A reader asks about “satanic rosaries”

They write:

Hi Mark, Have you heard of the “satanic rosary” before?


Somebody at a website called “Do The Harder Thing” created a 24-page document that claims to make a convincing argument regarding the evil embedded in hundreds of thousands of cheap plastic rosaries.


Even though I find the evidence lacking and said so, a bunch of my TLM friends have opted to “not chance it” and destroy the ones they found in their homes based solely on the problematic symbolism on the crucifix.

This is very much like the situation that confronted the early Church when it came to the issue of eating meat.  Some Christians of extremely tender conscience fretted that eating meat gave them idolatry cooties, since meat in pagan cities was typically sold at market after the animal had been sacrificed to some pagan deity or other in one of the local shrines.  Their fear was that by partaking, they were somehow entering into the sacrifice to the god and committing the sin of idolatry.  Paul basically said, “Don’t worry about it.  Thank God for your meal and bless it in his Name.”  But he also said that if his brother was troubled in conscience about it, he himself would forego eating meat so as not to tempt him to violate his conscience.  Similarly, he told those who were troubled in conscience not to sit in judgment of those who were not.  (See Romans 14 for his discussion of such matters).  The point is those who ate, ate to the Lord and those who abstained, abstained to the Lord, so we should live in peace and not judge each other. Therefore those who understand Christian freedom of conscience about such matters should be gentle toward those weighed down with scruples and those filled with fear of somehow incurring ritual impurity from a cheap rosary should not appoint themselves the Inquisitors of those who disagree with their fears (and this is, by far and away, the more likely–and more toxic–problem in Traditionalist circles).

As to the objective question of whether a rosary can be “satanic”, I think it is nonsense.  Rosaries can’t give you cooties any more than hamburgers can.  Unfortunately, many Traditionalists live in such paranoid terror that they are prone to imagine devils in every nook and cranny.  And they tend to see unbelievably trivial aesthetic issues (like plastic rosaries) as being of far greater importance than big, obvious sins (such as slandering some humble rosary maker as a demon worshipper).  If I were the devil, what sort of idiot would I have to be to make thousands of rosaries that move countless Catholics to pray to the Blessed Trinity and seek his face in the stupid hope that a crucifix not to the taste of some purist might seduce and innocent to worship demons? Wbo in their right mind thinks such a thing possible, much less likely?  The real thing that is insidious and deadly to Faith is not a crudely made Rosary, but the paralyzing fear and poisonous slanders directed at innocent people praying a rosary some superstitious inquisitor declares to be “satanic” on the basis of a rumor on the net. Such spiritual oppression of the scrupulous and tender-hearted by the cocksure and inquisitorial is a far graver danger than a piece of plastic.

Am I crazy for thinking they are crazy?

Nope. You are very, very sane.  Continue trusting God and not letting these fear-filled people sit in judgment of you.  Pray for them, that they be delivered from their superstitious terror to the peace of Christ.


9 Responses

  1. I had to look into it a bit. That website is run by Jordan Burke, who seems to be part of Dan Burke’s crew, not sure of relation.

    Being one with scrupulous tendencies myself, I find it sad. Do they really suppose God would allow them to pray in sincere faith and fall thru an unseen trapdoor into possession or similar fate?

  2. People seem to seek out the devil much more than Christ in their everyday lives.

    It plays on the most satanic of temptations: to know good and evil. The devil tempts people into thinking that by knowing him, they will be better prepared to fight him.

    Even some exorcists — of all people, they should know better! — fall into this trap and tirelessly reveal what the devil says during exorcisms, because it seems to interest people a lot. They claim they can force the devil to speak the truth.

    What foolishness. Jesus called the devil the father of lies and silenced him. Devils are not mere humans. They’re angels — fallen — but angels nonetheless, and their intellect is far more vast than our human intellect can comprehend.

    Devils are cunning. And even if an exorcist could force the father of lies to speak only the truth, what good comes of it? Regardless whether the devil lies or speaks the whole truth, everything will be to his own advantage and not ours.

    And what greater advantage for the devil than to make people think that destroying a rosary and not praying it is to their spiritual benefit? What’s better than to instill magical thinking in people that certain objects are more powerful or more divine, or more blessed than others? What’s better than to make people believe they’re better than others because they know they’re praying the right kind of rosary and not those cheap plastic beads which are satanic?

