The Dangerous Rise of Demonism

Open celebration of evil spirits is growing in popular culture. It’s not just harmless fun.

Summoning demons has never been so fun!” That blurb from A Children’s Book of Demons is an apt description of the world we live in. Outright demonism is cool, trendy, even glamorous.

“After-school Satan clubs” are available at a handful of elementary schools. They even have a theme song: “Satan’s not an evil guy, he wants you to learn and question why.” Young witches post videos on how to get into paganism on TikTok. People with “multiple personalities” get likes for switching between different minds in front of the camera.

Two transgender men dominated world headlines by dressing as Satan for the Grammy Awards. One up-and-coming singer, also transgender, has the name of his favorite demon tattooed on his forehead. One rapper released a music video that showed him descending to hell and giving Satan a lap dance. It was previewed in a Super Bowl commercial—and followed up by “Satan Shoes”—a Nike knock-off that allowed people to buy the trainers Satan was shown wearing, which contain actual human blood.

Movies and video games involving demonic themes have been around for years but are getting worse and worse—and more and more accepted.

What is going on?

Are Demons Real?

Satan and demonism have become a part of our news cycle. The rise of all these demonic themes has led many to ask, Are demons real?

America’s Christians are split on whether or not Satan exists. Polls generally put the split at around 50/50. That’s not too surprising; American Christians are similarly split over whether or not God exists. One study reached the bizarre conclusion that more American Christians believe in Satan than in God.

What does the Bible say?

The Gospels record Jesus Christ regularly being confronted by and casting out demons (Matthew 4:24; 8:16; Mark 1:32, 34, 39; Luke 4:41). He delegated similar authority to His disciples (Matthew 10:8; Mark 3:15; 6:13; Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17). Demon-influenced people are encountered regularly in the book of Acts.

Some demons are violent and aggressive (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1-5; Luke 8:27-29). Others are annoying (Acts 16:16-18). Some people possessed with demons suffer seizures and loss of control (Matthew 17:14-16); some deliberately cut, mutilate or otherwise hurt themselves (Mark 5:5; Luke 9:42). They often make loud cries and screams (Luke 4:33-35). Some cause physical disabilities (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Luke 11:14). Multiple demons can possess the same person (Luke 8:30; Mark 16:9).

If you believe the Bible is accurate in its record of the life of Jesus Christ, you have to believe that demons are real.

The Bible shows that these spirit beings have a profound influence on this world. Often that influence is invisible. But as it grows stronger, it is becoming plainer.

2 Corinthians 4:4 says Satan is “the god of this world.” He subtly influences everyone in it (Ephesians 2:2). This has been the case throughout mankind’s history—but the book of Revelation says things get much worse at the end of that history. Revelation 12:12 describes a time when Satan “knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

Satan’s time as god of this world is almost over. After a “war in heaven” (verse 7), which Satan lost, “the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (verse 9).

God warns, “… Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath …” (verse 12).

“This verse tells us that Satan and the fallen angels—millions of demons—were driven out of heaven and cast down to Earth and are now confined here!” writes Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in his free book America Under Attack. “Never before has this world been so infested with demons. Look around: The evil proliferating in every direction has a source, and this prophecy exposes it.”

This is the spiritual reality behind the shocking news and modern trends.

It’s important to know that something does not have to look obviously evil to be evil. Satan can come as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Something can appear wholesome, even appear as though it is from God, yet be from the devil.

But as society is driven further from God, there is less reason to hide or disguise the evil. This is why outright Satanism is now clearly on display.

Multiple Personalities

Perhaps the most naked display of demonism comes from the “multiplicity” movement. Vice described the concept in a May 2015 article “Are Multiple Personalities Always a Disorder?” with an introduction through the lens of Falah Liang, who had sensed the presence of a birdlike man in her mind since she was 5. This presence was joined by others as she grew older.

Vice writes: “A ‘multiplicity system’ refers to the group within the body itself (i.e. ‘I’m part of a multiplicity system’). The system might consist of two people, or it might consist of 200. … The multiplicity community insists on being seen as healthy—even normal. This is our reality, they argue. Why are you imposing your reality onto us? Dissociative Identity Disorder (did)—and its controversial precursor, Multiple Personality Disorder—are terms roundly rejected by the community, and most of them don’t feel that they belong in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (dsm) at all.”

“With did, it’s more like a person’s body is a boardinghouse filled with many guests, and you’re not quite sure who will come to the door when you knock,” states a March 2019 Vice article.

Some of these “multiplicity systems” are so large they think of themselves as a city rather than a person. Others push for more “rights” for other “multiplicity systems” through groups like “Plural Activism.”

Those who embrace did so strongly are rare, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 estimates that 1.5 percent of Americans experience it each year. Other estimates say that between 0.01 and 1 percent of the population are affected.

