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Satan is getting hot as Hell in American pop culture

“I am your nightmare,” a possessed child tells Russell Crowe. “My nightmare is France winning the World Cup,” the actor fires back in the April 14 release, The Pope’s Exorcist. Opening the same day is Nefariousa movie about a psychiatrist who must determine whether a man on death row who claims to be possessed by the devil is mentally fit enough to be executed.

In November, 2021, Pew Research reported that 62 percent of American adults believe in Hell, up from 58 percent in 2014, and pop culture appears to be taking full advantage of the curiosity that surrounds Hell and its inhabitants.

The Devil is front and center in movies, TV shows, podcasts and even children’s books. There are Satan After School Clubs, while the proliferating Satanist groups have their own political divisions.

There’s The Exorcist Files, in which Father Carlos Martins recreates exorcisms, and the podcast routinely tops the list of the most popular in the “spirituality” categories. On Netflix alone there are dozens of titles dealing with hellish demons, including Warrior Well, Devils in Ohio, The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself other Lucifer, in which the ruler of Hell runs a piano bar in California. Comedy is also fair game, thus Ted Danson plays a torturous demon who is prone to mistakes in the Netflix series, The Good Place.

Not since 1973, when The Exorcist was a cultural phenomenon on its way to becoming the first horror film to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture has Satan been such a popular topic. There’s even a Children’s Book of Demons; sample passage: “Summoning demons has never been so fun!” A used copy of the controversial book published in 2019 sells for $253 on

While there’s no polling data suggesting a rise in Satanism, Father Carlos Martins, host of The Exorcist Files, sees anecdotal evidence that more Americans are opening the door for Satan to enter their lives. Exorcisms are way up, he says, and so is interest in them, hence his podcast hit 1 million downloads by the eighth episode.

Humans crave spirituality, says Martins, but a Gallup poll in 2021 noted that for the first time in US history less than half of all Americans were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. To fill the void, many are embracing “a rejection of received social customs and expected behavioral norms in favor of embracing ‘me-first’ pleasure, pursuing intense feelings and experiences,” Martins told Newsweek. “The adoption of Satan as a figurehead is merely another ‘shock’ ceiling through which the movement has broken through.”

There’s even an organization that sponsors “After School Satan Clubs” and a rivalry is brewing between two of the most prominent Satanist organizations in the nation. And let’s not forget that at the most recent Grammy Awards singers Sam Smith and Kim Petras performed a Hell-themed version of the song, unholywith Smith dressed as the Devil, and Petras chained in a cage surrounded by flames, much to the chagrin of some Republican lawmakers.

“This… Is… Evil,” Senator Ted Cruz tweeted after the performance. “The Grammy’s featured Sam Smith’s demonic performance and was sponsored by Pfizer,” tweeted Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Neither Smith or Petras responded to Newsweek’s request for comment.

“New-age, the occult, witches, warlocks, Satan — people are intrigued, and Hollywood feeds it to them,” says Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The controversial pastor — he kept his church open through COVID lockdowns, criticized transgender bathrooms and challenged the integrity of the 2020 presidential election — conducts mass “deliverance” events where he says congregants shed their demons.

Three years ago, he was preaching to about 300 people in a wedding chapel; Today, his Sunday night delivery events attract as many as 3,000 under a massive tent. On March 13, Locke was featured in Come out in Jesus name, a documentary about his church of alleged demon slayers. The one-night release earned $974,000 nationwide and ruled the box office on a per-screen basis that day, thus the $400,000 movie will re-release a few days ahead of The Pope’s Exorcist other Nefarious.

“Hollywood is pushing demonic activity; we’re pushing freedom from demonic activity,” Locke told Newsweek. “We believe in demonic affection and oppression. Not everything is a demon, but there’s a reason some people can’t get over an addiction or depression. You can’t medicate your way out of spiritual heaviness. You cast it out.”

In the film, Locke speaks of knowing that “voodoo and witchcraft and evil were real,” but for 30 years he suffered from “the disease to please,” which kept him from preaching about it because he didn’t want to be dismissed as a “charismatic.”

Chuck Konzelman, who co-wrote and co-directed Nefarious told with Cary Solomon Newsweek that “curiosity with respect to demons is dangerous, and meddling with the occult is flat-out crazy.” Thus, the movie serves as a warning as to what can happen when one invites Satan into their life, be it through evil deeds or the embrace of a mere Ouija board. “When you pick one up, you’re saying ‘yes-yes’ to a willing spiritual possession. Your intention is almost certainly temporary, but demons play for keeps,” he said.

In Nefariousthere are long scenes where a doctor debates an alleged demon — or perhaps an extraordinarily cerebral man who suffers from a dual-personality disorder — that are reminiscent of the opening scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, where a smooth-talking Nazi convinces a man to give up Jews hidden beneath his house. except in Nefariousit’s the devil trying to convince an atheist of his existence.

Nefarious also reflects the Christian values ​​of the filmmakers, with “Satan” weighing in on hot-button issues like abortion. “Can you imagine the agony the Carpenter feels when we rip a child to pieces inside his own mother’s womb?” says the alleged demon, referring to Jesus Christ.

The character, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, also claims to “know more theology than any human being who has ever lived.”

“He made you in his image. But we remade you in ours,” the alleged demon tells the doctor, and in doing so sums up the premise of the film: that the flaws of human beings have become so prevalent that they’re celebrated in public policy, media and culture.

“So that’s it? That’s your entire plan? Not to make something of your own; just destroy us?” asks the doctor, played by Jordan Belfi. “No. Our plan is to hurt Him. To punish Him. And we do that by destroying what he loves. Which is you,” the possessed man explains.

The role that politics plays in Nefarious is underscored by the appearance of conservative commentator Glenn Beck playing a rare role as a fictional character in a narrative film. The movie is based on the book, A Nefarious Plotwritten by Steve Deace, who hosts a show on Blaze Media, co-founded by Beck.

Konzelman and Solomon are the pair behind faith-based films like God’s Not Deadonly this time they say they have made a horror film for the masses, but with a twist: a distinct lack of the blood and gore that usually accompany the genre.

“I am your nightmare,” a possessed child tells Russell Crowe. “My nightmare is France winning the World Cup,” the actor fires back in the April 14 release, The Pope’s Exorcist. Opening the same day is Nefariousa movie about a psychiatrist who must determine whether a man on death row who claims to be possessed by the devil is mentally fit enough to be executed.

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