Items such as the "Satanic Bible" have been offered for purchase on the Walmart.com website.
Such items are not being sold directly by Walmart, and the retail giant asserts some of them have been removed from their website offerings.
A Catholic newspaper in late March 2019 interviewed a purported priest, one who serves as the exorcist for his parish, about so-called ‘satanic items’ sold by big-box retailer Walmart.
In a 25 March 2019 story headlined “An Exorcist Comments on Walmart’s Satanic Products,” a National Catholic Register (NC Register) article cautioned that the superstore chain was tempting consumers with supernatural forces of the underworld:
Walmart has come under fire — the fire of hell — for selling satanic products. Their online catalog has 22 pages — around 440 items — of demonic merchandise. They also carry Christian books and jewelry, so an argument for equal opportunity could be made, but it would be ridiculous logic. One leads to damnation and the other to salvation. Walmart is a private enterprise that can sell whatever they want. In this case, they have sold their soul.
What are these items? The NC Register reported that they perused Walmart’s online store pages and found “demonic sculptures and figures; satanic pornography that blasphemes Christ’s crucifixion; numerous products and jewelry with pentagrams and other demonic images, and books that include the Satanic bible and books on spells. Especially featured is Baphomet, the horned, goat-headed figure trademarked as the Church of Satan symbol.”
What is the harm? According to “Father Michael,” a pseudonym given to the exorcist priest interviewed by the NC Register, one could risk a demonic possession in the near future. “Just as religious objects such as a Miraculous Medal connects us with the Blessed Mother and a crucifix with Jesus, Father Michael explained that similarly, wearing an icon of something satanic opens a person up to a demonic presence,” the NC Register warned. “’And that’s very serious,’ he said.”
Snopes readers asked us whether Walmart truly sold such items. We searched the retailer’s website for products listed under the phrase “satanic,” and we found 21 pages of results (not 22, as reported by the Catholic paper). Items we turned up included The Satanic Bible, a 1969 book authored by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Also available were pentagram T-shirts and little devil-shaped figurines. (Pentagrams are five-pointed stars often associated with pre-Christian paganism and favored by modern practitioners of witchcraft. But in religions derived from Christianity, pentagrams are also thought to symbolize satanism.)
In fairness, some of search results included books that simply had the term “satanic” in their titles, such as the Salman Rushdie novel The Satanic Verses and literature about the “Satanic Panic,” a moral-panic phenomenon that took hold in the U.S. in the 1970s and ’80s during which many persons were falsely accused of the ritual abuse of children. Walmart also isn’t the only major retailer to carry such items: for example, the Satanic Bible can be purchased through Target, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
We reached out to Walmart for response to the NC Register story. A company spokesman told us that “Walmart didn’t sell these items directly, but rather they were listed on our online marketplace by a third-party seller. We removed them as soon as it was brought to our attention, and we are conducting a thorough review of the seller’s products.”
Marketplace is a website on which independent sellers can upload their products to be sold through the Walmart.com website. As of this writing, however, all 21 pages of “satanic” products mentioned earlier were still available for online purchase. We asked Walmart about the disconnect between their response to us and what is currently for sale on the Walmart website but didn’t receive a response.
Perhaps because of its size and ubiquity, Walmart is often the focal point of various hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and fake-outrage campaigns. In February 2019 the anti-gay group American Family Association urged supporters to sign a petition criticizing the retail chain for creating a Valentine’s Day-themed ad featuring a gay couple.