A Satanist's plan to conduct a "black mass" next month at the Oklahoma City Civic Center was met with public outcry and a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the city's Catholic Archdiocese. But while the outcry persists, VICE News has learned that the lawsuit was just withdrawn.
Adam Daniel's Dakhma of Angra Mainyu, a Satanic group he founded in 2011, will hold the mass on September 21. Angra Mainyu is a mythical entropic spirit that frees mankind through destruction; Daniels described it as essentially a conceptual antecedent of the devil.
The original preparations for the ceremony involved a Satanic deacon throwing sacred Catholic wafers on the floor and stomping on them. The wafers are the Holy Eucharist, embodying the body of Christ — and their use (or abuse) was a sticking point for Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley.
As the group's website puts it, "The consecrated host is corrupted by sexual fluids then it becomes the sacrifice of the mass."
"The specific Satanic ritual known as a 'black mass' is intended as a deliberate attack on the Catholic Mass as well as the foundational beliefs of all Christians with the stated purpose of mocking the Catholic faith," Coakley said in a statement.
He had previously implored city and state officials to prevent the staging of the event, but the Civic Center had signed a contract with Daniels and had no choice but to allow the mass, explaining that it was protected by the First Amendment.
Coakley then filed suit Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court alleging that, under Catholicism's Code of Canon Law, the consecrated wafers Daniels had obtained for the ceremony belong to the Catholic Church, as do all wafers that have been blessed by a priest.
"If the unauthorized individual has possession of a consecrated host, it must have been procured, either by that person or by another, by illicit means: by theft, fraud, wrongful taking, or another form of misappropriation," said the complaint.
'All I'm trying to do is free people's minds and allow them to live as they want.'
Daniels told VICE News that he was able to obtain the wafers from a priest in Turkey, who was apparently unaware of his intentions.
"They are claiming that I have stolen their property, which I have not," he said. "I had consecrated wafers mailed to me from Turkey."
Judge Bryan C. Dixon quickly issued a temporary order forbidding Daniels or anyone "under Daniels' control" from "concealing, damaging, destroying, or removing" the wafers from Oklahoma County.
Daniels gave the disputed wafers to his lawyer pending resolution of the lawsuit. Though he was optimistic about winning the case, he informed VICE News that he had agreed on Thursday to hand over the wafers in exchange for the lawsuit being dropped. A lawyer for the Archdiocese confirmed that Daniel's attorney had surrendered the wafers to Church officials in the afternoon.
"It's a tremendous victory for decency and all religions, and I praise the archbishop's leadership and courage," Coakley's lawyer Michael Caspino told VICE News. "It will be dropped because the only thing the lawsuit was asking for was the Eucharist."
Caspino added that the event now had "no significance without the Eucharist being there."
Daniels seemed undaunted, however.
"We will use the traditional coarse black bread used in Satanic rituals," he said.
Daniels previously went by the alias Adam Smith until he was revealed to be a sex offender by another Satanist in 2010. Daniels said that the charges stemmed from "inappropriate touching" of an inmate that took place while he was serving as a guard at a correctional center in McLoud, Oklahoma.
Daniels regrouped and now claims a flock of several dozen Satanists. He said that the Civic Center had already sold 42 tickets for the black mass event space, which can seat about 80 people. He expects to have a near-packed house for the event.
"The black mass is a basic Satanic ritual," he explained. "It's a ritual based on the Catholic mass. Instead of being served, the wafer is stomped by the deacon."
To get around nudity laws, the flesh altar — normally a nude female — will be clothed. A Satanic nun who would normally urinate directly into a chamber pot will instead use "a device that's hooked up to her that will simulate urination with vinegar," Daniels said.
The Archdiocese is disturbed by the entire proceedings, but was willing to withdraw its complaint in exchange for the contested wafers — meaning the court will not consider whether the Catholic Church can in fact lay legal claim to all of the world's "consecrated hosts."
Oklahoma City is no stranger to Satanic controversy. In January, a New York-based congregation calling itself the Satanic Temple announced that it would construct a monument dedicated to the Devil in front of the Oklahoma State courthouse. The group was able to raise $30,000 through crowdsourcing and have commissioned a sculptor. Because there is already is a stone replica of the ten commandments on the lawn, the Satanic Temple argues that it is entitled to build their own statue. The Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU has meanwhile filed suit over the ten commandments structure, and state officials have issued a moratorium on permits for any new monuments.
Daniels said that he understood why Oklahoma City's 120,000 Catholics are up in arms over his black mass event.
"But I'm offended at the fact that they cultivate these dogmas and false morals and enslavement upon man to get them to do what they want them to do," he said. "All I'm trying to do is free people's minds and allow them to live as they want."
Daniels wasn't always a Satanist. He said that he turned to the dark faith in 1999 after a man high on PCP and heroin tried to kill him. The soul-searching that followed the incident evidently led him to the bosom of Beelzebub.
Although there's a petition urging the Civic Center to cancel the event, the lawsuit was the only legal challenge that threatened it.
"Our plan is to continue to move forward and fight for our rights as a religious entity and practice our religion," Daniels said.
Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford
Photo via Flickr