Dennis Rader, the disgusting, twisted pervert who flattered himself with the moniker “BTK” (for “bind, torture, and kill”), is a living witness to the existence of the Devil. On August 18,2005, he was sentenced to 175 consecutive years in prison for ten grisly murders—the harshest sentence that Judge Gregory Waller of the Wichita district court could issue under Kansas law. Before Judge Waller read his sentence, members of the victims’ families struggled through statements of rage and bitter sorrow, after which Mr. Rader offered them a 20-minute retrospective on their loved ones, whom he had terrorized and brutalized before executing them and engaging in acts of sexual perversion before their corpses. With diabolical fondness and tenderness, he recalled how much he shared in common with each of his victims. “Joseph Otero was in the Air Force,” he said. “I was in the Air Force. He was a husband. I was a husband. So our threads are close.”

Mr. Rader showed little emotion when, in almost the same breath, he described victim Nancy Fox as a “wonderful young lady,” then admitted that he “track[ed] her just like a predator.” However, he choked back tears when he recalled his childhood fondness for puppies. “Joseph Otero, too—he was just like me at one time, a boy and a dog.”

Mr. Rader carefully planned each of his unspeakable acts, calling them “projects.” One of fliem, “Project Cookie,” involved his 53-year-old neighbor Marine Hedge, whom he strangled on April 27, 1985, in her home. He then took her body to his church, Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Wichita, where he staged elaborate scenes of perversion for photographing. Rader later confessed to police that, in preparation for this event, he had stored such items as black plastic sheets at the church.

Rader’s close association with his church proved to be his undoing. At the time of his arrest, he was serving as congregation president. When Wichita police received a floppy disk containing a message from the BTK Killer (Rader had taunted police and media for years with cryptic messages celebrating his crimes), they traced the disk to a computer at Christ Lutheran, on which Rader had prepared the minutes from the church-council meeting. Pastor Michael G. Clark and his parishioners were immediately plunged into turmoil on February 25, when the police showed up with a warrant to search the church and informed Clark of Rader’s arrest.

The Reverend Clark’s liberal denomination had ill prepared him to handle such an event, in a recent interview with the Kansas City Star, Clark recalled his thinking in the days following Rader’s arrest, as he reflected on the Gospel narrative describing Jesus’ Last Supper, the night in which He was betrayed. “Finally, [Jesus] comes to Judas and he says, ‘The one who dips this bread in mv dish is my betrayer.’ We hear that. That’s very clear. But what we don’t hear is the next line; ‘And Satan entered into him.'”

“I had never heard that,” he continued. “Or never understood it. Today I do understand it because of what I’ve been through with Dennis and the fact that I firmly believe I have looked evil in the eye.”

Nonetheless, the Reverend Clark still sounded conflicted, as interviewer Bill Tammeus asked him specifically if he now believes that “there’s a personified, living Satan as opposed to evil generally or unpersonified.”

“More personified,” he replied, admitting that his “experiences and training” had caused him to discount the existence of the Devil. Today’s sophisticated liberal theology, which permeates Clark’s denomination, sees Satan as a mere “object we need to project evil onto because the source of evil is within us.” Despite the clear teachings of die Bible, Clark admits that he would have dismissed anyone who claimed to believe in the Devil as “just plain crazy”—that is, before Dennis Rader.

Clergy (and members) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are not required to believe in the Devil. According to, “there are ELCA Lutherans who understand Satan … to be a very real being, author of evil, prompter of sin, destroyer of humankind. Other ELCA Lutherans view Satan metaphorically—as the personification of evil forces in this world that oppose and obstruct God’s will in every age, be they human or spiritual.” It should come as no surprise, then, that these pastors are not required to believe that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary (“When we confess . . . the Apostles’ Creed… we are not making a gynecological assertion”) or that Jesus literally and bodily rose from the dead (“a supernatural reality which does not belong to this world and cannot be the object of historic investigation”).

This theological agnosticism stems from the ELCA’s liberal approach toward the Bible itself. Over the course of the 20th century, it became fashionable to view tire thornier passages of Scripture—talking serpents, demonic possession—as reflections of “time-bound cultural understandings or practices.” Armed with the wisdom of modern psychology, historicism, and (a)morality, the Christian is tasked with determining the truth of the Bible for himself “[W]e sometimes conclude either that the writer’s culture or personal experience (e.g., subordination of women or keeping slaves) seems to have prompted his missing what God was saying or doing, or that God now is saying or doing something new.” Thus, the ELCA has, for years, ordained women (pace such culturally bound apostles as Saint Paul) and is now reexamining its stance toward blessing homosexual “marriage” and clergy.

Not two weeks after Mr. Rader’s arrest, Christ Lutheran entertained “guest preacher Pastor Janice Kibler of the Synod Staff,” who stated that, when it comes to manifestations of evil, “theologically, the simple answers are not satisfying.” Yet, as the weeks wore on, it seems that the simple answers of historic Christianity made more sense to Pastor Clark, who confesses that, while “we are the ones who ultimately make the decisions,” nonetheless, “Satan has the ability to use us… we psychologicalize [sic] evil in this world, and we explain it and justify it in psychological language. And the reason we do that is we can measure it, we can test it, we can diagnose it and then we can put it into a category.”

Sometimes, those “plain crazy” teachings of Scripture intrude upon our categories. In this case, serial killer Dennis Rader taught his pastor that the Devil is real. Perhaps Pastor Clark can teach the ELCA.