memories”. In 1993, Jeffrey S. Victor released an excellent sociological study titled Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend, which did much to offer a rational explanation for the bald-faced bunk I’d been weened on in a credulous, shame-less talk-show culture. More and more, the claims of cult crimes folded under unbiased inquiry, revealed as the delusional ravings of moralizing Christians twisted by the fundamental belief that all that is good and altruistic is of God, and all that is rotten, antisocial, and criminal, is of Satan… literally. By 1995, even the disgracefully irresponsible Geraldo Rivera sensed the sensationalist ship sinking and expressed regret that “…many innocent people were convicted and went to prison…”, going so far as to declare himself “…positive [that the] Repressed Memory Therapy Movement is also a bunch of crap.”6

But what about The Process? Were they guilty of anything at all? Surely, nobody could have fabricated an entire cult, photos and all?

Material about The Process was hard to come by, and nearly all of it was derived from two sources: a book about Charles Manson titled The Family by Ed Sanders, and a book about The Process titled Satan’s Power by William Sims Bainbridge. Bainbridge’s account was a straight-forward sociological study that detailed the rise, fall, hierarchy and practices of the cult, whereas Sanders’s book took a conspiracy angle that was deemed libelous enough in a Court of Law that the chapter dedicated to The Process was subsequently deleted from future printings. After The Process dis-banded, conspiracy-mongers held a carte blanche to re-visit and resurrect Sanders’s claims without fear of legal action. After all, Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan still exists and may contest claims of criminal activity. One can only imagine how its dis-banding would affect the Conspiracy Mill – even today. The symbols, shocking quotes, and intense visage of Robert Degrimston made The Process an irresistible target for Satanic Panic purveyors. Of course, there was also the dirty detail of actual devil worship.

But the truth is more complex. Satan, it turned out, was only part of the story. In a sort of Western Taoist philosophy, The Process worshiped both Christ and Satan. A reconciliation of opposites. Seeing how easily the strictly polarized conventional Christian believers could be led on senseless, baseless witch-hunts, I began to believe that The Process Church represented a necessary evolution of religious thought in a changing world. It became my own belief that, in order for religion to survive, it must evolve and adapt a more nuanced view of reality and morality, or find itself crushed under by scientific progress. In many ways this crushing-under has already occurred as evidenced by an apparently growing gap between the scientifically literate and the tender-headed superstitious populations that quibble over the finer points (and even broad, basic points) of every theory or finding that seems to contradict the untenable idea of biblical inerrancy.

My fixation with the phenomena known as the Satanic Panic in general turned toward a fascination with The Process in particular. Though Bainbridge’s book provided an excellent description of the major activities of the cult during its active years, there was obviously much more to be told. What became of the many Processeans? Where indeed had Degrimston gone? What effect had the talk-show witch-hunts had on their lives? Eventually, I thought, somebody will write a good book about this.

Years passed, and still no new interesting material regarding The Process surfaced. I found myself saddened by the prospect of The Process generation passing on without a thorough, unbiased, full accounting of their unique history. Obviously, I was going to have to carry out this project on my own. But I didn’t really know where to begin. So I started at what appeared to be the finish: with the Panic purveyors.

I began calling lecturers, Occult Crime “experts”, Ritual Abuse therapists, conspiracy authors, and everybody I could locate who had written anything about The Process. Where, I wondered, had they gotten their information? As one may have suspected, their answers were typically evasions, and seeming flat-out lies. How was I to truly believe that this old, defunct organization, that had already seen its name dragged through the mud again and again, was considered to pose such a clear and present danger that sources regarding their activities saw fit to remain anonymous to this day? I began to doubt that certain sources existed at all. These “reporters”, I felt, were willfully lying.7

But there was another type of conspiracy-monger; the paranoid delusionals who convinced me that they actually believed the unlikely stories they were telling… and they told the most unlikely stories of them all. With deformed logic, they began at the conclusion and reasoned backward. Knowing that all “evil” began with Satan, these pious investigators found evidence of his handiwork in every subtle detail. Crime scenes were inevitably rife with Satan’s markings. Colours, addresses, times, dates, lunar conditions; all converged on to one conclusion in their church-addled minds: The Devil did it. Once I had determined the type of Panic Engineer I was dealing with, the interview was rather predictible. Soon, there wasn’t much to be gained.

I moved on to The Process members themselves. Initially, few of them were glad to hear from me. Understandably, many were highly suspicious of journalists8 , and some were a bit mortified that I had managed to track them down. The cold calls were painful, often ending with the subject politely declining an interview. Eventually, though, I found excellent sources from all levels of The Process Hierarchy willing to speak openly about their experiences, and I developed close personal bonds with several of them. Process membership seems to have been abnormally bulked with unique and intelligent individuals. Bit by bit, the yet unpublished story emerged, more remarkable than I had even originally hoped, and with a surprise twist in the plot:

The Story is still being written.

