European governments keep a close eye on cults. The German government has kept a wary eye on Scientology. With more reason, the French government is keeping an eye on Satanism. Le Monde reports that the “Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires” (The interministerial mission of vigilance and combat against sectarian deviances) estimates that there are 25,000 Satanists in France, of whom 80% are under 21 years of age.
Secularists are skeptical, and think that the government is alarmist; the alarmists classify black metal (heavy metal?) fans and Goths as Satanists, when all they are is adolescent rebels. The profanations of churches and cemeteries are, according to the secularist critics the work of neonazis and other sociopaths.
The U. S. had its Satanist alarms in the 1980s. At the extreme fringes of sexual abuse among priests are reports of Satanism. A priest who wanted tone as transgressive as possible would, like the priest in Huysmans, would tend to use Satanic references. He would use them in the same spirit as the French adolescent rebels. But it is dangerous to call on the evil spirits. They may come.