Sometimes, there really is a government conspiracy. Agents play on the fears and superstitions of the targeted population to gain an advantage. A new study claims that British intelligence officers created a Satanic Panic in Northern Ireland war zones in the 70s.
British military intelligence agents in Northern Ireland used fears about demonic possessions, black masses and witchcraft as part of a psychological war against emerging armed groups in the Troubles in the 1970s, a study says.
Prof Richard Jenkins, from Sheffield University, spoke to military intelligence officers, including the head of the army’s “black operations” in Northern Ireland, Captain Colin Wallace.
Wallace told Jenkins that they deliberately stoked up a satanic panic from 1972 to 1974, even placing black candles and upside-down crucifixes in derelict buildings in some of Belfast’s war zones.
Then, army press officers leaked stories to newspapers about black masses and satanic rituals taking place from republican Ardoyne in north Belfast to the loyalist-dominated east of the city.
Jenkins has a new book out called Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74. In it, he claims the paranoia spun off of popular films like The Exorcist and was affected by the fear of the church to claims of demonic influence. The tales enhanced the idea that human life was not valued. It was also useful for keeping kids in at night and clear of buildings used by military and police.
Loyalist paramilitary groups were already carrying out ritualistic-style torture killings of Catholics and political opponents at the time.
Jenkins writes that military intelligence sought to create a “subtle” link in the public’s minds between these true-to-life horrors of the Troubles and something more supernaturally evil as part of its propaganda campaign.
In the U.S., the Satanic Panic bore down on child care centers and neighborhood fears of Satanic worshippers abusing children and animals. There is no evidence that there was a widespread surge in devil worship or such crimes and many claimed cases of it have been shown to be erroneous, bolstered by a witch-hunt mentality. Again, religious figures fanned the fear of this old-time evil, and they STILL do today.