by Jake Block
One of the ways that success is measured for any product, from automobiles to religion is through a “longitudinal study.” It’s a long term determination of the acceptance and satisfaction of one’s target demographic. A demographic is “a particular sector of a population,” where a statistical analysis can show the satisfaction vs dissatisfaction of that sector along a time line. For example, John bought his first Ford automobile in 1955 and he bought his last in 2000, just prior to his death in 2010.
This would indicate that, overall, John was very satisfied with his choice of Ford products, as during the 45 year run of his vehicle buying experience, he was never dissatisfied enough to change his patterns and buy another brand, despite the often enticing offers from the newer, trendy brands. John found his Ford reliable, adequate to meet his needs, and stimulating enough for him to continue his loyalty to brand. We can get this kind of information because we as a culture are data driven and, to a significant degree, reliant on numerical statistics to guide our economies.
What about one’s religion/philosophy acceptance as one measurable demographic swale… the peaks and valleys of acceptance on a graphic chart that indicate high and low points of the demographic being targeted. Anecdotally, one can see that the major religions of the world are popular and powerful. A survey by the Pew Research in 2011 indicated that there were 2.18 Billion people that identified as “Christian,” an increase of 600 million from 1910. Also represented were Muslims, with a block of 1.9 Billion, Hindus with 1.1 Billion and Buddhists with 0.52 Billions, and Jews with 14 to 15 million. Also represented, in smaller groupings were “Folk Religions,” with an aggregate total of 0.4 Billions of followers from around the world.
In tracking statistics over a period of time, we find that “things change,” as we can see in a more recent Pew Research survey between 2007 and 2014 indicated that “The Christian share of the population (in America) fell for 78.4% to 70.6%, driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. The unaffiliated experienced the most growth (6.7%), and the number of Americans who belong to non-Christian faiths* also increased.”
* Includes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, other world religions and other faiths. Those who did not answer the religious identity question, as well as groups whose share of the population did not change significantly, including black Protestant tradition, Mormons and others, are not shown,
— Source: 2014 Religious Landscape Study, conducted June 4 – Sept30, 2014.
How many identify as Satanist? It’s anybody’s guess, as worldwide Satanist as represented a statistical anomaly, fluid and insignificant, globally, since its point of greatest visibility, beginning in 1966. Numbers of hard-core, dyed in the wool Satanists are quite frankly “as rare as hen’s teeth” in the overall religious landscape, and since the LaVeyan emergence in 1966, 53 years ago, no serious attempts to statistically analyze their numbers has yet to be included in surveys. Have we grown as a religious or philosophical option? Without a longitudinal and standardized accounting, we may never really know for sure.
We tend to suffer from a form of myopia, at times, when we look at the number of Satanic and Left Hand Path websites on line. While still a statistically small sampling of the web when compared to the overall religious/philosophic category of web options, one can easily see that any counting based on web activity would be futile, as not only do people change their identifications (Satanist to Luciferian, etc) from site to site, but one individual might list themselves on 100 different sites, and often under just as many “handles,” for overall anonymity, or to press a personal agenda that has been problematic for them elsewhere on the web.
How many people who identified as Satanists back in 1966, and still identify that way today is anybody’s guess. I personally have not changed my identification as a Satanist since embracing the title in 1971. I would assume, based on my personal perusal of those I know on and off the web that I am an anomaly, based on the ever-increasing choices that have been available in the past 48 years. People change, philosophically, based on any number of reasons relative to their personal experience. But are we more in number today than we were a decade or two ago? We will never know until some serious and reputable statistical collection organizations undertake a longitudinal study, and that will most probably be difficult and prohibitively expensive for the foreseeable future.