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Christian Navy veteran charged with hate crime for beheading demon statue at Iowa Capitol
Image composite: YouTube video, Inside Edition - Screenshots

Christian Navy veteran charged with hate crime for beheading demon statue at Iowa Capitol

Hundreds of statues of historical and religious significance have been toppled throughout the United States in recent years. Rather than stop the iconoclasts responsible, government officials have in many cases rewarded them — at least when they were not themselves directly responsible.

However, it became clear this week that the powers that be still hold some things sacred: abortion clinics and satanic idols.

Within hours of a federal court finding six more pro-life activists guilty of peacefully demonstrating inside an infamous late-term abortion clinic, Christian Navy veteran Michael Cassidy was charged with a hate crime Tuesday for toppling a satanic statute last year at the Iowa Capitol.

The Polk County Attorney's Office indicated that Cassidy's admission that he "destroyed the property because of the victim's religion" prompted the decision to increase Cassidy's previous misdemeanor charge to a class D felony.

What's the background?

The Satanic Temple is an anti-Christian leftist group that has distributed satanic literature to kids; championed the LGBT agenda; worked ardently to ensure that mothers can have their unborn babies legally killed by way of their "religious abortion ritual"; performed public "unbaptisms"; erected multiple statues of demons on public property; and held a demonization ceremony in protest of the canonization of the Catholic Spanish priest Junípero Serra.

Blaze News previously reported that weeks ahead of Christmas, the Satanic Temple installed a demonic altar on the first floor of the Iowa Capitol along with caped figure of what appeared to be a ram-headed Baphomet holding a red pentacle.

Baphomet has long been associated with devil worship and the occult; however, it appears to have originated as a slight against the Muslim faith.

UCLA professor Zrinka Stahuljak indicated "Baphomet" was originally a French corruption of the name Mohamed. British historian Peter Partner suggested further that the Knights Templar, who successfully reclaimed territory previously occupied by Islamic forces, were accused by inquisitors of worshiping Baphomet as part of what appears to have been a 14th-century smear.

Lucien Greaves, the co-founder of the Satanic Temple, claimed the demon statue was not intended to be insulting despite its anti-Islamic significance and the installation's exhibition of the anti-Christian group's " seven fundamental tenets," including "the freedom to offend."

Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) faced significant pressure to have the statue taken down. While Reynolds acknowledged the demonic altar was "objectionable," she invited critics to join her in prayer at the state Capitol rather than in destruction.

State Rep. Jon Dunwell (R), a Christian pastor, outlined why this was the optimal response, noting that the Satanic Temple successfully "petitioned for their display in August and were approved with some modification."

Dunwell said the display "glorifies the evil influence we oppose" but was nevertheless lawful.

Satanic Temple co-founder Greaves stated, "I would hope that even people who disagree with the symbolism behind our values, whether they know what those values [are] or not, would at least appreciate that it's certainly a greater evil to allow the government to pick and choose between forms of religious expression."

Beheading Baphomet

Although a prayerful man, Michael Cassidy of Lauderdale, Mississippi, apparently figured it wouldn't hurt to also smash the demonic display.

After liking a post by Blaze News columnist Auron MacIntyre, which stated, "Periodic reminder that the religious right were correct about everything," Cassidy marched into the Iowa Capitol on Dec. 14, 2023, and decapitated the Baphomet statue.

Adding insult to symbolic injury, he tossed the ram head into a garbage can.

"I saw this blasphemous statue and was outraged. My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted," Cassidy said in an interview with the Sentinel.

Cassidy, a former F/A-18 Hornet pilot who served on the USS George Washington, turned himself in to police following the beheading without incident. He was subsequently charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

"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 told the Sentinel. "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."

The Satanic Temple Iowa said in a statement, "This morning, we were informed by authorities that the Baphomet statue in our holiday display was destroyed beyond repair. ... [J]ustice is being pursued the correct way, through legal means. Solve et Coagula! Happy Holidays! Hail Satan!"

No good deed goes unpunished

The Polk County Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that on the basis of Cassidy's statements both to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property due to its anti-Christian nature — or what prosecutors referred to as "the victim's religion" — they had enhanced his original charge to "third-degree criminal mischief in violation of individual rights, a class D felony, according to Iowa Code Section 729A.2."

The attorney's office indicated that the cost to replace or repair the demonic installation was between $750 and $1,500.

The Des Moines Register indicated the radical group alternatively estimated the cost of replacing the statue was $3,000.

The attorney's office also underscored that prosecutors seek "fair and just resolutions of all cases, as we continue to apply the law equally to all, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, or economic status."

Casidy faces arraignment on Feb. 15. He has raised over $85,700 for his legal defense so far.

The Register noted that the Navy veteran's attorney, Sara Pasquale, declined Tuesday to comment on the new charge.

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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