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Testimonies from the trials of alleged sorcerers in seventeenth-century Sweden, meanwhile, equate Satan with various traditional nature spirits.
Stories of devil-worshippers existed in the middle ages and later but were largely folkloric and did not describe genuine religious practices.
However, there have been a few branches of religious belief which involve the worship of Satan.
In some cases, the trappings of Satanism are used to try to scare victims (especially children) and prevent them from reporting the crimes, while in other cases, Satanism is used to get media attention instead (the classic "Satan made me do it" explanation).
Some of the more notorious examples of "sicko" Satanism include: A controversial issue is the alleged existence of large scale, conspiratorial groups which practice human sacrifice, child molestation, etc., many of whose members allegedly occupy positions of power, authority or respect in their communities (such as doctors, lawyers, politicians, police officers, schoolteachers, etc.) Some believe in the existence of this form of Satanism; however, there is no evidence for its actual existence, so it seems to most likely be a form of urban legend or mass hysteria.
Theistic Satanism believes that "Satan" is an actual independently existing being, which serves as a God-analogue.
While atheistic Satanists categorically deny that any gods or higher powers exist, theistic Satanists vary in their opinions: A prominent example of theistic Satanism is the Temple of Set.Groups such as the Church of Satan fall into the category of Organized Satanism: publicly known Satanic groups which oppose criminal activity and have well-developed theologies which they often publish electronically or in printed form.Outside of organized Satanism, we find marginal groups which can be divided along more sociological terms.They're responsible for a number of the antics described above in the "First Amendment and religious freedom" section, such as attempts to have a statue of Baphomet displayed wherever Christian symbols are shown on government property.As a result, they have become quite popular with the atheist community."Sicko" Satanists are criminals and psychopathic individuals who use Satanism as a justification for murder, rape, kidnapping, child abuse, and similar activities.