Something wicked has befallen San Bernardino National Forest, if signs posted around the protected woodland in Southern California are to be believed.
Which they aren't, according to the US Forest Service.
The Department of Agriculture agency took to Twitter to debunk notices found in the region that warn: "Due to increased Satanic Cult activity in the area, camping is not advised until further notice."
The sign then screams:
SEVERAL PETS HAVE BEEN REPORTEDLY SACRIFICED IN SATANIC RITUALS
SEVERAL MISSING PERSONS REPORTS HAVE BEEN FILED WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
People regularly go missing in US national parks without the need for a nefarious explanation. North America is vast and full of treacherous remote terrain and dangerous animals like bears and mountain lions.
The flyer listed areas affected by the satanic scourge and implores visitors to call 911 "IF SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY IS OBSERVED".
But forest rangers were having none of it. Under a post titled "RUMOR CONTROL", they said: "This sign has been posted around the forest and is spreading on social media. [This] is not an official Forest Service sign, and there is no known threats of this type to visitors. Anyone with information about who is posting this sign should call 909-383-5651."
To which the Church of Satan, the Bible basher-baiting org founded in 1966 by one Anton Szandor LaVey, chimed in:
Satanism forbids harming animals and as an atheistic religion, we don’t believe there is anything to make a sacrifice to. This is the kind of Satanic Panic era nonsense that ruined countless innocent people’s lives, we appreciate your efforts to help debunk it.— The Church Of Satan (@ChurchofSatan) July 12, 2020
Which is a bit of a shame really. Satanic rituals can be fun for all the family. In the pandemic era, it's the perfect excuse to get your kid off the fondleslab to experience the wonders of nature, which, as we know, is Satan's church.
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Chanting your invocation of choice around blood-daubed sigils on the forest floor in a beautiful clearing can be easily done while observing social distancing, and a quality oversized robe will catch the majority of any nasties that may happen to splutter out of your grand magus's mouth.
Though we might be getting a bit too "orthodox" here for the Church of Satan, which is irreligious if anything, instead spouting an individualistic philosophy and guidelines for living a bit "satanically".
Folk speculated on the purpose of the hoax, ranging from someone getting overexcited about 2019 Swedish pagan slasher flick Midsommar or wanting to dissuade hikers from stumbling on an illegitimate pot-growing operation.
On the other hand, some people just want to watch the world burn, and you can't get much more "satanic" than that. ®