Imagine growing up with a mother who sees Satan in your family, your father, your food, your car and in you.
For David Bain, who respected his mother, took her seriously and had a “wonderful, close relationship” with her, that was the reality of his family life.
Margaret Bain, who was 50 when she was fatally shot, was brought up in a strong Presbyterian family in Alexandra and continued her links with the church when she moved to Dunedin to study. She was an active churchgoer and youth group leader and through the church she met Robin Bain, eight years older but also a fervent Christian.
Neither were closed-minded or pious and Margaret was interested in other cultures, having studied anthropology at Otago University.
When they were first married they would read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran in bed at night. The book, first published in 1923, contains 26 prose poetry fables written in English by the Lebanese-American artist, philosopher and writer, who believed in the fundamental unity of all religions.
Her time in Papua New Guinea (1974-1988) exposed Margaret to the beliefs of tribes she had only read about at university.
She immersed herself in local culture and embraced some of the local beliefs in spirits and traditional healing practices. When the family was living in New Britain she was impressed by the influence of the old women in the village who were thought to possess special powers.
By the time the family was ready to leave Papua New Guinea, Margaret was fully committed to New Age concepts such as previous lives, channelling and dream analysis.
She was also using a key ring as a pendulum to tell her what God wanted her to do, even for such mundane things as shopping. Robin Bain clearly disapproved but was powerless and tolerant. He told a friend concerned about the filthy state of the house in Port Moresby that Margaret was away with the fairies.
Soon after returning to Dunedin, Margaret tried to recruit friends into some sort of voodoo cult and they remember her exorcising the family van before the family travelled.
It’s not clear how much of Margaret’s belief system the Bain children took on board but it appears they all agreed they should try to free themselves of satanic influences - or Belial, as Margaret called the evil spirit she detected everywhere.
Belial is a term from the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as Satan or all that is evil in Jewish and Christian texts. Margaret detected “Bel” in the house, in her children and especially in her husband Robin.
If he gave her the newspaper she would have to clear it of “Bel” and she had to “rededicate” parts of the house after he had been there. She worried Bel was talking through him and using him to get at her.
As her diary shows, she regarded David’s physical problems as examples of Satanic influences in him and got him to “grapple” with them. Together they worked on his feelings of inadequacy and pride. Laniet’s sickness meant she too had to battle Bel in her.
Margaret asked for Bel to be gone forever from 65 Every St and sometimes, when she felt she had succeeded, she could actually feel the "release" marking the fact of Satan's absence as "official".
Her desire to expel Bel from the house and family led to demands the children commit to God and to put Satan behind them. To Margaret they sometimes seemed to lack the required motivation although David seemed to be trying the hardest.
From her diary in 1993, Margaret appeared to believe God would not permit Robin to harm her and would somehow provide the funds for the new house if Robin left the marriage and took his half of the matrimonial property.
Closer to the time of the shootings, it seems Margaret was more concerned about her direct line to God and his wishes than the presence of Satan in the family. She believed she was receiving direct instructions from God on what David and Arawa should do during 1993.
It’s hard to escape the impression that Margaret Bain’s beliefs had a profound influence in the annihilation of the Bain family.