    In a way it’s amazing. People claim that Jesus is all powerful, but somehow, the devil can somehow thwart God’s grace by means of imperfect item which makes your prayer less sincere and somehow makes it sinful or demonic? Horrible.

  3. The idea of accidental idolatry reminds me of those Protestants who accuse Catholics of idolatry for our belief in the Eucharist. Like, they’ll fully admit that Catholics (at least the average ones in the pews, if not the terrible horrible no good very bad clergy) sincerely believe that the Eucharist is Christ Himself, and then immediately call that belief idolatrous because, they say, the Eucharist isn’t Christ and therefore we’re worshiping something other than God. Like God somehow isn’t smart enough to know what we’re trying to do when we kneel in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

    And, really, this seeing demons behind everything is reminiscent of nothing so much as a Chick tract.

    When your idea of the proper way to be a Catholic is indistinguishable from the worst bad-faith arguments against the Catholic faith, you might want to step back, and take a few deep breaths, and reevaluate some things.

  4. My Rosary’s beads are some kind of stone, so I suppose that’s safe enough – but I have a plastic image of Our Lady sitting on the shelf behind my computer. Do you think I’m in danger? Wow! It’s been there now for two or three years.

    Perhaps I should have wrapped that in tags 🙂 This whole stuff reminds me of the – was it Billy Idol? – song: “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, ‘long as I got my plastic Jesus, sittin’ on the dashboard of my car.”

  5. I dove a bit deeper into the topic, looked up the page and checked what resources they had.
    I browsed through the document and saw what they were referring to as “satanic,” “illuminati” or “new age” crosses. To me, the design looks like somebody took some cross design from a few centuries ago and found that it could be used as a template for a basic mold. It was sufficiently ornate to be decorative, but at the same time, the details would be visible on plastic. What they describe as “variants” are actually the result of a worn mold.

    Somebody doing art history and specializing in sacred sculpture could probably identify the cross better. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cross turned out to be from late medieval period and that the symbolism was local to some random diocese in Europe and before the Council of Trent suppressed local customs in favor of universalism, so the design didn’t spread, especially not to the New World.

    What I find amusing is that, among their resources, they have a guide to scrupulosity (to be clear: how to battle scrupulosity), which seems (I’ve only browsed through it) to be very reasonable. So I don’t think scruples made them publish the guide to satanic rosaries.

    Finally, the page links to something called “Demonic Doorways Research Library.” I didn’t click that. I’ve known people who obsess over the risk of possession and they all had something in common: they strained gnats and swallowed camels. This is precisely what I referred to as exorcists exposing the revelation of demons during exorcisms “to the benefit of the faithful.”
    Whatever the devils say, whether it’s lies or truth, is exclusively to their own benefit.

    An equally compelling argument can be made that the satanic thing is to destroy the beads and stop praying the rosary and that’s the sole goal of the devil.

    Some time ago I’ve heard that it’s possible to be possessed by a demon of (false) devotion. So the person possessed is going to pray a lot more, attend Mass a lot more and practice personal devotion and mortification, but it won’t be beneficial for the person.
    I found it very attractive at the time, and started looking for signs of that possession in others. What a fool I was! There I was, the “enlightened” Catholic who “knows” that the old devotion practices are somehow wrong and that one should pray so and so. How prideful of me!
    It took me a while to understand that it’s load of gibberish. I mean, it’s certainly possible for personal devotion to be accessory to sin when a person abdicates their duties, or when it leads to judging others for their perceived lack of appropriate devotion, or when it causes one to feel morally superior to others and justified in rightful anger against them. But it doesn’t require a demon to possess somebody to lead to it.

  6. As a self-proclaimed Trad who wasted far too much time indulging the worst of Trad culture and is trying his best to do better, I can point out at least three ways in which in this nonsense exemplifies the Toxic Traddism so many of my confreres either refuse to acknowledge or try to paint as something good and holy:

    1. Treating objects or technologies as evil in themselves.
    2. Being obsessed with the demonic or having a habit of attributing to the preternatural what is actually natural.
    3. Adhering to wacky, baseless conspiracy theories by instinct and never attributing to coincidence or weakness what can be attributed to malicious conspiring by evildoers.

    When Traditionis Custodes came out, my archbishop made crystal clear that he had no intention of shutting down the two main TLM communities in his area (including my old parish), for one simple reason: Thus far, we have managed NOT to be a source of division and strife for the archdiocese, probably because most of us know better than to push the kind of garbage above. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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