Here is the final report given by the OU student:
April 10th, 2014
Damned and Misunderstood
Imbedded in the first amendment, American citizens are guaranteed the constitutional right to exercise their religion of choice. Despite this right, many religious groups in the U.S. are still subject to religious persecution by the masses. With Christianity as the dominating religion in the United States, many other religious groups in the country may feel their rights are threatened as a minority. Oklahoma, located in the buckle of the Bible belt, is a prime example of a state that is biased against non-Christian ideals. While Oklahoma is home to many other religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism, perhaps one of the more misunderstood religions is what society refers to as “Satanism”.
The media industry has transformed this religion into a smokescreen of an angry, mean-spirited, devil-worshiping cult. Trying not to let this stereotype cloud my judgment, I contacted Adam B. Daniels, Head Minister of Oklahoma’s Dakhma of Angra Mainyu “Church of Ahriman”. Daniels promptly responded to my e-mail telling me that because I was not a member of the church, he could only help me so much, but graciously redirected me to his wife, Mobed Kelsey Daniels. After interviewing Mobed Kelsey, I quickly learned that the term “Satanist” was not only incorrect, but offensive terminology. Kelsey explained, “Though the word Devil came from the word Daeva, devil is connected with western paganism deemed evil by the Catholic Church. Therefore it is an inaccurate statement. Ahrimanist or Daeva worshiper is correct terminology”(Mobed Kelsey Daniels). In other words, the Satan, or the devil, that society portrays Ahrimanists to worship is that which the Catholic Church has illustrated. Instead the god in whom they worship is Angra Mainyu, an anti-cosmic god of destruction and counter-creation.
Throughout the interview I began to learn that this particular group of Ahrimanists deviate from most Satanic groups that follow the teaching of Anton LaVey. While LaVey groups tend to focus on “the devil” and act as a negative counter expression to Christianity, Ahrimanism more closely relates to the teachings of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrians identify Ahriman as the deity of destruction. In order for a change to happen, chaos must occur to destroy that which needs to be destroyed and create what needs to be instituted in the world. According to Ahrimanism, other religions will not be able to succeed, as they demand order from their followers. This enslavement does not allow for creation to occur. Mobed Kelsey justifies the reason she is drawn toward what Ahriman has to offer is because, through his destruction, the god exemplifies free will. Angra Mainyu brings freedom to people by allowing them to have their own set of morals. A strong mentality in Ahrimanism is that “self preservation is the highest law”(Mobed Kelsey Daniels). This means that there is no particular set of commandments or sins that all people are expected to abide by. Mobed Kelsey elaborates by saying, “Whatever your morals are. We advise people not to go beyond their morals, but test and push them. Again, it is a personal issue with each individual”(Mobed Kelsey Daniels).
From talking with Mobed Kelsey Daniels, it is clear that Ahrimanist’s intentions are not as sinister as society portrays them. Ahrimanism has a similar goal to other religions, which is to better the world with it’s religion. What sets apart Ahrimanism from other religions, however, is the outlet in which they use to attain that goal. While other religions use outlets such as ministry or meditation, Ahrimanists use the channel of destruction to make room for that which is new to come. After pealing back the layers from a religion that may appear frightening at first glance, it’s apparent that in addition to it’s public goal and the freedom it offers individuals from popular culture, Ahrimanism is a forward thinking, progressive religion.