Ron DeSantis blames Donald Trump for emboldening Satanic Temple

Satanism and displays promoting such are in the unexpected spotlight in the Republican presidential race, with Ron DeSantis blaming the Donald Trump administration’s Internal Revenue Service for giving the Satanic Temple a leg up.

Currently, the Satanic Temple has a display in the Iowa State Capitol, which was greenlighted by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services over the objections of Republicans, including Gov. Kim Reynolds.

During a Tuesday CNN town hall, DeSantis laid the blame for the Baphomet blowout on the former Republican President.

“So it’s interesting, I heard this and then I was like, well, how did it get there? Is that even a religion and lo 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, adding that “it very well may be because of that ruling under Donald Trump that they may have had a legal leg to stand up.”

Indeed, the Associated Press reports that in 2019, the IRS granted the Satanic Temple tax-exempt status. Prior to that, then-President Trump issued an executive order offering “robust protections for religious freedom” that provided the basis for that change of tax status.

“My view would be that’s not a religion that the Founding Fathers were trying to create,” DeSantis added. “But I do think that IRS ruling, I was really surprised to see that they did that.”

DeSantis believes Trump “recognized it as a religion because otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to do it” and he doesn’t “think that was the right decision.” He also noted that “in Florida, I don’t think we probably would have had it up.”

Interestingly, the Satanic Temple did mount an effort to get displays in the Florida Capitol in past years, such as in 2013, when it sought to place a cardboard diorama of an angel falling into hell. The state rejected the diorama, saying it was “grossly offensive,” which nearly sparked a First Amendment lawsuit.

After being placed in the rotunda the following year, a Tallahassee woman who described herself as a “devout Catholic” later was arrested by Capitol Police after she tried to remove the diorama. Charges were dropped.

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