Almost everyone has noticed that evil people often have great success in life, whereas many good people suffer terrible misfortunes.
One common explanation for this injustice is that it is the work of the Devil. In fact, one of Satan’s favourite activities is to bring pain and suffering to a good person. He also likes to help evil people become successful. With his assistance, even a weak inferior person can gain great wealth and power.
Many people have wondered why God allows Satan to carry out his evil activities. Fortunately, the fiend won’t be able to keep causing harm forever, because the bible says that he will eventually be brought to justice and punished with eternal torment in hell. But in the meantime, he has already
enjoyed thousands of years of freedom, and during that time has brought misery and suffering to millions of human beings. Because he has so much influence over what happens in the world, he can appear to be very powerful. Evil people often notice his apparent power and begin worshiping him in hopes of getting his help.
Some people worship him secretly, but others prefer to participate in some form of organized worship. One example of organized worship is a service called a Black Mass, which is usually held in a large room decorated to resemble the nave of a church. During the service people shout obscenities at God, curse Jesus, and act out a parody of the Holy Communion. They may also worship a black cat under the pretence that it is the Devil in disguise.
Another form of devil worship, said to be practiced by witches, supposedly takes place at a meeting called a Sabbat. Most descriptions of these Sabbats say that they begin at midnight at a secret location in the countryside. Purported activities include dancing naked around a fire, trampling on a cross, drinking human blood, and sacrificing new-born babies on an altar. According to some accounts, the Devil himself comes to many of these gatherings, often appearing in the form of a horned goat.
Demons may also be present. The festivities usually culminate in a lewd orgy before finally ending at dawn.
In modern times, some new groups of “Satanists” have appeared, especially in the United States. These groups have names such as the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, and the First Satanic Church. Each group has its own beliefs and performs its own special rituals. However, members of several groups claim that they don’t worship Satan, but simply admire him for having the courage to openly defy God. In truth, many people in modern societies are secretly attracted to the dark side of life that Satan represents.
Note: Contrary to what many believe, modern Wiccans do not worship the Devil, and most of them doubt that he even exists.
The term “idol worship” can have several different meanings. According to one definition, it is the worship of a physical idol itself, such as a statue, as if it were a real god or spirit. By another definition, it is the use of an idol to represent a god or spirit during an act of worship. And in a third possible case, a god or spirit is thought to be inside the idol at the time of worship. Thus, in the first case the worshipers believe that the idol is an actual god or spirit, whereas in the second case they regard it as a stand-in for a god or spirit, and in the third case they think that a god or spirit is inside it. Only in the first case is the physical idol itself worshiped.
One of the most famous idols is the Golden Calf described in the bible.
According to the Book of Exodus, this idol was created when the ancient Israelites were camped at the base of Mount Sinai waiting for Moses to return from his climb up the mountain. The Israelites had expected Mosesto return quickly, so when many days passed and he still didn’t appear, they started to worry. Eventually they asked Aaron, the brother of Moses, to make them an image of the God of Israel so that they could make offerings to it. At first Aaron refused, but they continued to pressure him, and he finally decided to try to satisfy them by making something for them to worship. He collected a large quantity of gold from their jewellery, melted it with a fire, and ended up with the Golden Calf. He built an altar in front of the calf so that the Israelites could worship it and make offerings to it.
Eventually Moses came down from the mountain carrying two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. When he saw the Golden Calf, he got so angry that he shattered the tablets on the ground. Then he burnt the calf idol in a fire, ground it into powder, poured the powder into some water, and forced the Israelites to drink the mixture. Aaron admitted that he had collected the gold and melted it, but said that it had formed itself into the shape of a calf on its own. God was so angry that he decided to kill all the Israelites, but Moses convinced him to spare most of them, although at least 3000 did die, and God said that he would inflict more punishment later by killing some of the tribe’s future descendants.
Afterward, Moses climbed the mountain again to get new tablets to replace those that had been shattered.
Stories about the prophet Muhammad suggest that he had an intense hatred for idols. According to one story, he smashed more than 300 pagan idols that had been kept inside the Kaaba in Mecca before the people of the region converted to Islam.
Some of the largest images and statues of deities can be found in Hindu temples. To an outsider, Hinduism may appear to have numerous gods and goddesses, but many Hindus regard all of these individual deities as different aspects of a single Supreme God called Brahman who permeates everything in the universe. Even so, a particular god or goddess is often worshiped individually, as if he or she had a separate independent existence.
In Hinduism, an image or statue of a deity is called a murti. Many Hindus believe that a murti provides a way to communicate with the deity that it represents. Some even believe that the deity can be present within the murti. Thus, when a Hindu bows down to a murti, or places offerings
before it, he or she may believe that a god or goddess is inside it and is aware of what is happening. Many Hindus believe that a deity only spends part of its time inside a murti, and they try to make their offerings when they think it is present. Another common view is that the murti is a kind of “listening post” for the deity. But in all of these cases, the murti itself isn’t worshiped, and most Hindus will protest when an outsider refers to a murti as an idol.
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