“The Church of Satan was founded as, operated for its first nine years as, and represented itself as a church believing in and dedicated to the worship of Satan, the metaphysical conscious entity standing apart from and in contrast to the singularity of the cosmos.
As with any religion, the Church tolerated varying shades of literal belief in Satan among its lay membership, but where the Priesthood of Mendes was concerned, there was no question of the literal sincerity of the Church whatever. At the lay level, see for example the Adult Rite of Satanic Baptism, with particular attention to its Oath, as contained in Anton LaVey’s Satanic Rituals.
The Oath administered to Priests and Priestesses of Mendes was equally unequivocal. The entire Ceremony of Ordination is sworn not to be revealed to the profane, but I think this specific passage is justifiably quoted here:
“Advance to the altar of Hell, that the eye of Our Lord Satan may seize upon you. As your mind is revealed to the Lord of This World, do you affirm your cause with Satan and accept of your free will his eternal Priesthood?
“I bring your hand to that of Azazel, High Herald of the Infernal Empire, who shall set upon you the seal of the Priesthood of Mendes.
“In the name of Satan, and of his Exarch upon Earth, I name you to our Fellowship and send you forth – beyond the Abyss – to walk in ways of strangeness and of beauty. You are become as Belial – knowing no master – and you are a glory to your race and a brilliance before the sight of Our Lord Satan.”
My point is simply that, as I have recounted here and elsewhere at length, this belief in and allegiance to Satan was absolutely and unequivocally at the core of the original Church of Satan. Just as pointedly the Church was vague about this in its interactions with the public, for the obvious reason that it was much more easy for it to be tolerated as a mere psycho dramatic/symbolic affair than as a deadly serious religion dedicated to the Devil, his Daemons, and Black Magic.
Thus when in 1975 Anton LaVey announced that all degrees, including the Priesthood, were henceforth for sale simply for cash, and shortly thereafter renounced his own High Priesthood as “symbolic, not literal”, he instantly destroyed precisely what had made the Church of Satan exactly and authentically what its name bespoke. After that it was simply his personal fan club, taking in money from persons who at least initially thought they were joining the authentic Church as it had existed the previous nine years. Anton LaVey knew quite well that it was no longer even a shadow of that, but went right on capitalizing on its reputation. That was fraudulent at the most essential level, of which fees and dues elicited from applicants was only a symptom.” – Michael Aquino