British military enlists first Satanist
(Reuters, October 24, 2004)
Britain's Armed Forces have enlisted their first Satanist after a naval technician serving on a frigate was granted permission to practice his beliefs while at sea, the Ministry of Defence says.
Defending the decision to allow a Satanist among the Royal Navy's ranks, a ministry spokesman said on Sunday it was an "equal opportunities employer" and did not discriminate against specific religious beliefs.
"He went to his commanding officer with a request to practice his beliefs on board his ship and it was granted ... We believe he is the first avowed Satanist to serve in the military, but there is no official register of beliefs," the spokesman said.
The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said Chris Cranmer, 24, from Edinburgh would be allowed to have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan should he be killed in action.
The Church of Satan was founded in the 1960s, but Satanism can refer to a diverse set of practices that include viewing Satan as a force of nature.
Members of the church, which rejects Christian ideas of God and the Devil, follow 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth.
The belief system has been condemned as a cult by some religious groups and at least one opposition politician expressed dismay after Cranmer won permission to practice Satanism aboard a Royal Navy ship.
"I am utterly shocked by this," said Conservative parliamentarian Anne Widdecombe.
"Satanism is wrong. Obviously the private beliefs of individuals anywhere including the armed forces are their own affair but I hope it doesn't spread," she said.