On the late Tuesday/early Wednesday edition of Nightline, ABC's Byron Pitts zeroed in on how the organizer of a Satanic ritual in Oklahoma City in September 2014 has a criminal record of sexual assault. Pitts underlined that how the felon, Adam Daniels, claims to be a "religious leader," and is yet a "convicted sex offender." The correspondent bluntly turned to Daniels and said, "You get how, for most people, those two things don't line up."
Pitts also pointed out another controversy that the Satanic leader is involved in: his plan to build an altar to Satan that incorporates debris from the Oklahoma City bombing. The ABC journalist confronted Daniels about this move: [video below]
BYRON PITTS: For many that support Daniels' right to religious expression, he crossed a different line with his plan to build an altar to Satan....His building material of choice? Debris from one of the deadliest domestic terrorist attacks in U.S. history.
DANIELS: Rubble from the Oklahoma City bombing.
PITTS (on-camera): What?
ADAM DANIELS, CO-FOUNDER & PASTOR, DAKHMA OF ANGRA MAINYU: Because it would have one of the most highly negative charges that you could have on – energy-wise.
PITTS: A hundred and sixty-eight men, women, and children were killed in that building.
DANIELS: Yes, sir!
PITTS: That is a painful moment for this nation – certainly, for this community – and you want to make an altar out of that?
DANIELS: Yeah – creation through destruction.
Host Dan Harris teased Pitts's report by noting how the convicted criminal "touched off a religious war in the Bible Belt. On one side, the Satan-loving preacher and his followers threatening to desecrate one of the holy sacraments of the Catholic Church. On the other, more than a thousand protesters fighting to stop them." He wondered, "Is this freedom of religion or hate speech?" Harris later reported that Daniels "seems completely unashamed of his own decidedly-checkered past."
The ABC correspondent began with footage of the Satanic ceremony, and quickly juxtaposed it with video of the "Christians by the hundreds [who] demonstrated outside the Oklahoma City Civic Center – Christian conservatives, mostly." Pitts interviewed two of the demonstrators before playing his first two clips of his interview of Daniels, which included his focus on the demon-loving leader's criminal past:
PITTS (voice-over): Today, Adam Daniels works as a restaurant cook. But he is also a convicted sex offender.
PITTS (on-camera): You say that you are a religious leader.
PITTS: And you are also a convicted sex offender.
PITTS: You get how, for most people, those two things don't line up.
DANIELS: That's fine. They can have whatever thoughts they want to have, sir.
Before turning to the Catholic archbishop of Oklahoma, the journalist highlighted how Daniel's group "had threatened to desecrate one of the holy sacraments of the Catholic Church, the communion wafer." Pitt's liberal leanings emerged during this portion of his report, as he reacted skeptically to the cleric's claim that he has encountered the demonic:
MOST REVEREND PAUL S. COAKLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF OKLAHOMA CITY: ...I still think there's a real danger involved in what – what's taking place here today.
PITTS (on-camera): Danger because?
COAKLEY: I believe the powers that they are invoking are real. This isn't entertainment. This isn't a horror movie.
PITTS: Isn't this about freedom of religion?
COAKLEY: It is not about freedom of religion, in my view.
COAKLEY: This is more about hate speech, the way I view it.
PITTS (voice-over): The archbishop sees this as an assault on the soul of humanity.
COAKLEY: I've witnessed demonic possession.
PITTS: That sounds like stuff you hear in the movies, like 'The Exorcist.' (clip from the movie "The Exorcist")
COAKLEY: That – 'The Exorist' was based upon a true story. Satanic influences are real.
PITTS: Oh, come on!
COAKLEY: (laughs) I'm a priest. I've seen it.
However, the correspondent also scoffed at Daniels's assertion that he has spiritual powers, and called out his malicious intent:
PITTS: Daniels...says he has supernatural powers – and he's dead serious.
DANIELS: Well, somebody crosses you in a certain way, why can't I use magic to attack them?
PITTS (on-camera): Magic?
PITTS: For instance?
DANIELS: For instance, why wouldn't I hex or curse somebody?
PITTS: Curse – have you put a curse on anyone?
DANIELS: For example, we have an opponent whose mother was dying of cancer. And when a destruction ritual was done, it put his mother out.
PITTS: Oh, come on! You can't be serious.
DANIELS: Very serious.
PITTS: And so, you think you're responsible for her death?
DANIELS: That's a possibility, and a very high possibility.
PITTS: Part of that is offensive.
PITTS: Part of it is incredibly arrogant-
PITTS: You're playing God, it sounds like.
DANIELS: I can.
Pitts spotlighted the convict's plans for the Oklahoma City bombing debris near the end of the segment. He also interviewed some of the attendees of the Satanic ritual – both of whom didn't take it seriously:
PITTS (voice-over): ...It's the morning of the event, and as he and his followers start to set up over the civic center, a protester has gotten through security.
DANIELS: What's this?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: It's my cross.
DANIELS: Why is it here?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Because I believe in it.
DANIELS: But- (rubs out hand-drawn cross)
DANIELS: He took anointing oil; he made a cross; he splashed it; and he made a prayer. And I caught him in the middle of it, and he took off.
PITTS: The man was never identified.
DANIELS: After he cleans that up, spit and defile it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: Uh-huh. Okay.
PITTS: The service went on as planned. 'The Exorcist' it was not. (clip of Satanists shouting, "Ave Satanas!") Afterwards, we wondered if anyone who attended was at all moved. In a word – no.
PITTS (on-camera): So, was it $20 well spent?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: I can't – I can't say that. It was a little hokey.
PITTS: What do you think now if you've seen some of it?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: You know, I mean, it's okay. I mean, it's just – it's nothing to be worried about.
PITTS (voice-over): Most here believe Adam Daniels and his small band of follows will once again drift back into obscurity. Freedom of religion, or freakish sideshow, it did remind us: faith in America runs deep – in a country where all are welcome, if not embraced.