Bethan Juliet Oake


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 the contemporary resurgence of ‘Satanic Cult Conspiracy Theory’ discourse online – a longstanding conspiracy theory narrative that claims the existence of secret criminal, Satan-worshipping cults who seek to morally subvert society. Satanic cult legends can be traced back to the 11th century, periodically resurfacing to fuel moral panics and witch hunts against those targeted with its accusations. Its most recent resurence took the form of the ‘Satanic Panic' of the 60s-90s, which saw countless innocent individuals falsely charged and sentenced on hoax allegations of Satanic crime. Today its rhetoric has again re-emerged, leading to speculation as to whether we may be witnessing a new wave of ‘Satanic moral panic' - this time primarily fuelled by online discourse. My project explores the relationship between moral panic and conspiracy theory through analysing current Satanic cult conspiracy theory rhetotic across social media, focusing on: 1) How these conspiracy theories interpret moral threat – what is the concern? 2) How these conspiracy theories demonstrate scapegoating rhetoric – who is being blamed for this concern? 3) How do these conspiracy theories evidence and legitimise themselves? 

Research interests

  • Moral panics
  • Witch hunts
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Contemporary Occultism
  • Online Religion
  • Cults and New Religious Movements
  • Nonreligious Identity



  • BA (Hons) Theology & Religious Studies
  • MA Theology & Religious Studies