Satan statue surrounded by christmas gifts

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‘What a pathetic excuse of a Christian’: State representative—who is also a pastor—roasted for defending Satanic display at Iowa Capitol

'The display is an inanimate object that has no real power.'


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Dec 13, 2023   Updated on Dec 14, 2023, 7:13 am CST

Prominent conservative Christians are demanding the removal of a Satanic display in Iowa’s Capitol building, despite their oft-professed support for free speech.

The display was placed on the first floor of the Capitol in Des Moines last week by a group calling itself the Satanic Temple of Iowa. Satanic groups across the country have taken similar actions over the years in response to overtly Christian displays on government property.

Shortly after the appearance of the display, which was put up with government approval, Rep. Brad Sherman (R-Iowa) not only called for its removal, but “for clarifying legislation to be adopted in accordance with our State Constitution that prohibits satanic displays in our Capitol building and on all state owned property.”

Sherman has even proposed additional legislation that would require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all state buildings and public schools, as noted by the Des Moines Register.

Popular right-wing Christians, many of whom champion themselves as free speech absolutists, appear to agree.

Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec has called on his more than 2.3 million X followers to “conduct the largest call-in campaign in Iowa history” in order to get the display removed.

“Tomorrow, we will conduct the largest call-in campaign in Iowa history,” he wrote. “State Representatives. State Senators. And the Governor herself. We will call on lawmakers to have the Satanic ritual altar removed.”

Posobiec and others have also blamed Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) for allowing the display to stand, despite her lack of legal authority to have the so-called altar removed.

In a press release on the matter, Reynolds stated that although she found the display objectionable, “the best response to objectionable speech is more speech.”

“I encourage all those of faith to join me today in praying over the Capitol and recognizing the Nativity scene that will be on display—the true reason for the season,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, Reynold’s principled response has only stirred further anger on the right. Numerous Republican lawmakers who released similar statements in defense of religious liberties, including Rep. John Dunwell (R-Iowa), were also attacked. 

Dunwell is a representative as well as a pastor and told people “the display is an inanimate object that has no real power in and of itself. We have nothing to fear.”

“What a pathetic excuse of a Christian,” wrote one.

So, just to be clear… your position is: Constitution > Bible? Ok,” said another.

“This dude is getting crucified in the reply’s by his own fellow Christians for not being intolerant enough & corrupting his position as a public official because of it,” one user on X said. “Hilarious. Satanic Temple’s way up on the scoreboard.”

The situation took another bizarre turn after GOP presidential hopeful Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) blamed former President Donald Trump on Tuesday for the display.

During a CNN town hall, DeSantis noted that the IRS approved the Satanic Temple’s request for faith-based grants and tax-exempt status under Trump.

Posobiec and others, all fervent supporters of Trump, have attempted to downplay the Trump’s role.

Whether Posobiec’s campaign to have the display removed is successful remains to be seen. But the backlash appears to highlight how many of those who claim to support free speech only do so when it’s speech they agree with.

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*First Published: Dec 13, 2023, 11:03 am CST