One can read in these Fundamentalist Christian's pamplets and books about how many murders they claim Satanists perform every year: some claim as high as 50,000 human beings murdered by Satanists EVERY YEAR. That figure is more than twice the murder rate in America; greater than the number of dead Americans (47,369) during the entire Vietnam War (er, "police action"). It is equal to alcohol-related automobile deaths every year in North America. It is almost one-tenth of the number of deaths caused by cigarette smoking (450,000 per year). 50,000 per year is one Hell of a lot of bodies!
Robert D. Hicks in his book, In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult, Buffalo (NY): Prometheus Press, 1991 (ISBN: 0-87975-604-7) mentions the 50,000-per-year figure as the one most common, though the Mesa Tribune, Mesa, AZ mentioned a claimed figure as high as two million! The Wall Street Journal (Friday, March 9, 1990) mentions the 50,000 claim.
Let's ignore the fact that Satanists do not, as a rule, kill people any more than Jews, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims do. Are there enough Satanists in America to perform 50,000 murders each and every year?
Yes. And no. It depends.
What is a Satanist? If someone calls himself (I use the pronoun accurately: it's usually a HIM) a Satanist, does that make him one? Does claiming to "worshiping Satan" make one a Satanist (ignore the fact that most Satanists do not worship Satan)?
If you believe so, what about if a person claims to be a Christian and claims to worship Jesus--- does that make her or him a Christian? Most Christians I know would say "No." Intention, commitment, and sincerity is what makes a Christian a "real" Christian. Conversion and gifts from The Spirit would confirm the claim of Christian-hood.
One finds that few people who claim to be Satanists actually are. They tend to be teen-aged boys; their sincerity is at best questionable; their intention is to antagonize their parents, teachers, and peers; their commitment is fleeting. Indeed, if Satanism was the "norm" in society instead of Christianity, they would be calling themselves Christians. As a rule, they harm no one but themselves. Their "Satanism" is a ruse to garner attention and "respect." The average count of this kind of "Satanist" I've seen in rational, scholarly books and magazine articles is roughly 20,000 throughout North America (the USA and Canada). There are no "Satanists" of this type in Mexico worth counting, except along the boarders where the traffic of drugs and illegal aliens occurs.
Religious Satanists, i.e. the "true" Satanists, are another story. There are still "Satanic" churches in America, but their numbers are very few, and decreasing steadily. The Church of Satan, at its highest membership, numbered 50,000 (there's that number again!), but since LeVey started selling priesthoods and playing silly membership games, the membership has plummeted.
Their membership was divided into two groups: those who joined because it was a trendy, oh-so-Hollywood thing to do, and those who wanted what Satanism offered. I suspect the bulk belonged to the former group. The latter group tended to be Satanists out of a rejection of Christianity (as unworkable, hypocritical, even evil), not as embracing Satanism per se: if some other religion, with fewer hypocritically self-righteous people than Christianity, had been available, I suspect they would have chosen it instead of Satanism.
What did The Church of Satan offer? Basically, it offered self-esteem. It offered a mechanism where the awkward, the ugly, the socially inept could go to recitify their emotional and social handicaps. The Church did this by offering a different morality than what was the "norm," and a social climate where they could act out the alternate mores with approval. Sexuality was expressed in an exciting, less repressive atmosphere than the membership was used to outside Satanism: they were free to explore, find their own level, and grow into their own mold instead of some pre-concieved pattern society had chosen for them. Ritual (pre-planned movement with some spontaneity) made exploring sexuality much safer to those who had personal issues (i,e. "problems") with sexuality.
Such Satanists as found in the Church of Satan did not, and do not, pose a threat to society in general, and individuals in particular. Their creed is to harm noone unless they have themselves been grieviously harmed: they are then enjoined to return equally the harm they have experienced. It is a matter of self-respect to not take injury and insult. As LeVey wrote, "If one slaps thy cheek, smash him on his!" This enjoiner is not limited to Satanism, of course: it is street-gang mentality; military mentality; indeed, male mentality as a rule. Satanism merely made the rule overt instead of covert.
The Temple of Set is another "Satanic" Church, though membership seems to have steadied at a few thousand in North America. The membership is much more restrictive than the Church of Satan was: nuts, kooks, and lunatics are weeded out.
All totaled, there are about 8,000 to 11,000 Satanists in North America. That does not count the self-styled "Satanists" who are rebellious, angry teen-agers. Even if they did murder (and there is no reason to suspect Satanists kill people), 50,000 a year spreads very thick--- four and a half murders per Satanist per year. That is "Serial Killer Satus" in anyone's book. It just doesn't happen. Claimants who say otherwise refuse to present evidence for their claims: I'll leave it up to the reader to figure out why some Fundamentalist Christians make up such claims.