On Thursday, Michael Cassidy, a Christian Navy veteran, toppled a satanic statue installed by the Satanic Temple at the Iowa State Capitol, leading to a complex discussion about religious freedom and the use of public spaces. Cassidy said his act of protest was done to “awaken Christians to the anti-Christian acts promoted by our government.”
The Satanic Temple is a far-left atheistic advocacy organization and is known for its controversial displays on public property that mock Christianity and religion in general. This Christmas, the group placed a statue of Baphomet — an occultist deity figure — among traditional displays inside the state capitol building.
This is Michael Cassidy. He is a devout Christian and former military officer.
Michael just tore down and beheaded the Satan idol that was erected in the Iowa Capitol.
Not all heroes wear capes. pic.twitter.com/8j9z31lxop
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) December 14, 2023
Cassidy says that such displays in government buildings contradict the values of the nation’s founders. “The world may tell Christians to submissively accept the legitimization of Satan, but none of the founders would have considered government sanction of Satanic altars inside Capitol buildings as protected by the First Amendment,” he said.
The Satanic Temple criticized Cassidy while hypocritically claiming it is a legitimate religious organization. Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves told reporters: “I would hope that even people who disagree with the symbolism behind our values, whether they know what those values are or not, would at least appreciate that it’s certainly a greater evil to allow the government to pick and choose between forms of religious expression.”
Cassidy immediately took responsibility for taking the statue down and turned himself in to officers. He has been charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief.
The incident will reignite the American debate about the limits and appropriateness of differing forms of religious expression in public spaces. Iowa state Rep. Brad Sherman (R) said of the incident: “It is a tortured and twisted interpretation of law that affords Satan, who is universally understood to be the enemy of God, religious expression equal to God in an institution of government that depends upon God for continued blessings.”
Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a "religion" by the federal government. I'll chip in to contribute to this veteran's legal defense fund.
Good prevails over evil — that's the American spirit. https://t.co/p1vmTcl8c9
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) December 15, 2023
Florida Gov. and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis (R) also weighed in on the incident, voicing his support for Michael Cassidy’s actions. The governor, also a Navy veteran, said, “Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government.”
DeSantis said he is willing to contribute to Cassidy’s legal defense fund, reinforcing his belief that good will triumph over evil.