Some have gone on to create a following for themselves on TikTok or YouTube. The most prominent has over 1 million followers. The hashtag #DiD—which will bring up videos of people openly influenced by demons—has 2.5 billion views. One video of a “system” switching between personalities, and the follow-up discussion, got 100 million views. “I get so many comments from people saying, ‘Why does everyone have did all of a sudden?’” said one “host” of “a did system of 12.”

Since did became a TikTok phenomenon, “all of a sudden, all of my adolescent patients think that they have this,” psychologist Naomi Torres-Mackie told Teen Vogue last year.

The TikTok videos make these multiple personalities seem cool and glamorous. The reality, as Teen Vogue admits, is “truly scary”—ranging from amnesia to fits and seizures. Over 70 percent of outpatients being treated for did have attempted suicide.

Letting in a bunch of demons makes a person very miserable.

Witchcraft and Paganism

The Bible links witchcraft, wizardry and the occult with demonism. Some modern witches would make this connection themselves; others consider themselves the worshipers of nature.

When God commanded ancient Israel to avoid those who get into magic and the occult, He also warned against those who “have familiar spirits” (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6)—who talk to demons. In the most detailed example of witchcraft, the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28, King Saul went to a woman who had a “familiar spirit.” This woman claimed to be putting Saul in contact with the dead Prophet Samuel (verses 11-15). The Bible establishes that the dead do not know anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). He could not have been talking to Samuel: Instead, a demon was impersonating him.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul stated that pagan religions directly worship devils (1 Corinthians 10:20).

Members of the Shakti Sings choir sing as druids, pagans and revelers gather in the center of Stonehenge at a winter solstice ceremony.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Modern witchcraft, Wicca and neo-paganism are all forms of demon worship. And they are on the rise.

Early surveys estimated that in 1990 about 8,000 Americans identified themselves as Wiccans—a form of witchcraft. The 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study estimated that 1 to 1.5 million were Wiccan or pagan. That’s around the same number as attend the Presbyterian church (1.4 million). Even this may undercount. Wicca is quickly becoming yesterday’s movement; modern witches are more likely to call themselves “eclectic witches,” picking and choosing for themselves what crafts they practice.

Pagan beliefs are even more common. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults hold at least one of the following “new age” spiritualist beliefs:

  • that spiritual energy can be located in physical things
  • in psychics
  • in reincarnation
  • in astrology

The “psychic services industry,” which “includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading, palmistry, among other metaphysical services,” is estimated to be worth over $2 billion annually. Celebrities like the singer Adele have said they use healing crystals. Witchcraft accessories like Tarot cards or supposedly magical symbols can be bought in mainstream stores.

Modern witchcraft, Wicca and neo-paganism are all forms of demon worship. And they are on the rise.

Even practices as obviously occult as using mediums are becoming mainstream. Prince Harry said he contacted a medium to try to contact his dead mother. He is not alone—1 in 5 Americans say they have contacted a psychic or medium. About the same proportion believe that mediums have the ability to contact the dead.

But this movement is also receiving a glamorous online following. “WitchTok” has become a major phenomenon on the TikTok video-sharing platform. Videos with tags like #WitchTok have amassed 30 billion views. That’s more than tags such as #Biden (8.5 billion) and equal with #Kardashians. Other tags like #babywitch—helping people get into witchcraft—have picked up hundreds of millions.

The Transgender Movement

Perhaps the most blatant evidence of demonism is seen in the rapidly rising transgender movement.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Paul warns of many departing from the faith, listening to “doctrines of devils [demons].” What are these doctrines? Included in his list is “forbidding to marry.”

The Bible reveals that demons are fallen angels. They left their first estate (Jude 6) and rebelled against God. In some passages, demons are referred to as the devil’s angels (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9). Like the righteous angels, the demons are sexless and genderless (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25).

As Herbert W. Armstrong explained in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex (request your free copy), God created marriage and family for human beings for a profound purpose—to teach us wonderful truths about our potential to be born as sons of God. The demons have neither this potential nor the ability to reproduce themselves, and so they hate it.

For centuries they have influenced religions to believe that sex is shameful, that being single is better than being married, and that priests should be celibate—none of which is taught in the Bible. Now this hatred is manifested more clearly than ever, with people mutilating their own bodies and taking on “gender neutral” pronouns—imitating the genderless demons.

One in four lgbt youth use gender-neutral pronouns. This movement is even inventing new pronouns. One of the most popular is “fae, faer, faeself.” Fae is essentially a pagan word for a demon or spirit. These transgender people want others to refer to them as demons. In fact, pagans are even complaining about the lgbt movement appropriating their word.

