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A “Hate Crime” in Iowa and the Bizarre New Test for Religious Liberty


This case is one more clear indication that when post-Eisenhower, state-run secularism stands in judgment of all religions, it will favor any religion that undermines its chief rival, even favoring Satanism over the longstanding and Constitutionally recognized beliefs of the Christian faith.

Another day, another headline that reads like it’s been ripped right out of Orwell’s 1984 and a reminder of what Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., founder of Liberty University, preached in 1976, “The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the devil to prevent Christians from running their own country.” The state of religious liberty in today’s naked public square is a direct consequence of the unwillingness to heed that warning.

Earlier this week, news broke that Michael Cassidy, the Christian and Navy veteran who destroyed the Satanic idol being displayed at the Iowa State Capitol over the Christmas season, has been charged with a “hate crime.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Cassidy was initially charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. In response to this, Cassidy boldly stated, “My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted.”

But now the same newspaper is reporting that “Polk County prosecutors have accused Cassidy of a more serious offense. A charging document made public Tuesday charges him with felony third-degree criminal mischief and notes that the act was committed ‘in violation of individual rights’ under Iowa’s hate crime statute.”

Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, claims that “Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion.”

Keep in mind that the “victim” here is none other than the Satanic Temple of Iowa, which is part of a national atheist group that mocks Christianity and wants to push all Christian practice and expression out of the public square.

The fact that the Polk County prosecutors would turn Cassidy’s actions into a “hate crime” is a chilling reminder of the growing hostility towards Christians in America.

The problem today is that most Americans, including most educated Christians, do not understand that religious liberty protections were never blanket protections afforded all religions, especially those that promote blasphemy. When one understands the original intent and purpose of the First Amendment and the Christian foundation that America was built on, it’s clear that Satanism is not deserving of the protections afforded by the First Amendment. The Constitution was designed to protect religious freedom for those who seek to worship the one true God, not to elevate a sinister and destructive force such as Satanism.

Blasphemy laws relating to the Christian faith and public decency were prevalent at America’s founding and throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was not fully challenged until the Eisenhower era. In a cursory review of Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson (1952), the Supreme Court overturned New York state’s blasphemy laws that would restrain the production of cinematic art for motion pictures. But this ruling did not overturn blasphemy laws all throughout the United States; in fact, in the case of State v. Stoltenberg (1974), the Supreme Court of Iowa fined an individual for using blasphemous language in the public square. There are still five states that have blasphemy laws: Michigan, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and South Carolina.

While there is not sufficient case law that directly challenges the claims of Satanism as a recognized religion, it is abundantly clear that in the originalist intent of the Constitution, Satanism does not deserve recognition. The Supreme Court already ruled in Holy Trinity v. United States (1892) that America is a Christian nation. Even the Harvard Review has written,

“The blackletter rule was clear. Constitutional liberty entailed the right to articulate views on religion, but not the right to commit blasphemy—the offense of ‘maliciously reviling God,’ which encompassed ‘profane ridicule of Christ.’”

The fact that the Satanic display was granted a place at the Iowa Capitol in the first place is an affront to our historical understanding of Constitutional freedom and Christian principles and a testament to the moral insanity that has permeated our society. What Cassidy did, by destroying the Satanic display, was to act in the tradition of brave and virtuous Christian heroes like Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Harriet Tubman. Like those before him, Cassidy took a courageous and open stand against the encroachment of evil in our midst, a defiant gesture that affirmed the sacredness of our Christian faith.

It is, quite frankly, ridiculous that the authorities have chosen to label this as a “hate crime,” as if Cassidy’s actions were motivated by prejudice and intolerance. The display itself could equally be deemed a hate crime against a well-established and legally recognized Christian faith in the public square. That argument is much stronger.

While Carpenter v. Wilkinson (1996) ruled on the issue of Satanism in a lower district court, there are not many cases that have determined this issue directly. Satanism is not — or at least should not be — a “protected class” in America. That has never been established. For a Christian, we must recognize that it’s good to love that which is good and hate that which is evil, set against God Himself.

Therefore, it’s good to hate Satan and Satanism. Romans 12:9 teaches that there is no moral equivalency between light and darkness. It reads, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

So yes, we should hate Satan and Satanic statutes. But no, destroying them is not a “hate crime.”

The charge against Cassidy is not only unjust, but it also reeks of hypocrisy. Attacks on Christian churches are numerous and ongoing. A report published by the Family Research Council, titled “Hostility Against Churches Is on the Rise in the United States,” found that there were 420 acts of hostility against 397 churches between January 2018 and September 2022. And in the wake of the leak of the Dobbs decision that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, numerous Christian churches across numerous states have been vandalized and desecrated. There have been 225 attacks on Catholic churches alone since then, and FRC put out a supplemental report last spring showing that 69 churches were attacked in the first quarter of 2023, including 10 arson attacks and additional arson attempts, three gun-related incidents, and three bomb threats.

Now, some of these incidents have resulted in “hate crime” charges, such as in the case of a church arsonist in Colorado. But most of them — all far more serious incidents than Cassidy knocking over a homemade statue — have not.

The double standard in the contemporary picture is glaring, and it highlights the blatant favoritism towards Satanism and other non-Christian religions in our society. But this only demonstrates the bias of secularism favoring any religion that would be an ideological rival to a totalitarian state.

To charge Cassidy with a hate crime is an obvious act of political retribution and discrimination against Christians. It is a clear indication that the woke regime favors Satanism over our deeply held beliefs, and it is a chilling reminder of the precarious position in which we find ourselves, untethered from our national history, as we fight to preserve our faith and our nation for the future.

As Bible-believing Christians, we must stand firm in the face of such adversity. We must not allow ourselves to be cowed by the forces of darkness and the agents of secularism who seek to undermine our values. We must continue to fight for our right to worship God freely, and we must demand that our elected representatives protect our religious liberties.

In conclusion, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Let us stand united against the forces of Satanism and secularism, and let us pray for the strength and courage to face whatever challenges may come our way.

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