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Yes, South African Satanic Church officially registered

An article in Zimbabwean newspaper the Mail and Telegraph claims that the South African Satanic Church has been officially registered after launching in February 2020.

The 26 May 2020 article has hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook but has also been flagged as possibly false by the platform’s fact-checking system

What is the church, and is it registered in South Africa?

‘Hail Yourself! Hail Satan!’

The South African Satanic Church does exist. Its members say it is partially founded on the principles of Anton LaVey. LaVey is famous for publishing the Satanic Bible in 1969, and founding the Church of Satan in the United States.

LaVey’s book promoted “a religious philosophy championing Satan as the symbol of personal freedom and individualism”.

The South African church says it is not an offshoot of the Church of Satan, or the Satanic Temple, both based in the US.

The church says on its website its members do not “worship the ‘Devil’”, nor do they perform sacrifices, invoke spirits or curse people. The church says that it is “NOT anti-God, anti-Allah or anti-Buddha”.

The church also says “we do not believe in any external deity that could be worshipped”. Instead, members “revere Satan as an Archetype for our true nature”. Or as they put it: “Hail Yourself! Hail Satan!” 

Register register

The church was registered as a non-profit company, or NPC, in February. 

Riaan Swiegelaar, co-founder of the church, spoke to radio station Cape Talk on 21 May about the church’s official registration. Swiegelaar said: “We are a registered religious organisation as from February with the Department of Social Development.”

But the department manages South Africa’s registry of non-profit organisations, or NPOs. Non-profit companies (NPCs) are recorded with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, or CIPC. 

Swiegelaar likely misspoke in referring to the Department of Social Development instead of the CIPC.

The major distinction between NPCs and NPOs is precisely in how they are registered, as legal journal De Rebus explains. It says the different entities’ “objectives are quite similar, if not identical”.

NPCs are registered under South Africa’s Companies Act of 2008. This requires that a company file a memorandum of incorporation and a notice of incorporation with the CIPC. 

The church has been registered in this way, and can be found on the CIPC database as “SA Satanic Church” with the enterprise number K2020075466.

An NPO must be “a trust, company or other associations of persons established for a public purpose” and must register with the Department of Social Development. 

NPCs can also later register as NPOs, but the South African Satanic Church does not appear in South Africa’s registry of non-profit organisations. – Keegan Leech


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