Even more closely related to demons is the “two spirit” movement. Billed as a native American version of the lgbt movement, they believe that having two spirits in them is the cause of their homosexual or transgender behavior. The two-spirit movement now has its own flag and is taught in schools in California and Canada.

More extreme still is the otherkin or fictionkin movements, where people identify as animals or fictitious creatures, like dragons, vampires or elves. The Bible shows that many angels—and therefore demons—look like animals (Ezekiel 1:10). Satan himself is described as a dragon. Some will even get extreme tattoos or piercings to look more like the animal they believe they are. Some will even call themselves “demonkin”—identifying as demons.

lgbt individuals, especially transgender ones, are heavily represented in other open manifestations of demonism. Those with multiple personalities are often transgender. A scroll through #WitchTok videos shows they are overwhelmingly from the “lgbt community.” A 2015 Pew survey found that lgbt people were twice as likely to have a non-Christian religion—including paganism and Wicca.

Gateways to Demonism

There is a spiritual reality behind the rise of demonism. But there are other, direct causes. Certain behaviors open up the mind to demons, and these are on rise.

“Under normal circumstances …, no one need fear a demon may take possession” of their minds, wrote Mr. Armstrong. Generally it can only happen if “you open your mind by letting it be blank, or under control of another, or you lose your mind in an emotional angry rage” (Worldwide News, December 1980).

Certain religious rituals are designed to let the mind go blank and allow a demon to take control. But far more common today are mind-altering drugs that break down the mind’s defenses and can allow in demons. In 2021, over 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 20 million Americans age 12 and over had a substance disorder. There have been some well-publicized examples of addicts having their whole personality change—and they have gone on to violently attack others. One such individual videoed himself attacking and then eating his homosexual partner. “There is such things as monsters, demons and ghosts,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “They live inside of us, and sometimes they win.”

Dabbling in the occult is another way to invite in demons. God admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). Today, it’s mass entertainment. Harry Potter opened the mainstream floodgates. Half of Americans ages 18 to 34 have read at least one of these books; 61 percent of Americans have watched one of the movies. Books and movies about zombies, werewolves, vampires and witches are common.

A homeless man, 24, smokes fentanyl in Seattle, Washington.
John Moore/Getty Images

Video games can also prove a potent gateway—they are highly addictive and often coupled with violent or demonic themes.

The Bible reveals that music has a powerful connection to the spirit world. Uplifting music from David could cause demons to leave (1 Samuel 16:14-18). On the other hand, the Bible says Lucifer was created with musical pipes—innate musical ability (Ezekiel 28:13). He is the real author of depraved music, and an evil musical environment can open up one to demonic influence (article, page 7).

Pornography and perverted sex can be another gateway, with the demons’ hatred of godly principles of marriage and family (article, page 35).

1 Timothy 4:3 also labels vegetarianism—forbidding to eat the meats that God has proclaimed fit for human consumption—as a “doctrine of [demons].” Is it a coincidence that vegetarianism—or a reduced meat “flexitarian” diet—is being pushed by the elites of this world? Physical health can affect mental attitude. Pushing people into unhealthy diets and lifestyles can make them more open to evil influences.

We need to protect our minds, and the minds of our children, from these kinds of influences. Instead, they are given free rein.

Certain behaviors open up the mind to demons, and these are on rise.

Isaiah 57:5 gives God’s verdict on our society today: “Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree, Slaying the children in the valleys, Under the clefts of the rocks?” (New King James Version). Today, lust draws many people into the worship of false gods and demons.

“Anciently the Israelites sometimes physically sacrificed their own children,” writes Mr. Flurry in Isaiah’s End-Time Vision. “Today we sacrifice our youth spiritually when we give them no uplifting vision. We sacrifice them to sexual lust and fornication. The Internet alone does $10 billion to $13 billion worth of business in pornography every year just in America! It is the most profitable online business. We also sacrifice our children to demoniacal music, drugs and greed. In the nations of Israel, this is done even before our youth are taught to use their minds!” Sadly, these trends have reached such extremes that today, some children have become possessed.

A God More Powerful Than Demons

While we should not go anywhere near demons or demonic influences, we have no need to fear demons. Throughout the Bible, God reveals Himself as vastly more powerful than Satan and the fallen angels. Demons had to obey God’s ministers, and Christ “beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:17-18). The demons tremble with fear before God’s power (James 2:19).

So powerful is God that He can use Satan for His own ends. In the book of Job, God allowed Satan to bring great suffering on Job. But it was to help Job overcome and grow—and the book ends with God blessing Job more than ever before.

God is allowing the demonic attack today. But though the demons are in total rebellion against Him, it is all to His glory. It will lead to mankind learning the horrible consequences of rebelling against God.