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Navy veteran topples satanic display in Iowa Capitol, blasts 'anti-Christian' acts by gov't

Navy veteran topples satanic display in Iowa Capitol, blasts 'anti-Christian' acts by gov't
'My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree'

By Jon Brown, Christian Post Reporter
December 14, 2023

A satanic display in the Iowa state Capitol that sparked fierce debate online and between state legislators was torn down and beheaded Thursday, December 14, 2023, by a Christian Navy veteran. | Republic Sentinel

A Christian veteran tore down and beheaded a satanic statue in the Iowa state Capitol that sparked fierce debate online and between state legislators over the past week.

Michael Cassidy, 35, a former Navy officer and Mississippi congressional candidate, toppled the demonic statue of Baphomet and tossed its silver ram's head in the trash before blasting those who attempted to justify it on constitutional grounds, according to the Republic Sentinel.

"I saw this blasphemous statue and was outraged. My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree," Cassidy told the outlet, paraphrasing Martin Luther's defense before the Diet of Worms. "And so I acted."

A photo tweeted out by the Sentinel showed pool noodles emerging from the cape of the toppled mannequin, which stood for nearly two weeks in front of a candle-lit altar extolling the seven "Fundamental Tenets" of The Satanic Temple. It was slated to come down Friday.

Cassidy told the Sentinel that he did what he did in an attempt to "awaken Christians to the anti-Christian acts promoted by our government."

"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.

"Anti-Christian values have steadily been mainstreamed more and more in recent decades, and Christians have largely acted like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot of water," he added.

Cassidy reportedly turned himself in to officers at the scene, and the Iowa State Patrol confirmed to The Christian Post that they were dispatched to the Capitol on a vandalism report and that Cassidy was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief.

After news of his actions went viral on X, Cassidy tweeted 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

The Satanic Temple Iowa reportedly intends to press charges against Cassidy, though his attorney Davis Younts told the Sentinel that his client "was motivated by his faith to peacefully protest a display that is a direct affront to God" after elected leaders and others were "unwilling to act."

"It is my hope that the citation will be dismissed when my client's actions are understood and that he will not face prosecution because of his faith," he said.

The destruction of the display comes the same week that it drew national backlash as state lawmakers debated the most appropriate response.

Iowa state Rep. Jon Dunwell, a Republican and Christian pastor, posted a viral thread on X last weekend explaining that while he personally finds the altar "objectionable" and "classified as evil," he does not believe it to be the government's place to arbitrate religion.

"For me, I would rather have an evil, blasphemous display or no display at all than have the state dictate what they think is appropriate," Dunwell told CP in an interview earlier this week.

Iowa state Rep. Brad Sherman, another Republican and pastor, argued in a newsletter last week that the display violates the 1857 Iowa Constitution, which established the state as dependent on God. He urged Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to have the statue removed.

Reynolds issued a statement Tuesday condemning it as "absolutely objectionable," though she stopped short of calling for its removal and instead argued that "in a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech."

Reynolds also tweeted a photo of herself Wednesday praying during a service in the Capitol rotunda in front of a Nativity scene, just feet away from the satanic altar.

The Satanic Temple Iowa confirmed the destruction of their display in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"This morning, we were informed by authorities that the Baphomet statue in our holiday display was destroyed beyond repair," they said. "We are proud to continue our holiday display for the next few days that we have been allotted."

"We ask that for safety, visitors travel together and use the 7 Tenets as a reminder for empathy, in the knowledge that justice is being pursued the correct way, through legal means. Solve et Coagula! Happy Holidays! Hail Satan!"

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, took to X to describe the act as a "hate crime."

"They had their own displays, their own protests, they 'filled the capitol with prayers,' they did interviews with media outlets who allowed them to put words in our mouths without seeking comment from us & then they vandalized our display anyways. And they still play the victim," Greaves said.

You can read more here: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2023/december-web-only/russell-moore-iowa-state-capitol-satanic-statue-goat-devil.html

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to jon.brown@christianpost.com

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