The Devil has been accused of creating many things, including rock and roll, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, and list-based Internet infotainment. But you might be surprised by the things around you that have been seriously accused of being the diabolical work of Satan.
Although the ancient Greeks used a fork-like utensil when carving meat, it wasn’t until the seventh century when it appeared in the Middle East as an eating utensil. When the doge of Venice married a Byzantine princess in the 11th century, her use of golden forks to eat was met with fearful suspicion by the Italian population. Utensil history book Feeding Desire says, “Food was a gift from God, and to use an artificial means of conveying it to the mouth implied that this heavenly gift was unfit to be touched by human hands.” When she died of the plague, many thought it was God’s punishment.
There was a great deal of suspicion around the resemblance of the fork to the Devil’s pitchfork, which was probably borrowed from portrayals of Greek and Roman gods. It would be a few centuries until the fork was accepted in Europe, and even then, it was considered suspicious or effeminate by many for a long time. England’s first fork enthusiast, Thomas Coryat, was mocked for his praise for the fork, which he saw as more sanitary. He was dubbed “Furcifer,” a Latin neologism that means “fork-bearer” and sounds suspiciously similar to “Lucifer.”
9 Musical Instruments
There is a common belief within Islamic tradition that musical instruments were invented by Satan because he was jealous of the singing voice of Da’ud, or the biblical David. Within the same tradition, it’s alternatively stated that Tubal, a descendant of Cain, invented the lute, tambourine, and flute. A Syrian tradition holds that the instruments were invented by the daughters of Cain to celebrate the death of Abel. While other Muslims claim that there are no outright prohibitions of music in the Quran or hadiths and that it can be performed for the glory of God, ultraconservative interpretations hold all music to be haram.
In some schools of Islam, music is believed to cause ulcers, diabetes, and madness while retarding spiritual and ethical progress. Umayyad caliph Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez once wrote, “Let your first lesson for them be the hatred of musical instruments that come from Satan and end with the wrath of Allah; for it reached me from trustworthy sources that attending a place where music and its instruments are played grows hypocrisy in the heart as water makes plants grow.”
There is also a tradition within Christianity that depicts Satan as a musician, based on passages from the book of Ezekiel stating that Satan was the cherub in charge of music in Heaven before the Fall, and he retains those skills, exerting a dangerous influence over the musical world today. Ezekiel 28:13 says of Satan, “The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” This suggests that power of percussion and pipe instruments was woven into Satan’s very being. That said, this interpretation is somewhat speculative, as there are few other references in the Bible to musical instruments in Heaven, and it is unclear what Satan’s duties were before the Fall.
While there is a venerable tradition of Christian socialism, and some see left-wing ideology as a reflection of the teachings of Jesus, some right-wing Christians believe that socialism has its roots in the machinations of Satan. According to the hard-right website Canada Free Press, the foundations of socialism lie in the heresy of Joachim of Flora, which claimed that history was divided into the ages of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just as Joachim believed that the church would wither away to create a spiritual utopia, so did Marx believe that the state would wither away and lead to a material utopia.
Proponents of socialism being the work of the Devil highlight the rejection of God in the writings of anarchists like Bakunin and Proudhon, as well as the anti-God poetry of a young Karl Marx. Bakunin wrote, “In this revolution we will have to awaken the Devil in the people, to stir up the basest passions. Our mission is to destroy, not to edify. The passion of destruction is a creative passion.”
Proudhon, meanwhile, was more direct:
Come, Satan, come, thou the calumniated of priests and of kings! Let me embrace thee, let me press thee to my bosom! Long is it that I have known thee, and long hast thou known me! Thy works, O blessed one of my heart! not always are they beautiful and good; but they alone give a meaning to the universe, and save it from absurdity. What would man be without thee? A beast.
It’s further argued that leftist ideology represents a rejection of the Ten Commandments. Communist states reject God and create false idols in the form of personality cults. Historically, they’ve dismissed holy days, encouraged children to report their parents to the authorities for political sedition, murdered millions in gulags, and built their entire economic systems on theft and slavery.
The Providence Foundation claims that Satan invented socialism in an attempt to seize control of the Earth. Control of the Earth had been inherited by Adam but then stolen by Satan until Jesus came and returned control of the Earth to mankind. Satan plots to use the state to take back control of the Earth through welfare states, thus putting all of mankind into bondage and delaying the establishment of God’s Kingdom.
