Ouachita Baptist University professor William C. Viser sees America as a society imperiled by the influence of the occult in television, books and games.
And, right or wrong, he’s making his vision pay.
Viser, 47, states his case in a book, "The Darkness Among Us: A Look at the Sinister Growth of the Occult and How Dangerously Close it is to You," by Broadman & Holman Publishers, a Nashville, Tenn.-based outfit affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Issued this spring, the book is in its second printing with 18,000 copies released.
Viser, like most of the writers and authorities sounding the alarm about the occult, offers little in the way of case studies or solid proof of the occult activity he laments. But, as many rural sheriffs in Arkansas have done, he makes the lack of evidence an affirmative defense of theories about satanic activity.
"I think that people who are deeply involved in the occult do a masterful job at keeping their involvement hidden," says Viser. “Because of that, there is not as much evidence as we would like to see, but that doesn't mean that it's not happening."
Viser says many police officers reject the idea of occult crime out of hand, and aren't willing to allocate precious undercover time to ferret out such operations. Satanists generally don't leave much of a trail, either, he says, especially when it comes to dead bodies. Furthermore, Satanists work very hard to discredit any potential witnesses, he says, and the fear of publicity keeps some people from revealing what they know about Satanic crimes.
Viser claims to have extensive experience in the subject matter, having counseled many people involved in the occult over the last few years, and served as a missionary for 10 years in Rio de Janeiro, where he encountered a "voodoo-influenced" cult called Macumba.
But he left much of that direct experience out of the book, choosing instead to embody his anecdotes in a fictitious, embellished character named Lauren who is slowly seduced into the occult by a Ouija board, a stack of witchcraft books from her school library and a couple of animal-sacrificing friends.
Viser’s book is something of a self-help guide for worried parents, crammed with lists of warning signals. Among his 40 "Warning Signs of Adolescent Occultic Involvement" are a number of things that some parents might recognize as normal teenager behavior—bizarre haircuts, changes in school habits, burning of incense, meditation, rejection of parental values and keeping small animals in cages.
Viser has been writing the book bit by bit since he was a graduate student in 1974. He frequently quotes Hal Lindsey, a popular Christian writer of that era who wrote "The Late Great Planet Earth" and "Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth." For the last four years, Viser has been teaching a course at OBU called "Counseling and the Occult." He also makes speeches, radio appearances and, in September, did a workshop on demon possession.
In spare time, he’s working on a sequel.
"Warning Signs of Adolescent Occultic Involvement"
•Abrupt emotional changes
•Ashes, gongs, drums, and/or bells
•Bizarre haircuts, hair color
•Black dress, unusually long fingernails (sometimes painted black)
•Body paint, face paint
•Bull whip, cat-o'-nine-tails
•Changes in school habits
•Crystals in various shapes and sizes (balls, domes, etc.)
•Flash powder, smoke bombs
•Goblet or chalice
•Graph paper for fantasy games, dice (maybe oddly shaped configurations with numbers on them)
•Heavy wooden staff, swords, and knives
•Human or animal bones (especially skull, long bones, finger bones), flesh
•Large ruby or red stone ring worn on the first finger of the right hand
•Masks like Halloween (horror type) and costumes
•Medallions with satanic symbols or other occult jewelry
•Meditations, chanting, use of new vocabulary
•Metal crown with four candle holders
•Obsession with rock music using satanic symbols or references
•Occult drawings on notebooks, tattoos
•Paraphernalia in and related to clothing and/or weapons associated with martial arts (ninja costumes, etc.)
•Poems and prose with themes of blood, death, murder, Satan, evil, dying and suicide
•Possession or use of fames with occultic themes (Ouija board, tarot cards, fantasy role-playing games, I Ching, crystal ball, etc.)
•Posters of heavy metal/punk rock stars
•Posters of mythological beings, animals, half man/half beast
•Posters of nightmarish pictures
•Posters of sexual nature, particularly sadomasochistic
•Rejection of friends
•Rejection of parental values
•Right-hand black satin or velvet glove
•Ritual books, black books, diaries (such as the Book of Shadows, which might be handwritten)
•Small animals in cages or empty cages
•Small metal figures of a mythological nature
•Small scarlet velvet pillow
•Unusual interest in books of Satanism, black magic, witchcraft, or other occult subjects.
Source: "The Darkness Among Us," by William C. Viser