Based on controversial judicial interpretations of the First Amendment, a growing number of schools and other public places have been forced to provide a forum for the Satanic Temple in recent years.
One of the most recent examples involves Iowa’s state Capitol building, which unveiled a massive monument to Satan recently to widespread criticism. While the move sparked a host of disapproving remarks on social media, one critic reportedly took matters into his own hands.
Michael Cassidy, a U.S. Navy veteran and one-time congressional candidate in Mississippi, allegedly entered the building on Thursday and destroyed the statue. Reports indicate he surrendered to police and admitted his role in the incident. In addition to criminal mischief charges, he is expected to face a lawsuit from the Satanic Temple.
Despite allegations that he technically broke the law, many Americans nationwide saw Cassidy’s act as morally just and an online fundraiser for his mounting legal fees began accumulating cash almost immediately.
The fundraiser reached its $20,000 goal in less than three hours, bolstered by a $10,000 contribution by conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA.
I’ve been notified of more potential legal charges unfortunately, so I’ve opened the legal fund donation back up.
All donations in excess of what is directly related to my defense shall be donated to a Christian legal fund.
Thank you again.
— Michael Cassidy ✝️ 🇺🇸 (@Mike_Cassidy_MS) December 15, 2023
Meanwhile, Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been inundated with calls to remove the Satanic monument from the public space entirely.
Citing the reference to “One Supreme God” in Iowa’s Constitution, GOP state Rep. Brad Sherman, who is also a Christian pastor, published a clear denunciation of the Satanic Temple’s scheme.
“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,” he wrote.
State Rep. Jon Dunwell, also a Republican and pastor, offered a more nuanced response, noting that the Satanic monument “glorifies the evil influence we oppose” but acknowledged that “access for displays at the Capitol are open to anyone through an application process” — including the Satanic Temple.
While begrudgingly defending the statue strictly on legal grounds, he added that the “primary response required is prayer,” which echoes Reynolds’ reaction to the controversy.
“Like many Iowans, I find the Satanic Temple’s display in the Capitol absolutely objectionable,” the governor wrote. “In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech, and I encourage all those of faith to join me today in praying over the Capitol and recognizing the nativity scene that will be on display — the true reason for the season.”