The Spaniards were initially alarmed and confused by tobacco. Columbus was unimpressed when he was given it as a gift by natives, later complaining that for some of his men, “It was not within their power to refrain from indulging in the habit.” The first Spaniard to actually see natives smoking were reportedly interpreter Luis de Torres and seaman Rodrigo de Jerez, who soon took up the habit himself. In 1498, Jerez took six crates of tobacco leaves back to Barcelona, but his habit of breathing smoke alarmed the locals, who suspected the Devil was at work. Jerez was then arrested by the Inquisition and spent the next several years in prison.
King James I considered tobacco an invention of the Devil, writing a screed called “A Counterblaste to Tobacco,” calling it a disgusting habit of godless savages and worse—of Frenchmen and Spaniards. Smoking was considered a deadly sin in Russia and the Middle East, and Pope Clement VIII threatened anyone smoking in a holy place with excommunication.
6 The Telephone
Writer Ambrose Bierce once defined the telephone as “an invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.” He was being satirical, but when the telephone was invented, there were many who viewed it with suspicion and suspected a diabolical origin. When the telephone was first introduced in Sweden, many rural folks feared it was magical and that telephone wires would attract lightning or evil spirits. Preachers outright decried the telephone as an instrument of the Devil, and lines were often pulled down or sabotaged by irate farmers.
The Amish and Old Order Mennonites of Pennsylvania had a similar view. Their societies were informed by gelassenheit, a sense of belonging and separation from the outside world driven by dress, language, tradition, nonverbal communication, and a moral code. New forms of communication were perceived as a threat to face-to-face communication, which enforced the social order. One Mennonite reported an elder gravely warning, “There goes the devil’s wires.”
Ethiopian journalist Paulos Gno Gno wrote about the introduction of the telephone at the court of the Emperor Menelik:
The first telephone was installed in Menelik’s palace in 1889 and the news of the displeasure among many clergymen who resented the new technology finally reached the Emperor’s ears. Eight representatives of the clergy approached the throne of Menelik and appealed to the Emperor that the telephone in the palace was in fact the work of SeyTan—the Devil and that it should be removed from the palace and destroyed in public.
Menelik then informed the delegates that their concern was “legitimate” and he will get back to them the next day. Subsequently, he called up his nobility and the Patriarch and bitterly complained that the clergy is interfering in his vision of growth for his country by claiming that the telephone technology is the work of the Devil. He went [on] to say that the priests are bent on sabotaging his work and are—in the process—forcing him to even consider abandoning the Orthodox faith just to distance himself from the backward clergy. Upon hearing such a shocking declaration from the Emperor, the nobility and the Patriarch rushed to assure the Emperor that they will calm down the priests and begged him to stay with the Orthodox faith.
It is perhaps not particularly surprising that gambling was decried as a great sin in the Middle Ages. It was seen as encouraging blasphemy and idolatry, and some gamblers were said to substitute the name of Decius, the god of dice, in place of God in prayers. According to writer Bernadette Paton, the Sienese friars believed that dicing was a form of satanic worship and that gamblers would “obey the will of the dice above that of God.”
John Mirk, a 14th-century English prior, concurred, saying, “What shall we say of the priest who, while flinging the dice upon the gambling table, at the same time flings his soul to the Devil! He makes of the gaming table an altar for himself, upon which he offers up the goods of the Church to the Devil and the goods of others too. With false oaths and other crafts of deception he toils to win profit.”
Dominican preacher Gabriel de Barletta said, “Just as God invented the twenty-one letters of the alphabet, so the Devil invented the dice, on which he placed twenty-one points.” A 14th-century French poem entitled “Du Jeu de Dez” claimed that the Devil convinced a Roman senator to invent dice. Dice symbolized the Fall, and each pip on the dice represented spite for a certain holy element—one for God, two for God and the Virgin Mary, three for the Trinity, four for evangelists, five for the wounds of Christ, and six for the six days of Creation.
4 The Smurfs
During the 1980s, rumors spread among the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Smurfs were satanic. In 2008, one person claiming to be a former Jehovah’s Witness posted on Yahoo! Answers about hearing rumors of Smurf dolls making foul-mouthed remarks and coming to life to bite children. Others claiming to be ex-Witnesses also mentioned the same rumors on a Reddit comment thread, along with another unfounded rumor that the word “Smurf” meant “demon” in German.
