A statue of Baphomet on display in the Iowa Capitol was recently destroyed following weeks of controversy.
The display was scheduled to be shown for the weeks leading up to Christmas in the Iowa state house, alongside other religious holiday decorations like a nativity scene and a Menorah.
It soon became a lightning rod for criticism, largely from Christians, who view it as offensive to include a Satanic display near other religious symbols in an official state building. Nevertheless, it was allowed on religious freedom grounds.
Now, some Christians are rallying behind the man who "slayed" Satan, and donating to cover his legal fund, even as debate rages on over the display’s legality – and the morality of destroying it.
35-year-old Michael Cassidy, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, has admitted to destroying the display.
Cassidy reportedly tore Baphomet’s head right off his body and threw it in a trash can. “It was extremely anti-Christian,” he explained after the incident.
“This was certainly a spur of the moment kind of thing,” Cassidy later explained during an interview on cable news. “I saw that this was going on, I was surprised that the legislature allowed it up and that they didn’t do anything to take it down.”
“It offended me, it touched a nerve… I call it Christian civil disobedience,” said Cassidy.
The Man Who Slew Satan
Cassidy, who was recently defeated in a Mississippi congressional race, was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief.
An archived version of Cassidy’s initial campaign platform ironically called for an “automatic 10 years in jail” for anyone who destroyed statues.
Luckily for Cassidy, Iowa isn’t so strict. He faces up to a year in prison if convicted, but has raised $75,000 and counting in legal defense funds. His lawyer has described the case as a fight of “good against evil,” and his fundraising page presents it as such.
“[Cassidy] was not willing to see God reviled, especially in a building where lawmakers are supposed to honor Jesus Christ as King and look to his law for wisdom as they legislate with justice and righteousness,” reads the fundraising page.
Freedom To Be Offended
The now-destroyed display was initially erected by The Satanic Temple, a group which you know remember from the highly-fraught after school Satan Club.
By putting up Satanic displays in public areas where Christian ones are also permitted, the group says they are “[fighting] against tyrannical authority, ensuring that Satanic voices are included in our nation’s religious discourse."
Debate remains, even amongst Christians, on whether Cassidy did the right thing. Before it was destroyed, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said that she found the display objectionable, but stopped short of calling for its removal.
"In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech,” she stated, calling for Iowa Christians to pray over the Capitol.
Rep. Jon Dunwell cosigned that statement. "I don't want the state evaluating and making determinations about religions. I am guided by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," he said.
But for Cassidy, freedom of speech and freedom of religion apparently stop short at Satanism. As he posted on X, “my deepest hope is that Americans of all political persuasions can unite and agree that: 1. Jesus Christ is Lord, 2. Satan is evil.”
What do you make of the Satan statue and its destruction? Should all faiths be allowed equal rights to holiday displays on public property?