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Bethan Juliet Oake

PhD Candidate in the School Of Philosophy, Religion And History Of Science, University of Leeds

I previously undertook both my BA (Hons) and MA in Theology & Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. My dissertations focused on Contemporary Paganism and Nonreligion.

I began my PhD in October 2021, with funding through the AHRC via White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities.

My current project explores contemporary ‘Satanic Cult Conspiracy’ (SCC) discourse online. SCC refers to the longstanding conspiracy narrative that claims the existence of secret criminal, Satan-worshipping cults who engage in the ritualistic abuse and/or sacrifice of children. Satanic cult legends can be traced back to the 11th century, frequently resurfacing on and off throughout history to the present day – most recently, during the (predominantly) American ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980s. Today its rhetoric has again re-emerged, now intertwining itself within a far more diverse range of conspiracy narratives and religio-spiritual frameworks. My project analyses the current landscape of public SCC discourse online, looking into how it relates to the wider field of ‘conspirituality’ and what this can indicate regarding its future influence upon public social attitudes.

Research interests
Conspiracy theories
Contemporary Occultism
Online Religion
Cults and New Religious Movements
Nonreligious Identity


  • 2021–present
    PhD Candidate, University of Leeds


  • 2020 
    University of Leeds, MA Theology & Religious Studies
  • 2017 
    University of Leeds, BA Theology & Religious Studies


  • 2021
    The relationship between holistic practice and 'spiritual but not religious' identity in the UK,
  • 2019
    Attitudes towards potential harmful magical practices in Contemporary Paganism - a survey,