Michael Cassidy, a Christian and former military officer, beheaded the Satanic Temple statue erected at the Iowa State Capitol, the Sentinel reported Thursday.
The report said Michael Cassidy first pushed the Baphomet statue over before he decapitated it. The statue had been erected in the Iowa State Capitol after the Satanic Temple received permission. The decapitated head was then thrown into the trash.
BREAKING: @RepubSentinel can reveal that Michael Cassidy, a Christian and former military officer, tore down and beheaded the Satan altar in the Iowa Capitol:https://t.co/rIYIdZOzee pic.twitter.com/tZDsmKM5Pm
— The Sentinel (@RepubSentinel) December 14, 2023
Cassidy told the Sentinel that he destroyed the statue 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,” Cassidy 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.”
Police arrested Cassidy after he turned himself in to officers present in the building. The Satanic Temple of Iowa reportedly plans to press charges for fourth-degree criminal mischief.
“I saw this blasphemous statue and was outraged,” Cassidy said. “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”
The display, erected under the guise of religious freedom, sparked significant outrage in the state, with one Iowa lawmaker demanding that Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds remove it at once.
“I am calling for our governor to have this blasphemous display removed immediately based on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and offends God upon whom the State of Iowa depends for blessings,” said Brad Sherman, a Republican from Williamsburg.
“I am calling for clarifying legislation to be adopted in accordance with our State Constitution that prohibits satanic displays in our Capitol building and on all state owned property. I am calling for legislation to be adopted that makes it legal to display the Ten Commandments in our Capitol, in all buildings owned by the state, and in our public schools,” he added.
The display was permitted for just two weeks.
The Satanic Temple bills itself as a non-theistic organization dedicated to reason that uses Satanic imagery while denying the existence of Satan.
“The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits,” the organization said on its website.
The Satanic Temple previously cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to overturn a set of pro-life laws in Missouri, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear it.