As the 2004 presidential election heats up, so do the urban legends about the candidates. One of the latest features a photo of John Kerry with the Church of Satan founder.

An alleged newspaper photo from the San Francisco Chronicle shows Kerry cordially greeting Anton LaVey—founder of the Church of Satan.

The caption beneath the photo reads, “PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF: Anton LaVey, high priest of the Church of Satan, meets with noted attorney John Kerry at CISPES function.”

The cropped article accompanying the photo quotes Kerry as saying, “I believe that God is within each one of us, that each individual partakes of divinity.”

The newspaper is dated Sunday, July 17, 1982. Actually, July 17 was a Saturday in 1982.

An analysis of the hoax by urban legends researcher David Emery at said the image was a composite of Kerry shaking hands with clown Rami Salami in 1998 and LaVey meeting with rocker Marilyn Manson in 1994.

LaVey, who founded what he called the Church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966, died in 1997.

The Kerry-LaVey photo hoax isn’t the only piece of Kerry “netlore” infiltrating the Internet. Other circulating items include: a faked photo of Kerry and Jane Fonda sharing the podium at an anti-war rally; an e-mail listing all the homes of Kerry (which are actually deeded to his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry); and a collection of dimwitted sayings attributed to Kerry (most of which were actually spoken by former Vice-President Dan Quayle).

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for

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