Christian veteran Michael Cassidy, who beheaded a satanic altar in the Iowa capital over the holidays, has been charged with a hate crime.
The altar to Baphomet was installed by the Satanic Temple, with approval from the Iowa Legislature. It featured a goat’s head on a red-caped mannequin holding a crimson pentagram wreath.
The display caused massive controversy, with some arguing that the approval of the shrine was crucial to religious freedom and others arguing that it was a deliberate move to torment Christians — especially as it was placed near a Nativity scene.
On December 14, Cassidy ripped the head off and threw it in a trashcan.
Cassidy was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, the next day.
Speaking to The Sentinel shortly after the beheading, Cassidy said he had beheaded the statue in order 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.”
BREAKING: @RepubSentinel can reveal that Michael Cassidy, a Christian and former military officer, tore down and beheaded the Satan altar in the Iowa Capitol:https://t.co/rIYIdZOzee pic.twitter.com/tZDsmKM5Pm
— The Sentinel (@RepubSentinel) December 14, 2023
“I saw this blasphemous statue and was outraged,” Cassidy continued. “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”
Cassidy turned himself in to the police after destroying the shrine. The Sentinel reported that the Satanic Temple of Iowa confirmed they intend to press charges.
Polk County prosecutors have added a much more severe charge now, according to a charging document made public Tuesday obtained by the Des Moines Register.
The Register reports that Cassidy is now charged with felony third-degree criminal mischief committed “in violation of individual rights” under Iowa’s hate crime statute.
“Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion,” Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, told the paper.
We have raised the initial $20,000 needed for @VoteCassidy and his legal defense in less than three hours. Thank you for your generosity! We will reopen the campaign if more funds are necessary. https://t.co/FKeNhUXkTQ
— The Sentinel (@RepubSentinel) December 15, 2023
The report added, “Court records show Cassidy is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 15. He has raised more than $84,000 for his legal defense from nearly 2,000 supporters, according to fundraising site GiveSendGo.”
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