cuisine des sorcières (Staatlich museum, Berlin)The news that “tea partier” and vehement Religious Rightist Christine O’Donnell won the Delaware Republican primary for Senate has been all over the news for several days. Most of those stories have been punctuated by tales of her Christian-puritanical weirdness, e.g. her hatred of masturbation and assertion that viewing pornography equates with adultery (WebCite cached article). It also turns out that she’s a paranoid conspiracist, having claimed that scientists are cross-breeding humans and animals (locally cached).

But perhaps the strangest thing of all about O’Donnell, is this ABC News report (based on footage released by Bill Maher) that she claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft in the past (cached):

On Friday, Maher released on his new HBO show, “Real Time,” an unaired clip of O’Donnell admitting to a brief dalliance with witchcraft.

“I dabbled into witchcraft — I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do,” she said.

“One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s little blood there and stuff like that,” she said. “We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.”

Here’s the Bill Maher show video segment in question, courtesy of ABC News:

Thus the walking freakshow which is Christine O’Donnell became even freakier.

When I read this, I was immediately reminded of another fervent evangelical Christian who likewise had claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft and the occult: Mike Warnke. His story grew more elaborate as he told it; he claimed to have been a Satanic “high priest” (whatever that may have meant), and that he’d taken part in some hair-raising, if not obscene, profane Satanic rituals. Through the late ’70s and the 80s he made a career as a preacher and Christian comedian, telling stories of his action in Vietnam and then his Satanic tenure. He wrote The Satan Seller, a memoir which was a best-seller in avid Christian circles. But in the early ’90s, he was exposed as a fraud by a series of articles in the (Christian) Cornerstone Magazine. Despite the Cornerstone exposé and the evidence it was based on, Warnke initially insisted he’d been telling the truth. He subsequently conceded having stretched the truth on a few points, but to this day has never really admitted having lied about his past. Nevertheless, despite his attempts to make a comeback, his once-thriving career as a preacher is pretty much dead. (Unreasonable Faith blog has an excellent encapsulation of Warnke and his scandal.)

I can’t help but wonder if O’Donnell is playing the same game that Warnke had. If so, given that she’s been active in evangelical Christianity for several years by the time she said this, I can only assume she’s aware of Warnke and how his career and life unraveled, and am forced to wonder … what the fuck was she thinking?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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