GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said the Satanic Temple “should not be recognized” as a religion by the United States government.
DeSantis made the statement on Friday morning, saying Satanism has no place in American society.
The Florida governor’s tweet came after Michael Cassidy, the Mississippi House candidate, admitted to tearing down the Satanic Temple display in the Iowa State Capitol. Cassidy was arrested Friday and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, KCCI reported.
A satanic display inside the Iowa State Capitol was destroyed, and a man was charged: officials
“Satan has no place in our society and the federal government should not recognize him as a religion,” DeSantis said on Twitter. “I will participate to contribute to this veteran’s legal defense fund.”
“Good triumphs over evil,” DeSantis continued. “This is the American spirit.”
DeSantis also spoke about the Satanic Temple’s display at the Iowa State Capitol during a recent CNN event, citing former President Trump’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as to why the non-theistic religious organization should be recognized as a religion.
In 2019, the IRS recognized The Satanic Temple as an official house of worship, granting the entity tax-exempt status and First Amendment protections.
“So it’s interesting, I heard this, and then I said, ‘Well, how did it get there? Is this even a religion?'” DeSantis said. “And here the Trump administration gave them approval to be under the IRS as a debt.”
“This gave them the legal ability to do that,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said it “may be because of this ruling” under Trump that the Satanic Temple “may have had a legal leg to stand on.”
“My view is that this is not the religion that the Founding Fathers were trying to create,” DeSantis said. “But I think the IRS ruling, I was really surprised to see that they did that.”
Jake Tapper pointed out that granting the IRS tax-exempt status does not necessarily mean that the government supports Satanism.
“No, yes, exactly,” DeSantis replied. “But they recognized it as a religion, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
He continued: “I don’t think this was the right decision. Even for religion, this is wrong.”
“DeSantis’ statements are vulgar cowardice dressed in false heroism,” Lucien Graves, a co-founder of The Satanic Temple, told Fox News Digital.
“He would like voters to believe he is standing against the Satanic Temple, but in reality he is simply capitulating to an angry, undemocratic mob that would rather see the basic pillars of democracy destroyed than suffer the inconvenience of seeing a particular point of view.” “They disagree with them in a public forum,” Graves said.
He continued: “It is cowardice that forces him to abandon his pledge of office to uphold constitutional law and religious liberty because he cannot, or does not want to, articulate these ideals to voters, choosing instead to appeal to their most base fears and ignorance.” .
“I’ve declared that I’m happy to debate DeSantis on these points at any time, but I think he’s too cowardly for that, too,” Graves added.
The Satanic Temple was founded in 2013 and does not express belief in Satan, God, or any higher power.
Instead, the atheist organization follows “seven principles” that emphasize science and reason, and uses Satanic imagery to advance its political principles and goals, such as access to abortion and addressing “religious privilege.”
The organization is also known to attack Christians, and Graves openly stated that the group is “openly atheist”, in a 2015 Salon interview.
“Those who hate us claim that we are not really a religion, but by what standard?” Graves said. “These things need to be defined. In the Hobby Lobby case, there was no truthfulness test at all, and there was no test that their exemption had some kind of spiritual basis.”
“With regard to our atheism, if you have a society that grants religious privileges and exemptions, and you are willing to grant privileges and exemptions to certain groups, then it is not acceptable to grant that only to people who believe in the supernatural.” He said.
He continued: “We are openly atheist, but we have a cultural identity and symbolic structures that are deeply meaningful to our members.”
In a text message to Fox News Digital, Cassidy confirmed that he had demolished the satanic display, which the Satanic Temple set up in Iowa last week to represent the group’s right to religious freedom.
“It was very anti-Christian,” Cassidy told Fox News Digital when asked why the statue was torn down.
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The former congressional candidate did not explain why he tore down the statue, but he posted a Bible verse Thursday night on X after he was charged.
“1 Peter 5:8 Be sober and watch, for your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Fox News Digital’s Adam Sipes contributed reporting.