In this day and age, it is all too common to encounter depictions of evil in popular culture from movies and television to books and music, and many times evil is depicted as simply being misunderstood, an otherwise valid alternative to good. Righteousness is treated as restrictive and authoritarian whereas wickedness is treated as liberating and individualistic, and people are encouraged to partake in all manner of occult practices and beliefs, both real and imagined, that are packaged and sold thusly. Indeed, such things are so widely available and treated in such a trivial manner that people may not even realize the sort of thing in which they are involving themselves. Therein is the question at hand. When is ironic, or perhaps feigned or even inadvertent, evil actually just evil? We are not discussing people who are purposely and willfully evil with complete and total understanding of their actions, but we are rather focused on those who do not know any better, who do not take it seriously, &c. When does unintentional evil become indistinguishable from the real thing? Or are they inherently the same?

Consider the fact that a study conducted by the Yoga Journal in 2016 found that 28% of Americans have participated in a yoga class at least once in their lives with 36 million active practitioners. The practice is so common that yoga mats and accessories are available from Walmart and Amazon. How many people realize that yoga is a Hindu religious practice? Does it occur to them that the common greeting “namaste” used in yoga classes carries the implied meaning of, “the god in me greets the god in you,” a clearly pagan message? Do they realize that it is believed that yoga comes from Shiva, one of the main deities of Hinduism? Despite yoga clearly being a Hindu practice wrapped in religious belief, some have tried to repackage it as somehow being compatible with Christianity, so-called “holy yoga,” while trying to claim it can refer equally to God rather than Hindu gods. As Exodus 20:3 tells us, however, “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.” Despite this, it is clear that yoga not only introduces polytheistic practices but also beliefs. One need only look at the gurus, meditation, promotion of Hindu ideas of the universe, &c.

Another example of the seemingly benign is Día de los Muertos, or the “Day of the Dead,” celebrated by Central and South Americans, which is “crossing over into mainstream U.S. culture with a whirlwind of exhibitions, parties, educational projects, art classes and parades throughout the country.” While a Christian veneer has been added in some ways, the celebration is actually pre-Columbian in origin. For example, Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte, or Our Lady of the Holy Death, is a central figure of the practice with all manner of items available to honor her, but she is not Our Lady and is rather a representation of the Aztec goddess of death. Various artistic expressions such as the famously colorful sugar skulls associated with the “Day of the Dead” may be one thing, but actual belief in the holiday and “Santa Muerte” leads to much darker places where no Christian should tread. And this is no trivial thing as it is estimated that 10-12 million people now worship “Saint Death” in the Americas including the US.

According to Pew’s Religious Landscape Study in 2014, approximately 1 million Americans were avowed New Age witches or pagans, not including foreign religions such as Hinduism, and, beginning in the summer of 2017, thousands of witches supposedly started casting spells on President Donald Trump and other politicians who might support his agenda. This has become a monthly practice that coincides with the waning moon. While it may be all too easy to dismiss such things out of hand, it cannot be ignored that many of these witches and pagans actively try to commune with spirits, invoke the dead, use animal familiars, and even claim to enter into marriage with spirits and false gods. Ouija boards and tarot cards are sold as toys, and you are only ever a click away from learning how to dabble in such occult practices. This is all despite Deuteronomy 18:10-12 saying, “Neither let there be found among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, making them to pass through the fire: or that consulteth soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens, neither let there be any wizard, nor charmer, nor any one that consulteth pythonic spirits, or fortune tellers, or that seeketh the truth from the dead. For the Lord abhorreth all these things, and for these abominations he will destroy them at thy coming.”

Perhaps the most pervasive delivery method of wickedness is the music industry. Consider the existence of the Swedish band Ghost, which is fronted by a man dressed as a fallen bishop in the service of the Antichrist, known as “Papa Emeritus,” and includes band members known as “nameless ghouls” because of the anonymity afforded by the demonic masks that they wear. The band’s official store includes blasphemous rosary beads, which feature the band’s logo in the form of an upside-down cross in the place of a crucifix, and a phallus adorned with a bishop’s mitre and several upside-down crosses. The lyrics of the band are blatantly satanic, and, while Tobias Forge, the man behind “Papa Emeritus,” has said he wants “to believe in a lot of stuff,” comparing religion to Star Wars, one of the “nameless ghouls” has said that the band is satanic and does “present songs that are very praising of Satan or Satanism,” albeit individual members might not be Satanists. It is worth noting that another “nameless ghoul,” speaking on the formation of the band, said, “Ghost started when I played a riff to everybody else… When the chorus came to me, it haunted my dreams. Every time I picked up the guitar, I ended up playing that progression, and … it seemed to cry out for a Satanically-oriented lyric.”

Obviously, most of the music industry is not nearly as blatant as Ghost, but there is no shortage of performers who promote wickedness as “cool” and liberating. For example, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” includes the lyrics, “Let’s go all the way tonight. No regrets, just love… We drove to Cali, and got drunk on the beach. Got a motel… Be your teenage dream tonight.” Another of her songs, “E.T.,” features Kanye West rapping that he wants to “bathe [his] Aye-Aye, in [her] Milky Way-Way” to which she responds, “You’re so hypnotizing. Could you be the devil? Could you be an angel? …You’re not like the others… Different DNA… Kiss me… Infect me with your love and fill me with your poison.” West then chimes in with, “Tell me what’s next, alien sex? I’mma disrobe you, then I’mma probe you.” As if the message of miscegenation was not already blatant, the video involves Perry kissing a nude Shaun Ross, an Albino black man. Similarly, Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s” is about her fornicatory misadventures around the globe with multiracial partners, and, despite that, the song is featured on Kidz Bop 31, “today’s biggest hits sung by kids for kids.” Portugal The Man’s “Purple, Yellow, Red & Blue” opens with, “All I wanna do is live in ectascy. I know what’s best for me,” and closes with, “I just wanna be evil. I just wanna be evil…All that I needed is something to believe in because everything just falls in place like that.”

Katy Perry, Kanye West, Elle King, and countless other performers who promote sinful ways are unlikely to ever take the stage in a blasphemous costume mocking the clergy or directly praising Satan, but does that make their promotion of hedonism and degeneracy any less evil than what Ghost does? Do they not all promote wickedness in their own ways? Do they not glorify sin and denigrate any effort to combat sin in society? Consider, Katy Perry and Portugal The Man both actively advocate for “gay marriage” despite the sin and blasphemy involved. Many popular musicians also openly support abortion as do many other celebrities. Ironically, they also openly support the importation of Muslims into the West. Despite all this, they are not only not shunned by society but instead become wealthy promoting hedonism and degeneracy to all ages because the wickedness they promote is packaged in a format to which people enjoy listening. Consider, however, if a stranger was standing on the street corner preaching the same wickedness to passersby, only their vile words pounding against your eardrums, would you stop and tap your toe along with them? Would you let your children be exposed to it? What if such a satanic street preacher recited your favorite band’s lyrics back to you in such a fashion? Would the format change things? Would you want other people to associate you with what is being said and with whom is saying it?

Halloween is less than a month away. Ponder a young woman walking to her yoga class. Let’s call her Emma. She is wearing the stereotypical, skintight athletic clothing with her earbuds in, listening to the latest pop hit about drinking and fornicating with as many multiracial men as possible. Upon arrival to her class, she greets the teacher with a pagan word she does not understand, acknowledging the pagan spirits alive in both of them. After that, she stops into the local occult shop to pick up a Ouija board and tarot cards so that she and her friends can hold a séance during their Halloween party. She also grabs a Santa Muerte statue and some candles as a centerpiece to add to the ambiance, as well as a book on summoning spells that should really make things authentic sounding. As she walks home, where she lives in sin with her boyfriend, Emma ponders what it would be like to summon some dreamy celebrity who died young. In today’s society, virtually nothing in that scenario seems shocking, but virtually all of it speaks to a soul lost in an ocean of sin and wickedness. Emma should know better, but she doesn’t.

Is Emma committing evil acts? She may not think anything of her afternoon dabbling in occultism, but God forbids all of it. She may also think nothing of buying the items necessary to try to commune with spirits, but, again, God forbids it. Is her inadvertent evil actually just evil? What of the music encouraging her to engage in sinful behavior? What of the yoga instructor offering Hindu religious practices as nothing more than innocent stretches? What of the fashion industry promoting immodest clothing to her? What of the shopkeeper who makes occult items easily available? Are they all committing evil acts, or are they excused because they do not believe what they are doing is wrong? Is their inadvertent evil excusable? What if the author of the book of spells Emma bought was only feigning belief in what she wrote? What if Emma’s friends only ironically reach out to commune with demons? What if Emma wears blasphemous rosary beads from her favorite band, Ghost, and keeps a satanic phallus hidden away in a drawer?

At what point does ironic, feigned, or inadvertent evil simply become evil? This is not a question, dear reader, that you should ponder regarding others, but you should rather weigh things in your own life that are not in accord with God’s will. After all, it is your immortal soul that is at stake. Do you engage in sinful behaviors or consume wicked influences that you excuse by saying you don’t really mean it? How close do you believe you can dance to the Devil before you slip and cannot turn back?