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Michael Cassidy, a U.S. Navy veteran and former congressional candidate who identifies as a Christian, is facing charges of a hate crime. This comes after he allegedly dismantled and beheaded a Satanic Temple statue that had been in the Iowa Statehouse rotunda since December. The Satanic Temple’s statue was permitted under rules allowing religious installations for a two-week duration during the holiday season. The Christian Navy veteran said, “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.”
Per information outlined in court records examined by the Des Moines Register, Polk County prosecutors have filed charges against Cassidy for felony third-degree criminal mischief. They assert that Cassidy’s act of beheading the Satanic Temple statue was deemed to be “in violation of individual rights” in accordance with the state’s hate crime laws. Cassidy is set to appear for arraignment on February 15th.
More Charges Were Later Filed
Following the incident, Cassidy initially faced a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal mischief. However, officials cautioned the Navy veteran about the potential for further charges. Subsequently, the charges have been elevated to felony third-degree criminal mischief.
Basis For Hate Crime
The basis for the hate crime charges stems from statements made by Michael Cassidy to law enforcement and the public, as highlighted by Lynn Hicks, a spokesperson for the Polk County Attorney’s Office. Hicks stated, “Evidence shows the defendant made statements indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion.”
In December, Cassidy told The Sentinel that his motive for destroying The Satanic Temple’s display in the Iowa Statehouse was to “awaken Christians to the anti-Christian acts promoted by our government.” He continued, saying, “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.” The statue is of Baphomet—a horned demon adopted for worship by some Satanists—accompanied by a row of lit candles.
Interview With Tucker Carlson
In an interview on X with Tucker Carlson, Cassidy said, “You know, it’s remarkably simple: Satan is evil and … the opposite of good and the enemy of God.” He went on to say, “Liberal mobs have torn down countless statues of Christians in this country. But topple a monument to Satan, and CNN will denounce you as dangerous.”
About Michael Cassidy
Michael Cassidy is a 35-year-old former Navy pilot who was defeated in a Mississippi legislature race last year. He was born in Annapolis, Maryland, and was raised in Arlington, Virginia. He made the decision to enlist in the U.S. military during high school in response to the 9/11 attacks. His motivation stemmed from the tragic loss of the father of one of his classmates during 9/11.
More About Michael Cassidy
Commissioned into the U.S. Navy in 2009, Michael Cassidy moved to Virginia, where he served as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot, completing a tour on the USS George Washington. Subsequently, he dedicated five years to training naval aviators on the T-45 Goshawk, a small jet utilized by the U.S. Navy for carrier landing practice. During the time of the incident, Cassidy served as a civilian T-45 maintenance test pilot and maintained his role as a pilot within the Navy Reserves.
Cassidy Posts Bible Verse
After he beheaded the statue, Cassidy shared a Bible verse on X, formerly Twitter, posting: “1 Peter 5:8 KJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He also thanked people for donating to his legal defense.
Amidst the ongoing legal battle between Cassidy and Polk County prosecutors, Cassidy has garnered substantial support by raising over $98,000 through his GiveSendGo website to address escalating legal expenses. The Des Moines Register reports that nearly 2,000 individuals have contributed financially to Cassidy’s cause.
Popular Conservatives Donate
Significant contributors to Michael Cassidy’s fundraising efforts on the GiveSendGo website included the conservative campaign group Turning Point USA and Matt Walsh, a writer and documentary maker for The Daily Wire. Turning Point USA donated $10,000, while Matt Walsh contributed $1,000.
Cost Of Replacement
Lynn Hicks said that, according to information supplied by The Satanic Temple, the anticipated cost of replacing the Satanic statue vandalized by Cassidy in the Iowa Statehouse rotunda ranges between $750 and $1,500. The temple has submitted a damage estimate, citing a replacement cost of $3,000 for the statue.
The statue attracted a lot of controversy; a Christian group even held a prayer gathering in protest of the Satanic Temple display. The statue also prompted Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to urge Iowa residents to join her in “praying over the Capitol.” She expressed her strong disapproval of the “absolutely objectionable” nature of the displayed installation.
Statue Controversy Sparks Protests Amidst Debates on America’s Christian Heritage
Protests surrounding the statue have intensified, with some individuals citing the foundational principles of the United States as a Christian nation. Those opposing the Satanic Temple display argue that America’s historical roots are deeply intertwined with Christian values, and the presence of a Satanic statue in a public space contradicts these foundational beliefs. Cassidy said, “I grew up in a country that was founded on Christian principles and in [an] America that generally promoted good ethics and public displays of virtue.” Cassidy continued, saying, “The evil display and the lack of action surprised and offended me as a Christian.”
Debates Over Religion, Cultural Identity, and Freedom in America
The controversy over the statue reflects ongoing debates about the role of religion in the public sphere and the interpretation of America’s cultural and historical identity. Supporters of the protests emphasize the need to preserve what they perceive as the nation’s Christian heritage and values. The supporters of the statue appeal to America’s freedom of religion.
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Sam Whisnant is a college student with a talent for writing and a natural curiosity about the world. He combines his academic pursuits with a passion for sharing knowledge in a way that is both informative and engaging to his readers.