1986: When A Former Nazi Sued Satan In The Name Of Jesus Christ

Culture | October 24, 2019

Jon Lovitz as the devil, on Saturday Night Live. Source: IMDB

In 1986, Ralph P. Forbes of London, Arkansas, decided he'd had enough of Halloween devilishness, and filed a lawsuit.

On behalf of himself, Jesus Christ, and children.

Against the Arkansas Department of Education, the National Education Association, the Russellville School District, the Church of Satan and Satan. 

At issue was the state's tolerance of non-Christian rituals in schools on October 31. There was some diabolical stuff going on in Arkansas schools, and Forbes wanted it to stop. The Arkansas educational system was playing footsie with Satan himself by, in the words of the suit, "permitting pupils to wear costumes to school on Halloween."

Who Was Ralph Forbes?

Ralph Forbes in the '60s. Source: dailybreeze.com

It's important to know that Ralph Forbes wasn't just a cranky, anti-fun Christian. Forbes was a Nazi -- a real, American Nazi. He had been a high-ranking officer in George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party in the 1960s. Forbes was one of a few Nazis who made headlines in 1961 (and got a nod in a Bob Dylan song) for picketing the movie Exodus in Philadelphia. Forbes was active in Rockwell's organization in California in the '60s, and at some point Rockwell gave Forbes the job of setting up a Christian Identity group.

Christian Identity is a white supremacist theology that figures white Europeans -- and not Jews -- are the descendants of the Old Testament Israelites. 

By 1986, Forbes was identifying himself as a "former" member of the Nazi party. He was also working with the political campaigns of America's favorite Klansman-politician, David Duke.

Forbes Had Hoped To Be A US Senator

Analysis of the 1986 Arkansas US Senate election. Source: ourcampaigns.com

Forbes was running for the U.S. Senate as an independent candidate when, on the day before Halloween 1986, he filed his suit against Satan. Forbes lost the early-November election badly, receiving just 52 votes. But without the hassle of prepping for a career in the Senate, he was free to pursue his lawsuit against Satan.

The Trial

Jon Lovitz as the Devil On SNL (morethings.com)

Naturally, this incredibly reasonable lawsuit found a judge willing to hear it out: U.S District Judge Geroge Howard Jr. Once a judge agreed to hear the case, attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. valiantly agreed to defend Satan at no cost to the Devil himself. Hall represented the Lord of the Underworld pro bono publico, which means for the good of the public. It also couldn’t hurt Hall to defend the Devil should he end up in Hell.  

In Defense Of The Devil

Perhaps This Frivolous Lawsuit Spawned This Very Movie (thisisbarry.com)

Using his well-earned law degree, the Devil’s lawyer argued that the case be dismissed on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that “Satan transacts business, owns property or has committed torts in Arkansas.” Furthermore, Hall argued that a lawsuit between Jesus and his client “cannot be litigated in federal court under provisions of the First Amendment.” 

The Devil's Advocate

Unfortunately, The Devil Declined To Take The Stand (somethingawful.com)

During a phone interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ralph Forbes, the plaintiff, told the newspaper he was a former member of the American Nazi Party, adding Halloween is “the devil’s holiday.”

It also appears the Devil’s advocate, John Wesley Hall Jr. held some experience litigating for carnal rights. “It has been alleged before that I am the devil’s lawyer,” he said. “I once represented an adult bookstore when the city was trying to close it down. But no, I’m not house counsel for Satan.”

Tags: George Lincoln Rockwell | Halloween | Nazis | Ralph Forbes | Satanism

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!