It was a complex situation, and even though he railed at us and condemned us, his actions were clearly a sign of his own struggles and I could not bring myself to be harsh with him, and he did give me a £5 note, so at least he was generous as well as religiously harrassing (not that giving me money ameliorates bad behaviour, and I do wonder if he thought giving me money was simply a way to get my time). I didn't know what to do about the situation; I felt cornered because busking generally means I have to stand with my back to a wall to avoid being in the way of pedestrians, and although people were walking by, nobody helped me and I could not see any security guards or police, although I did feel that they might just treat him as another obnoxious drunk, when he probably needed more nunaced help than that.
This got me thinking that it is a common misconception that Goth is synonymous with Satanism, or at least that it is inherently Satanic, and I feel like it would be productive to break down that misconception.
Goth is simply a subculture that is focused on having an appreciation for the morbid, dark and spooky in music, fashion, art and literature; it has no religious affiliation at all, and Goths come from all religions as well as agnostic and atheists.
That is the short response, but does not really contain any nuance, not does it explain why Goths sometimes use Satanic imagery, or gives any differentiated understanding of how occult themes tie into the Gothic, and as such does little to shed light on how Goth is not Satanic even though it looks like it could be.
Satanic imagery is used within the Gothic subculture for several reasons.
Sometimes Satanic imagery is used for shock value, especially by those who feel constrained by a conservative cultural backdrop and wish to differentiate themselves as other, as part of something taboo, dark and frightening. Often it is teens who do this, and it is not representative of the wearer's/displayer's true religious or spiritual beliefs, but part of a more complicated process of wishing to separate themselves and create their own identity. Often, this is a passing phase - either because all interest in dark and spooky things is a passing phase, or because they mature into somebody more onfident in their identity, rather than identifying themsleves oppositionally to others. Some people carry this behaviour on into adulthood, but usually this is a behaviour that people mature out of. Often, Satanic imagery used for shock value is not used in a way that is coherent with the actual uses of those symbols within Satanism or the occult, and is often mixed up with symbols from other religious and spiritual groups (I have seen the Star of David and Wiccan symbols appropriated into this sort of shock-value pseudo-Satanism, but that is another matter entirely.)
Some Goths actually are Satanists, but they are a minority even within the Goth scene - these people will use Satanic symbols correctly, and tend not to advertise their Satanic affiliations. Most of the actual Satanists I know personally are not Goths; they tend to be more "nerdy" and less into the theatric and ostentatious aesthetics of Goth. Most of the Satanists I have met subscribe to a version of Satanism where Satan is an archetype of independence, hedonism and suchlike, rather than a deliberately Anti-Christian worship of the Devil. I have never met an actual Devil-worshipper, someone who subscribes to a Christian theology and cosmology, but looks towards Hell and the Devil rather than to Heaven and Jesus - I am not saying they do not exist, just that such people must be quite rare, even amongst Gothic and Occult circles.
Sometimes people mistake Neo-Pagan iconography and symbolism for Satanic imagery, for example confusion can arise over the use of pentacles and pentagrams (and their inverted variations), and this is exascerbated by the misuse of these symbols (please read ::this:: article on the 'occult trend' I wrote earlier this year). Neo-Paganism is a religion that has no concept of an adversarial dichotomy, with no Hell or Satan. Some people hold the belief that all things other than their specific religious path are Satanic or at least a distraction or deception from what they see as the truth, but outside of that belief structure, there is little in Neo-Paganism that could mark it as anything Satanic, any more than say, Buddhism or Hinduism; it is a completely different belief system to any of the monotheistic faiths. As Goths often have an interest in the spiritual, and are apt to look outside conventional spirituality for answers, there are quite a few Neo-Pagans within Goth, but again, not all Goths are Neo-Pagans, and not all Neo-Pagans are Goths (quite a few dress very 'mainstream' and others -a significant proportion- are more inclined towards Hippy and 'Bohemian' aesthetics.).
There are some people who feel badly hurt by Christianity, or who see it as a destructive force, and who use Christian symbols and anti-Christian symbols as a critique of Christianity and the power of organised religion; sometimes this falls into the territory of shock-value, and sometimes it is done with more refinement and nuance, but this is not unique to Goth, even though it does exist within the Gothic subculture, nor is it something you have to engage in as a Goth. Goths tend to be people who have been outcast by the traditional community structures, and that can include the Church, and/or people who use Christianity as an excuse to harasss people they disagree with (a bit like the man in my opening paragraphs) - as such, there are probably a greater percentage of Goths who do this than non-Goths. Personally, even as an apostate, I find this sort of thing can often be more harmful and rectionary than productive. I don't think religions should be beyond criticism or critique, but I do think that there ways to go about doing this, and there are ways that are just rude and mean, where the message is lost in the missive.
There are, of course, more than these four contexts, but these are the four most common contexts and reasons for the use of Satanic imagery within the Gothic subculture. Sometimes it is used in the traditional way it was used within Gothic horror; as a symbol for various evils or villainry that a good person can come across, for example.
The use of Satanic imagery is not inherent to Goth - the use of dark imagery is, but not all dark imagery has to come from the cultural/religious context of Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil - there are plenty more traditions to draw from, and a lot of Gothic imagery comes from European folk-tales, sometimes more entwined with Christianity. The imagery of death, decay, transience and similar are part of the human experience, and appear in different ways across all cultures. There is plenty of positive Christian iconography used in Goth as well - but that is a topic for different blog entry entirely (and something I would quite like to write about, and get some of my Christian Goth friends to write guest posts for, but that is for a different time). Not everything dark is Satanic even in a Christian context; the Bible is full of stories about people who had to overcome pain, suffering and violence, and the very concepts of martyrdom and Christ as crucified saviour involve death and sacrifice; not everything that is dark is inherently negative.
Goths are not synonymous with Satanists, we are not a group who worship the Devil or are anti-Christian; we are diverse with diverse perspectives outside of things that are actually Goth (of which specific religious affiliation is not). There are quite a few Goths who are Christians, and there are Goths who are Jewish, Muslim, and members of other monotheistic faiths. There are even Goth priests - check out the ::Priestly Goth Blog:: for example. You cannot tell someone's religion by their subcultural affiliation.