Ron DeSantis Sides With Man Who Destroyed Satanic Temple Statue At Iowa State Capitol

“Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government,” the Florida governor wrote on X.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) jumped to the defense of a former Mississippi congressional candidate charged with vandalizing a controversial satanic display put up at Iowa’s state Capitol building.

“Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government,” DeSantis wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday. “Good prevails over evil — that’s the American spirit.”

The Satanic Temple received permission earlier this month to set up a shrine on the first floor of the Iowa State Capitol for two weeks. According to the Des Moines Register, such statues are permitted under state rules governing religious displays in the building.

The shrine included an altar with the temple’s “seven fundamental tenets” and its seal surrounded by electric candles, along with a statue depicting the goat-headed pagan idol Baphomet.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Satanic Temple wrote that the statue was “destroyed beyond repair” and showed the damages in a video.

Michael Cassidy, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and former Mississippi House candidate, was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief for the statue vandalism, the Des Moines Register reported. On his campaign website, Cassidy describes himself as “a Christian conservative who loves our nation and is committed to preserving the blessings of liberty bestowed upon us by the Founding generation.”

Cassidy told The Sentinel that he destroyed the statue to “awaken Christians to the anti-Christian acts promoted by our government.”

“I saw this blasphemous statue and was outraged,” he said. “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”

If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $2,560 fine, the Des Moines Register reported. Several groups, such as Turning Point USA, jumped to Cassidy’s defense by donating to a crowdfunding campaign created by The Sentinel to pay for his legal funds. The campaign has surpassed its goal of $20,000.

DeSantis condemned the statue and backed up Cassidy, even vowing to chip in to pay his legal fees.

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of the Satanic Temple, had told the Des Moines Register earlier this week that the intention behind the display was to give other religions more representation in public forums rather than to offend Christians. He later condemned the vandalism and called it a “hate crime” on his social media.

As the satanic display made national news, it quickly became the center of a free speech debate as mixed reactions and criticisms poured in from lawmakers in Iowa and across the country.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) described the display in a press release as “objectionable” but maintained that “In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech.”

Rep. Jon Dunwell (R-Iowa) echoed similar comments in a lengthy statement on X, saying that as “a follower of Christ,” he found the display was “objectionable” but that the application process for state Capitol displays (which are open to anyone) “do not discriminate on the basis of religion or ideology.”

Other lawmakers were adamantly against the display and called for its removal.

Iowa state Rep. Brad Sherman (R) wrote a letter last week asserting that the “disgusting display” violates the state’s Constitution.

During a CNN town hall on Tuesday, DeSantis criticized former President Donald Trump’s handling of the Satanic Temple and blamed him for a rule that gave the group religious tax-exempt status in 2019.

“It very well may be because of that ruling under Donald Trump that they may have had a legal leg to stand on,” he said. “My view would be that’s not a religion that the Founding Fathers were trying to create.”

When asked about DeSantis’ comments on Thursday, Greaves told CNN that the Florida governor’s words were a “display of cowardice from a politician who wants to play ignorant.”

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