Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cults in the Valley

Not many know that there was a huge scare about cults in Middleburgh. It, in fact, hit our very High School.

The major cult scare started in late September of 1986, and died down in October. Local residents became frightened and confused to find graffiti that looked like Satan-worshiping drawings. Some graffiti was found at, you guessed it, our Middleburgh High School. Also, a horse had a wound on it’s neck that looked like it had created by a knife.

To calm concerns, and to inform local residents, a huge meeting was held in our high school. Parents Involved in Education, or PIE for short, Thomas Hinchey, a Juvenile Court officer, Thomas Fargroni, a narcotics officer, and Sheriff Harvey Stoddard, all addressed the public.

Mr. Hinchey said “you may find a lot of similarities” between the graffiti in Middleburgh and compared to graffiti made by Satan-worshipers. “Yes, you could have something here, or it could be just a bunch of kids saying ‘hey, look at me.’” Hinchey put forward several things to spot, to see whether or not your children are into Satanism.

He stated, “You can tell a lot from doodling. If a kid has 666, ask him what it means. If he knows, he’s either a Bible student, or he’s into cult activity.” Other things to look for, according to Mr. Hinchey, are any “denial” of Jesus, and listening to heavy metal music.

Another reason believed for the activity was drugs. According to Mr. Fargroni, traffic patterns shows that there was LSD use in Schoharie County. Fargroni believed that the best way to combat drug use is education. Also, Fargroni stated things to look for in a person taking drugs. “The number one thing to look for is character change.” Things to look for are depression, manic mood swings, an inability to concentrate, and slurred speech.

Hinchey added, “Don’t forget, it’s not illegal to worship the devil. It is illegal to vandalize and use drugs.”

Rumors of clergymen being threatened were also cleared up, for there was a fear that Satan-worshipers threatened priests and reverends. Since they were Satanists, it was believed that religious people would be harmed. In the end though, these fears proved to be unfounded, for these “threats” had never taken place.

There was a fear that, if a cult did exist, that they would go crazy on Halloween, so curfews were set. Some of the curfews in place today are there because of the cult scare, including the one on Halloween night. Mr. Stoddard stated that the curfew was put in place as a way to control people who want to wreak havoc in the town.

In the end, the cult was a farce. Much of the “cult activity” actually did turn out to be drug related. So if anyone is thinking about vandalizing anything, don’t claim that you’re a Satan-worshiper.


Times Journal. October 8, 1986. J. B. Mau.

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