Satanic Nationalism in Iowa?
“Would you rather have Satanic Nationalism or Christian Nationalism?”
That’s the question posed this week by Sean Feucht, the musical Forrest Gump of Christian Nationalism. But while he pushes Christian Nationalism at state Capitols across the country, he’s now worried about competition.
Last week, the Satanic Temple installed a goat-headed robed creature behind an altar inside the Iowa Capitol after going through the normal application process for setting up temporary holiday displays — which is why there’s also a Christian nativity scene inside the Capitol right now. But the inclusion of the Satanic altar quickly sparked condemnation from Feucht and other Christians who don’t believe the group should’ve been allowed to erect its display.
Recalling his concert at the Iowa Capitol in August as part of his tour of all 50 Capitols this year and next ahead of the 2024 elections, Feucht contrasted that with the Satanic altar. He argued, “This is a spiritual battle for the soul of the nation in 2024. Will you join the fight?” He then asked for money to help him fight that battle.
Feucht’s not alone. Christian activists in the state have been pushing for its removal and holding prayer rallies inside the Capitol at a Christmas tree and a nativity display. Additionally, GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis told CNN Tuesday (Dec. 12) he thinks Iowa should remove it even if it means the state will get sued (as it would).
“I think you fight that fight,” DeSantis said.
He even tried to blame his main rival, former President Donald Trump, for the display since the Satanic Temple received its IRS designation as a tax-exempt church during the Trump presidency. That move gives them greater legal standing for things like the Capitol display. But DeSantis argued the government should not give the group the same legal or tax rights as other religious organizations.
“They recognized it as a religion. … I don’t think that was the right decision,” he argued. “My view would be that that’s not a religion that the founding fathers were trying to create.”
What Feucht and DeSantis are calling for is explicit discrimination against some people from a public space because of their religious beliefs. And DeSantis even invoked the founding fathers while taking this position that runs counter to constitutional protections for religious freedom. So this issue of A Public Witness treks to the Hawkeye State to consider the stunt by the Satanic Temple and what options are available beyond endorsing Christian Nationalism (or Satanic Nationalism).
When it comes to the Satanic Temple, it’s perhaps best to start with what the group is not about: they don’t actually worship Satan. In fact, the members generally don’t even believe in supernatural beings at all (be that the devil, God, or gods).