The Iowa Satan Tea Party

By John Zmirak Published on December 18, 2023

Fans of American history will have marked an important anniversary. Two hundred and fifty years ago last week, American Patriots barged into a shrine to Satan near the Boston harbor and threw the goat-shaped idol into the harbor. The Stream ran a piece by historian Gary Smith on this famous incident just a few days ago. The Boston Satanic Idol Party provoked sharp repression by the British Parliament, whose fierce acts of retribution helped goad fence-sitting colonists into supporting American independence.

Okay, I was kidding a little. The Boston Patriots in fact dumped British-owned tea into the harbor, to protest a British-taxed monopoly granted by the Crown to the wicked, slave-driving British East India Company over the 13 colonies. That tax, if colonists had complied with it, would have established a legal precedent for Britain to directly tax Americans without representation. Had the Brits instead been displaying a statue of Satan, modern-day Christians such as Jenna Ellis would condemn the colonists for plunging it into the water.

Here’s what really happened, according to the Republic-Sentinel:

Michael Cassidy, a Christian and former military officer, tore down and beheaded a Satanist altar erected in the Iowa Capitol as the display provoked nationwide controversy, The Sentinel has exclusively learned.

Members of the Satanic Temple of Iowa recently received permission to install the exhibit, which included a statue depicting the idol Baphomet holding a pentacle and surrounded by candles, on the first floor of the Iowa Capitol near displays of the Nativity. Cassidy pushed over and decapitated the statue before he discarded the head in a trash can.

Attorney Jenna Ellis was last seen impersonating Christine Blasey Ford, going over and above the terms of her plea deal with Georgia to throw Donald Trump and his team under a prison bus, then backing the bus over them just to be on the safe side.

Defending the Satan Statue

Now Ellis is joining the leftist mob that’s pillorying Cassidy. As part of a long warning about the danger of “Christian Nationalism” (which a few months ago she endorsed) Ellis told Newsweek:

As a Christian, I hate the statue that was placed in the Iowa Capitol. But I also recognize that in a well-ordered society, the state can and must punish individuals like [former congressional candidate who vandalized the Satanic Temple display] Michael Cassidy or BLM (Black Lives Matter) rioters, who destroy property of others—whether statues, storefronts, or other property. No person is justified in destruction of others’ property to advance their ideology. Our nation is founded on liberty and justice for all.

In Twitter (X) posts, Ellis also claimed that the Satanic display on government property was protected by the First Amendment free exercise of religion.

Where to even begin here?

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Private Property Is Not a Golden Calf

First of all, while private property is a real and critical right — I explained here why property owners are right to use deadly force to protect it from looters — it’s by no means an absolute right. Otherwise the government using “eminent domain” to arrogate it, or the tax code to redistribute it, would be intrinsically evil. We’d have to say that laws prohibiting racial discrimination in housing were evil, since they attacked the private property rights of homeowners. And the idea that Christians should obey every law, however unjust? That’s what the enemies of the Civil Rights Movement argued, which occasioned Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Among the American founders, a few of them were actually kind of squeamish about the Boston Tea Party, as Gary Smith documented, since part of their quarrel with Britain was its attack on colonists’ property rights. But overwhelmingly, Americans rallied behind the Boston Tea Party as a gesture of resistance against an increasingly repressive state, which had overturned the rules of how the colonies got governed. And that’s the key to understanding how we should evaluate this attack on the Satan statue.

Our Rulers Have Changed the Rules on Us

For centuries, the American colonies had been allowed to govern and tax themselves, within quite broad parameters. Even in states with appointed royal governors, the local legislators were in charge of taxing and spending. But British leaders who’d spent a fortune winning the French and Indian War (which ended in 1763) decided to overturn that arrangement. They wanted the power to tax the colonists, without their consent. Some wanted to appoint bishops from England to lead the Anglican church. The Quebec Act granted state recognition to the (much-feared) Catholic church. And British royal governors in places like Massachusetts were all for using military repression to enforce these new, alien policies.

And Americans were willing to start a world war over that — which the American Revolution indeed became, when France and Spain joined in the war against Great Britain. Our ancestors weren’t going to sit still for a bait and switch that would see the Colonies subjugated and plundered — as the British East India Company was already doing to India.

What About a Hitler Statue in the Capitol?

Scholar Mark David Hall has documented in detail that the U.S. was not founded by Deists, or set up as a secular, irreligious regime — like the French Republic in 1789 or the Soviet Union in 1917. Instead, it was founded as a de facto Christian, Protestant country with no established federal church, and the free exercise of religion. That’s a quite different thing from an officially secular state, which regards all religions with equal suspicion. Hall quotes one Founder after another warning that the “virtues” instilled by “religion” were crucial to the survival of liberty.

They might not have been thinking of Hinduism or Islam, but they didn’t specifically exclude those non-Christian faiths. They certainly did not mean to include as part of the crucial fabric of civic virtue secular hate groups that were founded merely to mock existing religions. And that is what the Temple of Satan claims to be — a pressure group aimed at countering Christianity. It even claims that abortions are part of its sacred rituals.

Should the Iowa State Capitol accommodate a giant Hitler statue if asked by the Worldwide Church of the Creator? What if the Klan declared itself a church, and wanted a burning cross?

It’s as if some alt-right pranksters created the Church of Adolf Hitler … but wait, I don’t need to invent a hypothetical. They already did something like that. In the 2000s, a white supremacist set up the Worldwide Church of the Creator, and claimed for it the legal privileges of any other church. The problem is, the organization was atheist, and by “Creator” it meant … white people, whom it credited with creating everything worthwhile worldwide. Should the Iowa State Capitol accommodate a giant Hitler statue if asked by the Worldwide Church of the Creator? What if the Klan declared itself a church, and wanted a burning cross?

The secularists among us have changed the rules, as the British government did. What’s more they don’t even respect the rules — attacking public statues whenever it suits them, confident that they can act above the law. The left is now acting like a boxer in a ring who whips out a switchblade and puts on brass knuckles. If we keep fighting by the Marquess of Queensbury rules, does that somehow keep us “pure”? Or does it just mark us as reckless, gullible fools who don’t really care what happens to our neighbors and our descendants, as long as we can keep our soft, uncalloused hands clean?


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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