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Published on Nov 11, 2010
Part 1 of a 3-part talk presented at SkeptiCamp DC on October 3, 2010. Views expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizers of SkeptiCamp DC.
Kevin I. Slaughter and Robert Merciless speak on a new edition of book titled The Sorceries and Scandals of Satan, written by freethought advocate and socialist agitator Henry M. Tichenor. Originally published almost 100 years ago, the book is a scathing assault on Christianity, casting Satan as a rebel hero. Merciless gives an historical perspective of the author and elaborates on the themes of the book. Slaughter gives a more poetic and literary framework of Tichenor's use of Satan as an advocate of liberty and reason by showing he is among some of the greatest thinkers and writers ranging from Shakespeare to H.L. Mencken, Ragnar Redbeard to Saul Alinsky.
Henry M. Tichenor was a writer and magazine editor prominent in the socialist and freethinking movements during the Progressive Era of American history. His writings frequently condemned organized religion, Christianity in particular, as a tool used by the upper classes to maintain control over the working class. In the realm of opposition to religion, he has been ranked beside Clarence Darrow and Madalyn Murray O'Hair as a leading American freethinker of the twentieth century.
In "The Sorceries and Scandals of Satan", Tichenor employs the figure of Satan as a literary symbolic character to represent rebellion against tyranny — a symbolism with a robust tradition in literature and political works. In his book, the character symbol of Satan is employed as a foil against which to compare the horrors of organized religion, especially Christianity. More importantly, however, Tichenor reminds us all that there was a time in American history that open skepticism and opposition to religion was a major facet of social political discourse so Americans certainly should not shy away from it today. Vocal opposition to religion is not novel or new.
What is new is the Underworld Amusements republication of this important work. This edition uniquely includes a valuable and critically acclaimed foreword by Robert Merciless which details Tichenor's biography as well as the times and trends which shaped his penetrating writing.