Religion: Raising the Devil

"The devil made me buy this dress," says the minister's wife in one of Comedian Flip Wilson's routines. "He sneaked up behind me and said, 'Say, Mama, look at that dress in the window . . .' " The listener chuckles at the transparent rationalization. Everybody knows that there isn't any real devil. The devil is just a myth, a relic of folklore, grist for a joke.

Or is he? After years of being dismissed or ignored by many theologians and ordinary believers, the devil is making a startling comeback. Some cults now worship...

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