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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 October, 2004, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Navy approves first ever Satanist
Type 22 frigate
Mr Cranmer will be allowed to perform Satanic rituals
The British Armed Forces has officially recognised its first registered Satanist, a newspaper reports.

Naval technician Chris Cranmer, 24, has been allowed to register by the captain of HMS Cumberland, based at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth.

The move will mean that he will now be allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board the vessel.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cranmer realised he was a Satanist nine years ago.

Religious values

Mr Cranmer said that was when he stumbled across a copy of the Satanic Bible, written by Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey.

He said: "I then read more and more and came to realise I'd always been a Satanist, just simply never knew."

Mr Cranmer, who is from Edinburgh, is now lobbying the Ministry of Defence to make Satanism a registered religion in the armed forces.

The Navy should not permit Satanist practices on board its ships
Tory MP Ann Widdecombe
Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe said she was "utterly shocked" by the Royal Navy's decision.

"Satanism is wrong. Obviously the private beliefs of individuals anywhere, including the armed forces, are their own affair but I hope it doesn't spread."

She added: "The Navy should not permit Satanist practices on board its ships.

"God himself gives free will, but I would like to think that if somebody applied to the Navy and said they were a Satanist today it would raise its eyebrows somewhat."

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "We are an equal opportunities employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious values."

The path to Satan

The Church of Satan was established in San Francisco in 1966.

Mr LaVey was its high priest until his death in 1997.

Followers live by the Nine Satanic Statements, which include "Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence", "Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek" and "Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification".

Doug Harris, director of the Reachout Trust, an evangelical Christian ministry that "builds a bridge of reason" to those involved in cults and the occult, says the statements are "selfish".

"Following such tenets and working them out practically in your life seems to produce a selfish person not a member of a team," he said.

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