Back in August, Fox 2 reported
that a dead, charred baby goat was found near Detroit's Russell Industrial Center. Fox 2 spoke with employees who found the body, who reached the conclusion that it must have been the work of Satanists. "There is a rope around the goat's neck and two white chalk circles around the body, leading them to believe someone tried to sacrifice the goat in a possible satanic ritual," the report read.
With the Satanic Temple currently in town setting up their first chapter house in Detroit
reached out for a statement regarding the assumption that the goat carcass was a part of some ritual sacrifice.
"There is no known recognized Satanic doctrine that prescribes animal sacrifice," Satanic Temple spokesperson Doug Mesner
tells us via phone, noting that the Satanic Temple is anti-superstition and anti-animal cruelty.
According to Mesner, this sort of knee-jerk response is typical. "They didn't talk about any forensic analysis or anything," he says. "They just got a quote from a local who had seen the body. They only seemed to know that the animal was dead — it wasn't confirmed that the gutting and burning weren't done post-mortem. That was apparently all the expertise Fox 2 needed to run a headline that an animal that was found gutted and burned was part of a Satanic sacrifice."
Mesner says he was previously contacted by a reporter from Oklahoma covering a story about cattle mutilations sighted in the area. "I was just disturbed that they didn't even use the power of Google," he says. "You had people driving by who didn't understand what the decay process looked like. They would see what they thought were incisions, organs missing — and they didn't realize that body bloat ... that the skin would break and give the appearance of incisions. Ears and eyes would be missing, and they'd think they were surgically removed."
Mesner traces this sort of response back to the Satanic Panic of the '80s and '90s
. "It was a rampant, modern witch hunt. It ruined countless lives in the United States alone," he says. "It was an embarrassing throwback to Medieval social purges, but it still provides the factual background for what people think they know about Satanism.
"I really think that the Satanic Panic, the way it happened, the way it spread — it really should be required learning for journalists, because inappropriate journalism did a lot to spread these conspiracy theories," he adds.
Detroit Satanic Temple chapter house leader Jex Blackmore notes there are at least four slaughterhouses within three miles of the site of the goat remains, several of which sell whole goats. "The Russell Industrial building houses artist studios, and it's certainly not a far stretch to think that perhaps the findings were the result of some kind of art project (à la Hermann Nitsch?
)," an aspect of that story that Blackmore says "went remarkably unreported."
Mesner says when he first heard of the Detroit goat, he looked up some Biblical passages from the Old Testament about goat sacrifice. He found one in Leviticus 23:18
: "Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD."
Apparently burning a goat is a Christian ritual, not a Satanic one.