  1. Geraldo Rivera reported, in a 1987 television special titled ‘Satanic Cults & Children’ the unlikely estimate of “…over 1 million Satanists in this country…The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBI attention to their Satanic ritual child abuse, child pornography and grisly Satanic murders. The odds are that this is happening in your town.” []
  2. The title of this book is now completely lost to me, but many of its kind are still to be found in any “speculation” or “metaphysics” sections of most bookstores. They are generally poorly-hacked and contain no original research. []
  3. This often-used quotation originates from the book Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. Though conspiracy-mongers like to cite this as evidence of Manson’s involvement with The Process, while making much of Bugliosi’s credibility as a prosecutor, they typically fail to note Bugliosi’s own conclusion regarding Manson’s remark: “I took this to mean that he felt they thought alike.” (p. 471) []
  4. I earned some solid detention time learning this the hard way. At this point though, I must give a tip-of-the-hat to my High School friend, Ulysses, who didn’t break under questioning. Surely, I’d have been expelled for lighting the auditorium on fire, and who knows where my academic career would have gone then? []
  5. Quoted from the foundation’s website: []
  6. From the December 12, 1995 CNBC program Wrongly Accused & Convicted of Child Molestation []
  7. Make no mistake, the witch-burners are far from finished. “under gauze the wound itches/ they scratch at their stitches/ and when they get better, they’ll burn all the witches.” []
  8. Though, it should be noted, not a one of the Processeans remembered having ever been approached by any of the hack writers that had implicated them in occult crimes. Apparently, those who claimed to know so much about Process’s “secret” activities had never bothered to speak to a member of The Process at all. []

Marked as: Abnormal Sociology  —  3 comments   (RSS)

3 Comments so far
  1. knutty January 13, 2008 12:14 pm

    As It Is,
    I was a member of the Cambridge, Mass. chapter of the Process back around the late 60’s early 70’s. The church was sponsered or at least recognised by the Major of Chambridge at the time. I still have many books and church writtings from that time. I have been unable to find further info on the church till I found the site which has been under construction for some time until recently. I could not find any dispute with what the Process was teaching and nothing about sacrifices etc. existed. The church belief was that there were 3 gods. Jehovah, Lucifer and satan. The problem I found was that most people beleived that Lucifer and Satan were the same but no one could show where in the Bible it said this. And I had asked preachers and ministers. But the church beleived we all had tendencies from all these gods and some leaned more toward one than the others. At the time we were the oppisite of the Hari Krishna.They wore white robes and no hair except a pony tale. The Process wore black with a silver cross and had long hair and beards for the men. There was no talk of Hitler even tho the ir symbol did look a bit odd but was oppisite of the swastica and based around the letter P with circles making the rest of the design. Also where can I find Satans Power. I want to read what was being said about the Process and what was said about members and rituals. For the most part the church existed with donations from strangers on the street and from sales of literature and we had a tea/coffee house which seemed more like a beatnic kind of place. No drugs were allowed even though I beleive some did on their own outsise the church. Enough for now . Maybe we can talk further in the future. My e-mail is ……………….. hope to hear from you………….So Be It

  2. FatalTwilight January 13, 2008 2:21 pm

    Thank you for posting, I have been searching for more church materials as of late, since the net has limited infos.

    You can find Satan’s Power at in the book of archives section.

    They would probably like to see you there as well, and any new infos that you could bring.

  3. christina April 1, 2009 12:30 am

    Functions as a “dumping ground” for any occult activity deemed criminal.

    People even ask me if I am a member!

    Usually while up to their own devious devices.

    Paranoia is calmed by the thought that Chaos can be contained in a word.

    Fear of the unknown is the greatest Fear.

    A survey asked a group what of their 5 senses they feared losing the most.

    They mostly answered Vision.

    Ah, but the best of the senses, number 6 . Common Sense.

    Robert Anton Wilson, someone who should be considered for cloning, if they

    fail on that “Boys From Brazil” project, had lots of good ideas on such matters.

    There is great joy in knowing there are folks out there even more unstable than


    To that end, I gave them all my home address, but they are too paranoid to

    believe anyone would be that crazy.

    Charles Manson summed it up quite succiently in an interview by saying
    “anyone can write a book and say anything they want”

    If the time was allowed to me, might even write one myself just to make it all the

    more absurd.

    After all, life is an absurdity pretending to be serious.


Leave a Comment

If you would like to make a comment, please fill out the form below.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2007-2015 Process Media Labs and the respective authors. This WordPress theme began as a public work by Speckyboy.