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Pastor and Iowa State Rep. Jon Dunwell Fields Accusations He Is a ‘Heretic’ for Defending Religious Rights of The Satanic Temple

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L: Iowa General Assembly, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons. R: Screenshot from X / @jdunwell

Iowa State Rep. Jon Dunwell, who is the pastor of a church in Monroe, remains adamant in defending the religious rights of The Satanic Temple (TST) to have a holiday display in the rotunda of the State Capitol building. 

Dunwell, whose profile on X (formerly Twitter) states he is an ordained pastor in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA), says that he is a “Bible-believing” pastor who upholds the freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s really not that radical,” Dunwell said in a post on Dec. 10. “I don’t want the government dictating, approving, or regulating religious expression. I would rather have an evil blasphemous display, or no display at all, than have the state dictate what they think is appropriate.”

RELATED: Satanic Holiday Display in Iowa Capitol Sparks Religious Liberty Debate

“I write that as a Bible-believing, Jesus is the only way, Pastor and elected leader who respects the constitution,” he continued. “I am SHOCKED so many want to give up their freedom, so they don’t have to see a display they disagree with.” 

Rep. Jon Dunwell: Jesus’ ‘Ways Are Different’

A firestorm erupted online this week in response to the news that The Satanic Temple erected a mannequin topped with a ram’s head made out of mirrors, a representation of Baphomet. According to TST cofounder Lucien Greaves, Baphomet is a figure that represents “pluralism, diversity, and nonbinary identity.” 

On social media, The Satanic Temple describes itself as “the only federally recognized international (non-theistic) religious Satanic organization.” While TST is classified as a religion (and is therefore tax-exempt), members do not believe in the supernatural or in Satan as a real being. The Satanic Temple is not the same as the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey.  

RELATED: What You Need to Know About the Newly Minted Satanic Temple ‘Religion’

The Iowa display is not the first time TST has put a display in a State Capitol building. The group maintains that if other religions have the right to put displays on government property, it should have the same option based on the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion.