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Her Majesty's Satanist; Navy back devil-worshipper.

A SCOTTISH sailor has become the first registered Satanist in the Armed Forces.

Royal Navy technician Chris Cranmer was granted official blessing to perform devil-worshipping rituals on board his ship HMS Cumberland.

Chris, 24, had admitted he is 'evil'. But last night his mother Catherine said he was 'one of the loveliest blokes you could ever meet'.

She added: 'Chris is generous, sweet, kind and gentle. He is the least evil person you could meet.'

Chris's captain has agreed to give him space on board the frigate to use as a 'ritual chamber'.

He will be able to dress in a black robe in front of an altar and use items including candles, a gong, a bell and a model phallus.

The commanding officer also agreed Chris can have a Church of Satan funeral if he dies in action.

Navy bosses caused an outcry by agreeing to Chris's requests.

But a spokesman said: 'We are an equal opportunities employer and we don't stop anyone from having their own religious values. Chris Cranmer approached his captain and made a request to be registered as a Satanist.

'The captain said this decision was entirely up to the individual and that he is a good lad, a good worker.

'Nobody is suggesting that there is anything dark about this.'

Chris, who is single, became a devil-worshipper after he 'stumbled across' the Satanic bible nine years ago.

He said: 'If I were asked if I were evil, I would say 'yes' - by virtue of the common definition.

'But if you asked my friends and family, it would be a resounding 'no'.'

Chris's 51-year-old mum, who split from her husband several years ago, said she was standing by her son.

Speaking at her terraced home in Kirkliston, near Edinburgh, Catherine said her son was 'an ordinary lad with ordinary interests'.

She added: 'He plays football, games and enjoys clubbing - the same things as everyone else.

'The Navy know he is professional,good at his job and committed to the Navy.'

Chris is now lobbying Ministry of Defence officials to have Satanism registered as an official religion so other worshippers can come out of the shadows.

But former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe said: 'I am utterly shocked by this. Satanism is wrong.

'There should be no question of allowing Satanist rituals on board any ship in Her Majesty's Royal Navy.'

Admiral Sandy Woodward, former commander of the South Atlantic Task Groups in the Falklands War, was also shocked.

He said: 'My immediate reaction is, 'Good God, what the hell's going on?' This sounds pretty daft to me.'

Chris, who has been on Cumberland's tour of duty in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf since April, was promoted to leading hand - the naval equivalent of corporal - in July last year.

He said it was vital his bosses agreed to his Satanist requests.

Chris added: 'I didn't want to feel I couldn't get out my Satanic bible and relax in bed.'

Chris worked in various shops, including John Lewis in Edinburgh, before joining the Navy as a non-commissioned officer.

To register as a Satanist, he made a submission to his divisional officer, then he gave a presentation on Satanism to military top brass.

Commanding officer Captain Russell Best granted his request a month later.

HELL OF A FOLLOWING

CRANMER is part of a following known as religious Satanists.

Members belong to the Church of Satan, which was founded in San Francisco in 1966.

They live by Nine Satanic Statements, which include: 'Satan represents all of the so-called sins as they lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification.'

Religious Satantists perform rituals using an altar, chalice and sword.

Unlike some traditional Satanists, they do not carry out sacrifices or perform ritual abuse.

In the 2001 Scottish census, 53 people said they worshipped Satan.

CAPTION(S):

DEMON OF THE DEEP: Chris, left, has a ritual chamber aboard HMS Cumberland, above
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 25, 2004
Words:651
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