GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said that the Satanic Temple ‘should not be recognized’ as a religion by the U.S. government.
DeSantis made the declaration on X Friday morning, saying that satanism does not have a place in American society.
The Florida governor’s tweet came after Mississippi state House candidate Michael Cassidy admitted to tearing down the Satanic Temple’s display in the Iowa state capitol. Cassidy was arrested Friday and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, KCCI reported.
‘Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government,’ DeSantis tweeted. ‘I’ll chip in to contribute to this veteran’s legal defense fund.’
‘Good prevails over evil — that’s the American spirit,’ DeSantis continued.
DeSantis also addressed the Satanic Temple display at the Iowa state capitol during a recent CNN town hall event, pointing to former President Trump’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as to why the non-theistic religious organization is recognized as a religion.
In 2019, the IRS recognized the Satanic Temple as an official house of worship, granting the entity both tax-exempt status and protections under the First Amendment.
‘So it’s interesting, I heard this, and then I was like, ‘Well, how did it get there? Is that even a religion?’’ DeSantis said. ‘And low and behold, the Trump administration gave them approval to be under the IRS as a religion.’
‘So that gave them the legal ability to potentially do it,’ DeSantis said.
DeSantis said that ‘it very well may be because of that ruling’ under Trump that the Satanic Temple ‘may have had a legal leg to stand on.’
‘My view would be that that’s not a religion that the Founding Fathers were trying to create,’ DeSantis said. ‘But I do think that IRS ruling, I was really surprised to see that they did that.’
Jake Tapper noted that the IRS granting tax-exempt status does not necessarily mean the government supports satanism.
‘No, yeah, exactly,’ DeSantis responded. ‘But they recognized it as a religion, because otherwise you wouldn’t’ve been able to do it.’
‘I don’t think that was the right decision. Even as a religion, that’s wrong,’ he continued.
Lucien Greaves, one of the Satanic Temple’s founders, told Fox News Digital that ‘DeSantis’s remarks are raw cowardice dressed up in false heroism.’
‘He would like voters to believe that he is standing up against the Satanic Temple, but he is, in actuality, simply yielding to an angry, undemocratic mob that would rather see the fundamental pillars of democracy destroyed than suffer the nuisance of seeing a viewpoint they disagree with in a public forum,’ Greaves said.
‘It is cowardice that compels him to abandon his pledge of office to uphold constitutional law and religious liberty because he can not, or will not, articulate those ideals to voters, opting instead to appeal to their most base fears and ignorance,’ he continued.
‘I have announced that I am happy to debate DeSantis on these points at any time, but I suspect he is too cowardly for that as well,’ Greaves 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 tenets’ that emphasize science and reason, and uses Satanic imagery to push their tenets and political goals, like abortion access and addressing ‘religious privilege.’
The organization has also been known to jab at Christians, and Greaves has openly stated that the group is ‘openly atheist,’ in a 2015 Salon interview.
‘Those who dislike us claim that we are not really a religion, but by what standard?’ Greaves said. ‘These things beg for definition. In the Hobby Lobby case, there was no sincerity test at all, and no test that their exemption had some kind of spiritual basis.’
‘In regard to our atheism, if you have a society that grants religious privilege and exemption, and you’re willing to give privilege and exemption to certain groups, then it’s unacceptable to give that only to people who believe in the supernatural,’ Greaves said.
‘We are openly atheist, but we have cultural identity and symbolic constructs that are deeply meaningful to our members,’ he continued.
In a text message to Fox News Digital, Cassidy confirmed that he had torn down the satanic display, which was erected last week by the Satanic Temple of Iowa to represent the group’s right to religious freedom.
‘It was extremely anti-Christian,’ Cassidy told Fox News Digital when asked why he had torn the statue down.
The former congressional candidate didn’t elaborate on why he had torn the statue down, but he posted a Bible verse Thursday night to X after being charged.
‘1 Peter 5:8 KJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,’ he posted.
Fox News Digital’s Adam Sabes contributed reporting.