There is no set belief system for Goths, although many seem to be agnostic. A person's religion and his or her gothic involvement have little to no affect on each other. Christians, atheists, Jews, agnostics, Satanists, pagans, and so forth are all represented within Goth. While there is an incredibly wide variety of religious beliefs and views, most Goths do not follow any sort of organized religion. Their personal spiritual beliefs are of a private nature.
Gothic is a fairly open-minded culture when it comes to exploring anything that is "not of the norm." Religion is no exception. Many Goths are likely to explore alternative religions and forms of spirituality rather than following a dominant organized religion. Some find paganism and Wicca to be appealing.
Goths are often called Satanists because of their bizarre or dark appearance. There are some Satanists who are also Goth, but Satanists can be found in any random group of people. Satanism and the occult are extremely complex belief systems with as many differences in beliefs as Christianity. This is an area that creates the greatest amount of confusion and misinformation. Satanism as a documented religion, such as Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, is almost nothing like most people's concept of Satanism. Satanists are a very small percentage of Goths, and Goths are an extremely small percentage of Satanists.
In 1992, the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime published an extensive report by Kenneth Lanning, Supervisory Special Agent, entitled Satanic, Occult, Ritualistic Crime: A Law Enforcement Perspective. Excerpts from this study may help clarify some misunderstanding about satanism. This information also relates to the misunderstandings surrounding Goth:
"The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don't like this statement, but few can argue with it... After all the hype and hysteria is put aside, the realization sets in that most satanic/occult activity involves the commission of NO crimes, and that which does, usually involves the commission of relatively minor crimes... It is easy to blame involvement in satanism and the occult for behaviors that have complex motivations. A teenager's excessive involvement in Satanism and the occult is usually a symptom of a problem and not the cause of a problem. Blaming Satanism for a teenagers' vandalism, theft, suicide or even act of murder is like blaming a criminal's offenses on his tattoos: both are often signs of the same rebelliousness and lack of self-esteem that contribute to the commission of crimes.
"Most teenagers involved in fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal music, or Satanism and the occult are going through a stage of adolescent development and commit no significant crimes. The teenagers who have more serious problems are usually those from dysfunctional families or those who have poor communications within their families. Those troubled teenagers turn to Satanism and the occult to overcome a sense of alienation, to obtain power, or to justify their antisocial behaviour. For these teenagers, it is the symbolism, not the spirituality, that is important. It is either the psychopathic or the oddball, loner teenager who is most likely to get into serious trouble. Extreme involvement in the occult is a symptom of a problem, not the cause. This is not to deny, however, that Satanism and the occult are negative influences for a troubled teenager. But to hysterically warn teenagers to avoid this 'mysterious, powerful, and dangerous' thing called Satanism will drive some teenagers right into it. Some rebellious teenagers will do whatever will most shock and outrage society in order to flaunt their rejection of adult norms..."