This week it was revealed how the ancient Suffolk town of Bungay has become a hub for Satan worshippers in the UK.
Recent figures from the 2021 census show how one in 120 of the local population answered ‘Satanism’ when asked about their religion – 100 times the national average.
But it is not just in Bungay that devil worship is popular.
Soaring numbers of young people are joining Satanic groups in Britain after becoming disillusioned with ‘outdated’ religions.
Chaplain Leopold, the co-leader of the main UK organisation, the Global Order of Satan UK, claimed there has been a 200 per cent increase in membership over the past five years.
Soaring numbers of young people are joining Satanic groups in Britain after becoming disillusioned with ‘outdated’ religions. Above: Members of Satanic group the Global Order of Satan UK
The Global Order of Satan insists that it is a ‘progressive, independent, non-theistic Satanic ministry’
Speaking to the Telegraph last month, the London-based undertaker said two main reasons for the rise of Satanism were the decline in the popularity of ‘traditional dogmatic religions’ and a ‘movement towards self-dentification and self-realisation’.
He said young people are increasingly turning away from what he called ‘incredibly outdated, very obviously stuffy views’.
In contrast to the popular description of the Devil as being the personification of evil, the Global Order of Satan insist they have been ‘misrepresented’.
They say on their website: ‘Satanism is based upon self-reliance and care, responsibility and compassion.
‘The foundation of Satanism is built on the self and in carrying out Satan’s work with humanity.
‘This work is done when we give voice to the voiceless; when we challenge authoritarianism and injustice; in the acts of compassion and the practice of empathy; and is done when we pursue truth and knowledge.
‘Not just the knowledge contained within written words, but also the knowledge of one’s self.
Graph showing the growth and decline of smaller religions in England and Wales between 2011 and 2021, including Satanism, Shamanism and Wicca
Paganism, already a popular religion in 2011 with 56,000 followers has seen a boom to over 73,000 followers in 2021
‘It is only through self-love and through the vigilant practice of self-care that that we find ourselves able to give freely to others; with ease and without expectation.
‘For the virtue of compassion shall open the gates of hell and make us whole.’
The group also insists that they are against ‘all forms of bigotry’, including homophobia and transphobia.
And despite the name of their organisation, they insist they not believe in the existence of Satan and are instead atheists.
They say this means ‘no god, no demons, no angels, no ghosts (holy or otherwise) and no devil.
They claim that the reason they still call themselves Satanic is because the devil – described as a fallen angel in the Bible – was the ‘first to speak out and voice rational inquiry to an authoritarian God that demanded blind obedience’.
They add that they follow the ‘lessons’ of the description of the devil in religious texts, which allegedly include ‘the importance of dissent, rational inquiry, vigilant self-assessment’ and the ‘continuing struggle for justice’.
According to the recent census data, the number of Satanists in England and Wales has more than doubled from 2011 to 2021 – from 1,893 in 2011 and rising by 3,161 (167 per cent) to 5,054 followers in 2021.
The highest number of Satanists are in the South East, rising by 165 per cent to 795 in the region in 2021, according to the latest census.
In 2019, sheep were stabbed and sprayed with pentagrams in the village of Bramshaw, Hampshire, raising fears that the attacks could have been the work of Satanists.
And then at the end of last year, a cat was found by local church goers hanging ‘horribly’ from a flagpole.
Graph showing the number of people in English and Welsh regions giving up Christianity from 2011 to 2021 rise in people following no religion
This followed the discovery of a dead fox on the doorstep of St Peter’s Church in Bramshaw.
The church’s vicar, the Reverend David Bacon, said he was unsure who was behind the acts, saying it could be people just ‘angry at the world’ or it may be an element of witchcraft.
‘We have no idea what motivated this. Are they just angry at life in general, or against the church, or is it linked to witchcraft? I can’t say,’ he said.
‘But the sheep killings were much more sophisticated. The dead fox felt a lot less organised.
‘It’s really unsettling and sinister for everyone. We’re not sure what will happen next, if anything.’
He added: ‘I have no idea why it is happening in our area. If it is connected to witchcraft, then the New Forest has been linked to witchcraft for hundreds of years.
‘But it could just be random acts of nastiness. It’s all pretty horrible for those who find the dead animals.’