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The Satanic Temple

Guest Article

The Satanic Temple

November 27, 2021

The Devil Went Down to the South Pacific

New book confirms The Satanic Temple’s co-founder Cevin Soling was among the “crackpots” trying to be a cargo cult messiah on a small Pacific island

In the mid-2000s, future co-owner and founder of The Satanic Temple Cevin Soling (a.k.a. “Malcolm Jarry”) visited the South Pacific Island of Tanna to try to convince them he was returned messianic cargo cult figure John Frum as part of a project for Soling’s company Spectacle Films. This is already known.

John Frum, He Will Come” poster
“John Frum, He Will Come” [IMDB trailer] [Facebook trailer]
Mr. Cevin and the Cargo Cult

As a tease for the book The Men Who Would Be King by Christopher Lord and Jon Tonks, this article for the Guardian is really effective.

But this is not a book about Soling, just how he fits into this larger pattern, so in the article, we don’t get more than these brief anecdotes:

Having not seen more than the trailers, what we didn’t know previously was that this was not a one-off event but apparently a years-long investment for Soling to try to be recognized as a cult leader to the islanders by bringing them gifts and attempting to fulfill a prophecy while shooting a movie about it centered on himself.

If Soling first visited in 2007, which would be that trip he’s quoted in above, he continued to go there until at least 2014 when he ran into the book/article authors Christopher Lord and Jon Tonks. So, already fully into the swing of “The Satanic Temple” stateside by then.

Soling’s involvement may have lasted even longer given the presumably satirical $525 million “nuclear power plant fundraiser” and accompanying video Soling released to promote the second version of the film in 2017.

Cevin Soling
I am raising funds to build a nuclear power plant in Vanuatu. Help make one tribe's dream a reality. 
IndieGoGo campaign

Still, it’s interesting that — along with not listing himself as owner of The Satanic Temple and related front companies —when he’s self-promoting under his own name, Cevin Soling doesn’t seem to think it worthwhile to remind folk he attempted to fulfill the prophecy of John Frum and make a movie of it.

Exhibitionist colonialism in the service of trying to manipulate naïve people into glorifying you is not exactly the best look. Then again, “trying” turns out to be the operative word in this case.

One more thing: the second chapter of Joe Laycock’s book about The Satanic Temple, Speak of the Devil, includes this anecdote from David Guinan, the director of what would become Mr. Cevin and the Cargo Cult (emphasis added):

While that’s not definitive, everything about that account from 2019 would align with Soling and Guinan coming up with the idea for their own US-based Satanic troll group — one that would evolve into The Satanic Temple — while traveling together on the first long, international flight to the South Pacific for their project about turning Soling into a cult messiah figure.

You can take as much time with that one as you need.

Another, perhaps happier moral to all this could be that if a person is going to try to do some religious grifting, it turns out it’s a lot harder to pull one over on people who know you’re underestimating them and use that to their advantage than it is to do the same on folk who think they’re too educated and smart to ever fall victim of a grift or into a cult.

Excerpt from book The Men Who Would Be King 

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