Mark of the Beast

The Relationships Between Satanist Identity, Stigma, and Mental Health


  • Eric Sprankle Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Zane Hensel Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Todd Jennings University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Tayler Lyng Minnesota State University, Mankato



Satanists, Discrimination, Depression, Minority Stress, stigma


Modern Satanism is an oft-misunderstood and stigmatized minority religion that has largely been viewed by mental health professionals through a lens of deviance. Understanding Satanists’ experiences with this stigmatized identity is absent in the current psychological literature. Conceptualizing Satanism within the minority stress and rejection-identification models, a nonrandom sample of 1,272 self-identified Satanists were surveyed about their strength of identity, anticipated discrimination, and depressive symptoms. Results indicated that aspects of Satanist identity (centrality and in-group ties) positively correlated with anticipated discrimination, and other aspects (in-group ties and in-group affect) negatively correlated with depressive symptoms. Additionally, in-group ties moderated the relationship between anticipated discrimination and depressive symptoms, suggesting that Satanists who have social support from other Satanists are less affected by the depressive repercussions of anticipated discrimination. Implications for mental health professionals treating Satanists presenting with religious minority stressors and depressive symptoms are discussed.

Author Biographies

Eric Sprankle, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Eric Sprankle is an associate professor of psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Xavier University in 2009 and completed a fellowship in sexual health at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2011. His research interests include the intersections of sexuality, stigma, and Satanism.

Zane Hensel, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Zane Hensel is a graduate student in the master's program in clinical psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He received his bachelor's degree in psychology at Bemidji State University. His research interests include suicidality within marginalized and religious populations, as well as examining non-majority religious identities including Satanism.

Todd Jennings, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Todd Jennings obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy at Montana State University Bozeman. Currently, he is studying clinical psychology in a master's program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. His research interests include sexuality, LGBTQ+ well-being, multicultural considerations in therapy, and new religious identities.

Tayler Lyng, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Tayler Lyng is a current master's student in the clinical psychology program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She received her Bachelor of Science in psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2015. Her research interests include religious identities, the intersection of minoritized identities and sexuality, and sexual functioning.


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How to Cite

Sprankle, E., Hensel, Z., Jennings, T., & Lyng, T. (2022). Mark of the Beast: The Relationships Between Satanist Identity, Stigma, and Mental Health. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 11(2), 139–157.