The Real Enemy

2015, Religion  -  44 min Leave a Comment
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On the theatre stage of a small, unassuming civic center in Oklahoma City, preparations are underway for an upcoming event which is generating an increasingly vocal chorus of opposition. A group of self-proclaimed Satan worshippers will soon take the stage to conduct a Black Mass ceremony, during which they will exorcise the Holy Spirit from a willing participant. In the heart of the Bible belt, such a ceremony is interpreted as a serious threat against the Christian leaders and residents of the community, and to the sanctity of their beliefs. The Real Enemy examines this perceived threat from the inside.

The ceremony is led by Adam Daniels, the head of the Church of Ahriman. Daniels is a controversial figure who is widely viewed as a subject of disdain and disgust, and whose reputation is further marred by his legal status as a convicted sex offender.

News of Daniels' event sends shockwaves of controversy throughout the United States. Contributors from FOX News are viewed debating the issue on air. Local ministries are shown organizing an aggressive ground game with the hopes of inspiring a cancellation of the event. But perhaps the most vociferous opposition comes from an entirely unexpected source: other Satanists in the community.

For them, Daniels is a tacky and tasteless showman who perverts the religion they hold dear. These devil worshippers express their beliefs in a much more subdued and orderly fashion than Daniels, and they're shamed by and dismissive of his court jester theatrics. Meanwhile, city officials defend the group's right to host their ceremony in one of their venues. The government, they say, cannot impinge upon the right of free speech. All the elements are in place for a combustible conclusion.

The film gives occasionally foul-mouthed voice to each player in this circus, and the results are fascinating, colorful and often humorous. The Real Enemy seems to approach its subject with a sly wink at times, but there are worthy currents of depth hidden behind its outrageous façade. What's happening in Oklahoma City is a microcosm of some larger cultural themes, including religious-based intolerance, delusion and hypocrisy.