Hate Crime: Christian Navy Veteran Charged for Tearing Down Satan Statue in Iowa Capitol

A Christian U.S. Navy veteran has been charged with a hate crime after admitting to beheading the Satanic Temple’s statue on display at the Iowa State Capitol in December.

Michael Cassidy was initially charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief on December 15, but the Polk County Attorney’s Office indicated that the Mississippi man’s admission that he “destroyed the property because of the victim’s [the Satanic Temple] religion” prompted the charges to be upgraded to “third-degree criminal mischief in violation of individual rights, a class D felony.”

The cost to repair or replace the damaged Satan statue would be between $750 and $1,500, prosecutors said.

“The Polk County Attorney’s Office seeks 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,” officials added.

The retired military officer originally made headlines after tearing down and removing the head from the statue. 

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

“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 said. “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.”

Michael Cassidy (votecassidy.com)

Police arrested Cassidy after he turned himself in to officers present in the building.

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

Cassidy is set to be arraigned on February 15.

The statue was on public display in the Iowa Capitol building, about 100 feet from a Christmas tree, according to KCCI.

“It was permitted by rules that govern religious installations inside the Capitol,” the outlet reported.

Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves said at the time that the statue was a symbol for religious freedom.

“We’re going to really relish the opportunity to be represented in a public forum. We don’t have a church on every street corner,” Greaves said. “My feeling is if people don’t like our display in public forums, they don’t have to engage with them. They don’t have to view them.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) came under fire for allowing such a statue in the state’s legislative building, though she responded by calling the display “absolutely objectionable.”

“Like many Iowans, I find the Satanic Temple’s display in the Capitol absolutely objectionable,” Reynolds said in a statement. “In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech, and I encourage all those of faith to join me today in praying over the Capitol and recognizing the nativity scene that will be on display – the true reason for the season.”


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