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The Devil Made Them Do It

April 28, 1985

Procter & Gamble Co., which makes a broad range of consumer products, has announced plans to drop from all of its packaging the familiar moon-and-stars trademark that it first officially adopted 103 years ago. The decision was forced, rather than voluntary. For years P&G has been harassed by recurring rumors that its symbol is in fact a satanic device, signifying support for the Devil. More than 100,000 people have written or phoned the company to ask about these stories. Bizarre? Yes. Ridiculous? Of course. But there it is. In the waning years of the 20th Century there are those who believe that a $13-billion corporation is somehow in league with the archfiend.

Explanations and denials by the company have failed to quell the rumors, which have regularly resurfaced embellished with preposterous new details. One has to do with the supposed appearance by a company executive on a national television program, where, it is claimed, he admitted that P&G regularly tithes to the Church of Satan. P&G has filed lawsuits against identifiable spreaders of the rumors, among them a television weatherman in Georgia and a nursing-home newsletter in Minnesota, and has won public apologies for the slanders. But the will to believe is a powerful thing, and the rumors have persisted.

One of the recent rumormongers, the minister of a church in Virginia with a congregation of "10 regular members, maybe more," is unimpressed by P&G's decision. Asked if he would be satisfied if the company opened its books to prove that it was not contributing to a satanic church, he shrewdly replied that he would not be, since "they could still be sending cash."

Such religious figures as the Rev. Billy Graham, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago have publicly denounced the rumors of a relation between P&G and satanism. And still the stories have gone on. Lately one-page flyers have been appearing in banks and factories repeating the allegations. The P&G logo shows 13 stars, honoring the 13 original states, and the face of the man in the moon, a popular artistic device in the 19th Century. It has always seemed innocent enough. But those who profess to understand satanism claim to know better.

It comes as no surprise to be reminded that there are unenlightened and superstitious minds, ever willing to grant credence to utterly crazy notions. It does come as something of a surprise and even a shock when the nation's 22nd-largest corporation falls victim to such screwiness. Yes, devilishness does indeed exist among us. It is only necessary to note the persistence of malicious irrationality to know that this is so.

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