Knee Deep in the Satanic Panic

What they were talking about on March 22, 1991, in Taylor, Pennsylvania

Jeff Suwak
4 min readAug 23, 2020


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Ah, the Satanic Panic. Us ’90s kids get nostalgic just thinking about it. All the paranoia. All the irrationality. It was a glorious time to be young.

I distinctly recall one Mrs. Winebreak sending me to the principal's office for having a Mötley Crüe pentagram on my binder. There was no humor or soft-handedness in her move. She legitimately feared I was worshiping Satan. The times were such that her fears were taken seriously.

The Silent Generation is defined by the (lame) birth of rock and roll and the (lame) moon landing. Boomers had their (lame) Woodstock music festival and their (lame) Hippie revolution. Millennials had the (lame) birth of the internet.

Generation X? We had the Satanic Panic, baby.

What better event for me to use as the first Random Small Town News Nuggets series?

The Devil Went Down to Taylor, Pennsylvania

“Satanists don’t exactly advertise their existence.”

— Boris Krawczeniuk, The Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania
22 Mar 1991, Friday, page 18

On March 22, 1991, the people of Taylor, Pennsylvania, were talking about Satan, their children, and their children worshiping Satan. Probably other things, too, but definitely Satan and the worshipping of Satan.

The Tribune was the flagship newspaper of the area at the time. On page 18 of that flagship newspaper, written without humor or self-consciousness, was a story discussing a recent talk by a man named Allen Joseph.

The newspaper reported that Joseph had a masters degree in theology and was earning one in counseling, as well. It also reported that he’d given a talk to “35 members of the Taylor Crime Watch Association.”

To the credit of Joseph and Krawczeniuk (the journalist who wrote the news story), the article starts out pretty sober minded. It reminds people that Satanism isn’t all bloodbaths and hell fire — sometimes it’s just awkward teenagers with goofy haircuts watching corny movies…



Jeff Suwak

I’m not in the Matrix. I AM the Matrix. Sci-Fi mystery “The Singer File” at