Home Christian News Satanic Holiday Display in Iowa Capitol Sparks Religious Liberty Debate

Satanic Holiday Display in Iowa Capitol Sparks Religious Liberty Debate

Satanic temple
Screenshot from X / @jdunwell

In what’s become a regular occurrence, The Satanic Temple has placed a holiday display in a high-profile public location. This time, the group is showcasing a mirror-covered ram’s head on a mannequin dressed in red. It’s on display for two weeks inside the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines.

RELATED: The Satanic Temple Puts Up Holiday Display Next to Nativity, Menorah in Illinois Capitol

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, said the display stands for the group’s right to freedom of religion. “We’re going to really relish the opportunity to be represented in a public forum,” he said. “We don’t have a church on every street corner.”

Iowa Resident: ‘Spiritual Warfare Is Real’

According to its website, The Satanic Temple is a “nontheistic” group that doesn’t believe in a literal Satan, worship Satan, or proselytize. The group sponsors After School Satan Clubs to “focus on free inquiry and rationalism.”

When Iowa resident Shellie Flockhart heard about the display, she organized a prayer group by the Christmas tree inside the capitol. She described the ram display as “a very dark, evil force” and a reminder that “spiritual warfare is real.” Flockhart added, “There are evil, satanic forces that are trying to infiltrate our state.”

For people who oppose his group’s symbols, Greaves offered this suggestion: “If people don’t like our display in public forums, they don’t have to engage with them. They don’t have to view them.”

Iowa State Rep: ‘We Have Nothing To Fear’

Last week, Iowa State Rep. Jon Dunwell made several social media posts about the satanic display, citing constituents’ concerns. The Republican, who before moving to Iowa pastored Christian & Missionary Alliance churches in Florida and Minnesota, wrote from several perspectives.

First, as a state representative, he explained the display process and guidelines, which the Iowa Legislature sets. The Satanic Temple applied for its holiday display back in August and received approval “with some modification,” according to Dunwell. “They wanted to use an actual goat head (I’m assuming a skull).” As a politician, Dunwell said, “I don’t want the state evaluating and making determinations about religions. I am guided by the First Amendment.”

As a follower of Christ, he added, “I certainly find a display from the Satanic Temple objectionable.” While noting he finds it evil and dangerous, he added, “In fairness, many other religions or nonreligious people have the same perspective about Christianity.”

Dunwell reminded citizens, “The display is an inanimate object that has no real power in and of itself. We have nothing to fear.” As a Christian, he said, he’s opposed to the display’s message and plans to respond primarily through prayer. “The display itself is an invitation of the work we have yet to do,” he wrote. “Iowa needs Jesus.”

Dunwell also pledged to keep talking with constituents and other state officials. He indicated he wouldn’t “mix the kingdoms,” because “government is a poor arbitrator of religion.”