In 2011, televangelist Dorothy Spaulding was asked a question about whether the My Little Pony cartoon was satanic, to which she answered, “I kinda think it is, but I’m not sure.” She then proceeded to rant about the Smurfs and their propensity toward Satanic pentagrams. She also mentioned a child who had trouble sleeping until their family took all the Smurf-related sheets, covers, and curtains out of their room and burned them and then anointed the room with holy oils and asked the angels to clear it out.
One creation science website argues that Papa Smurf represents Karl Marx (complete with a communist red suit) and that the Smurfs’ closed market economy resembles that of some communist societies. The red suit also signifies Papa Smurf as the Grand Dragon of the Smurfy Ku Klux Klan, complete with a pointy white headdress. The site also seems to believe that the Smurfs worship Gargamel, who is clearly deeply involved with the occult.
3 The Cross
Adherents of the Church of the Great God believe that the symbol of the Cross is not Christian at all but rather a trick of the Devil derived from old pagan traditions. The symbol for the Babylonian nature god Tammuz was said to be a Babylonian letter “T,” which resembled a cross. They claim that the cross was not publicly used to symbolize Christianity until the time of Emperor Constantine, implying that the vision he allegedly saw on the battlefield came from Satan, not God.
The adherents claim that the Romans had two methods of crucifixion. One involved the stake with a crossbar that we are most familiar with. The other involved tying prisoners to a stake and thrashing them with iron-tipped strips of leather until their flesh was stripped or their entrails visible. They were then forced to drag the stake to a place of execution to be fastened or impaled upon it. They say that the Bible does not clearly state which form of crucifixion Jesus suffered, and besides, why should a method of execution become a religious symbol anyway? The Cross was clearly popularized by Satan to fool the world into worshiping a false symbol.
According to Nigerian evangelist Evang Fumilayo Adebayo, the game alternatively known as “soccer” or “football” was invented as a form of idolatry by the Devil himself. After mankind sought to reach Heaven by building the Tower of Babel, God confused their languages and scattered them to the winds, or so the Scriptures say. Soccer is a game that unites classes, nations, and religions, with people idolizing their favorite players and teams. This, she argues, is part of an agenda to create a one-world government and the rise of the Antichrist.
She claims that there is a spirit or god of soccer, to which there is a temple dedicated in Brazil, and that this spirit is Satan. The spirit is said to bring prosperity and success, but it has a dark secret. She says, “You love football because you have been possessed by the demon of football. Almost everybody in the world had been possessed by this demon—only a few are left out. Many were possessed from the womb or as infants.”
Soccer fandom is a form of idolatry that encourages immoral behavior and distracts people from the worship of God. It also encourages other sins, such as foul language, violence, anger, gambling, drunkenness, sorcery, animal sacrifice, and homosexuality. She refers to the testimony of Ghanaian teenager Emmanuel Agyarko, who claimed to have had a vision of football fans and national football teams using charms, oils, and occult rings while being led by bizarre demons through a tunnel leading to eternal Hellfire.
In 1632, a Puritan named William Prynne wrote Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge, arguing that the theater was a sinful invention of the Devil. He was particularly incensed by the waste of quality printing paper for plays rather than for Christian works: “Some Play-books since I first undertook this subject, are growne from Quarto into Folio; which yet beare so good a price and sale, that I cannot but with griefe relate it, they are now new printed in farre better paper than most Octavo or Quarto Bibles. Shackspeer’s Plaies are printed in the best Crowne paper far better than most Bibles.”
Actors and playwrights were “whore-masters, ruffians, drunkards, and godless” and were obviously engaged in acts of Devil worship. He took a step too far when he referred to actresses as “whores”; King Charles I’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, had recently performed in a pastoral masque play. According to a handwritten note found in a copy of Histriomastix, “For writing this book, Prynne was sentenced by the Star Chamber to pay a fine of £5,000, to be disbarred to lose his ears in the pillory.”
In 1910, Pastor Isaac M. Haldeman posted an advertisement in The New York Times claiming that theater was an invention of Satan and boasting he had never seen a play in his life. He said, “They are out of my life along with dancing and card playing. All of them are worldly and do harm.” This made sense, given his worldview; he also feared the ungodly influence of a local subway stop and declared that women’s suffrage would lead to the area being “flooded with unintelligence, superstition, and lawlessness, under the direction of alien forces.”
David Tormsen wasn’t invented by the Devil, but he is a manifestation of Mara. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.