(RightWing.org) – A Christian man who demolished a statue of Satan has been charged with a hate crime. Iowa prosecutors say former Navy man Michael Cassidy violated the religious rights of the Satanic Temple, a left-wing activist group that uses Satanic imagery to push its “progressive” agenda. Now he’s facing felony charges.
Last December, the Satanic Temple of Iowa asked for, and got, permission to install a “religious display” alongside traditional Nativity displays inside the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. The controversial group is well known for publicity stunts involving Satanic imagery, although the actual Church of Satan dismisses them as a political organization with no connection to organized religion. In Iowa they installed an effigy of the occult figure Baphomet, holding a pentagram symbol and surrounded by candles.
The sight of the blasphemous figure was too much for former US Navy fighter pilot Michael Cassidy; when he saw the statue on December 14 he was outraged and showed his displeasure by knocking it over, decapitating it, and disposing of its grotesque horned head in the trash. Cassidy was arrested near the scene and charged with a misdemeanor, fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Now, however, Polk County prosecutors have upped the ante. They’ve decided that because of the alleged value of the statue, he should be charged with third-degreecriminal mischief — and because Cassidy cited objections to Satanism when he was arrested, that makes his actions an attack on The Satanic Temple’s religious rights. Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Lynn Hicks says the invocation of Iowa’s hate crimes statute means the offense has now been elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Misdemeanor third-degree criminal mischief carries a penalty of up to two years in jail; as a felony, the maximum sentence jumps to five years and a fine of up to $10,245. So far a GoFundMe for Cassidy’s legal defense has raised almost $90,000.