Christian veteran Michael Cassidy, who destroyed a satanic altar in the Iowa capital over the holidays, is being charged with a hate crime.
The altar, dedicated to Baphomet, was installed by the Satanic Temple with the approval of the Iowa Legislature. It featured a goat’s head on a red-cloaked mannequin holding a crimson pentagram wreath.
The altar sparked significant controversy, with some arguing that its approval was essential for religious freedom, while others argued that it was a deliberate act to provoke Christians, particularly since it was placed near a Nativity scene.
On December 14, Cassidy beheaded the statue of Baphomet and discarded it in a trashcan. The following day, he was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, classified as a misdemeanor.
This is Michael Cassidy. He is a devout Christian and former military officer.— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) December 14, 2023
Michael just tore down and beheaded the Satan idol that was erected in the Iowa Capitol.
Not all heroes wear capes. pic.twitter.com/8j9z31lxop
Speaking to The Sentinel, Cassidy, who narrowly lost a primary election to U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS) in 2022, stated, “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”
“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.”
Following the destruction of the altar, Cassidy turned himself in to the police. The Sentinel disclosed that the Satanic Temple of Iowa plans to pursue legal action against him.
Per a charging document released on Tuesday and obtained by the Des Moines Register, Polk County prosecutors have upgraded the charges significantly. The Register states that Cassidy is now accused of felony third-degree criminal mischief, categorized as a hate crime under Iowa’s statute, for violating individual rights.
“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.
Sara Pasquale, an attorney representing Cassidy, has accused the Satanic Temple of making premature filings, which “like the timing and substance of the Satanic Temple of Iowa’s installation of a demonic statue in the capitol building… are only meant to evoke strong emotions and incite others.”
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
According to court records, Cassidy is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 15, and has raised more than $84,000 for his legal defense on the fundraising site GiveSendGo.