(Des Moines Register) — A Mississippi man who admitted to destroying a statue of the pagan idol Baphomet at the Iowa Capitol has been charged with a hate crime.
The statue was part of a display organized by the Satanic Temple of Iowa under state rules allowing religious displays in the Iowa Capitol during the holidays. The installation drew strong criticism from state and national leaders, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis. On Dec. 14, the centerpiece of the display, a figure depicting the horned deity Baphomet, was “destroyed beyond repair,” according to the Satanic Temple of Iowa.
Michael Cassidy, a former congressional candidate from Mississippi, was charged the following day with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. The Lauderdale, Mississippi, man told the conservative website The Sentinel that “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”