The Satanic Temple has staged a number of provocative stunts across the United States in recent years as part of an ostensible effort to promote equal religious representation in public places.
When a statue of Satan was erected at the Iowa statehouse in December, the display sparked widespread backlash, but Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves denied that it was an effort to “insult Christians,” adding: “And I would hope that even people who disagree with the symbolism behind our values … would at least appreciate that it’s certainly a greater evil to allow the government to pick and choose between forms of religious expression.”
Nevertheless, the monument drew swift statements of denunciation from Iowa state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. The statue was soon vandalized by a Mississippi military veteran who removed its head.
While his actions were celebrated by a number of prominent figures who opposed the statue, Michael Cassidy was arrested on suspicion of fourth-degree criminal mischief, which was later enhanced to a hate crime that could result in a prison sentence of five years and a fine of $7,500 if he is convicted.
Cassidy has been open with his thoughts on the matter, including in a statement shortly after the statue was toppled.
“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 declared. “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.”
A host of social media posts highlighted the perceived hypocrisy on display by pursuing such serious charges against Cassidy while essentially ignoring the acts of vandalism that have plagued much of the country at the hands of leftist activists in recent years.
Violent activists tore down dozens of statues including Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. None were held accountable or charged with a hate crime.
Michael Cassidy knocks over a Satan statue made out of household items and gets charged with a hate crime.
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) January 31, 2024
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was campaigning in the GOP presidential primary race at the time, weighed in on the story, even offering to contribute to Cassidy’s defense fund.
“Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government,” he wrote.