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Bill of the Day: Not Today, Satan

Bill of the Day: Not Today, Satan

By: Sarah Ulmer - February 20, 2024

FILE - A damaged Satanic display is shown at the Iowa state Capitol on Dec. 15, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. A Mississippi man who admitted to destroying a statue of a pagan idol at Iowa’s state capitol has been charged with a hate crime. The statue was brought to the capitol by the Satanic Temple of Iowa under state rules allowing religious displays in the capitol during the holidays. The move drew strong criticism from state and national leaders. On Dec. 14, the figure depicting the horned deity Baphomet was “destroyed beyond repair,” according to the group. (AP Photo/Scott McFetridge, file)

  • Magnolia Tribune brings you a Bill of the Day from the 2024 Mississippi Legislative Session that just may pique your interest.

Mississippi is located deep in the heart of the Bible Belt. While Christianity is the most commonly practiced religion in the state, not everyone shares in the same spiritual beliefs.

However, one Magnolia State lawmaker is working to ensure satanic symbols are left out of public spaces through a bill titled “Reject Escalating Satanism by Preserving Essential Core Traditions Act,” or the RESPECT Act.

The bill filed by State Representative Jill Ford (R) would prohibit any displays, symbols, or the actual practice of satanic worship on public property. The legislation – HB 1282 – states that these properties include public schools, or any areas owned by the state or its political subdivisions such as in counties and municipalities.

Rep. Ford’s RESPECT Act notes that there exists a wide range of spiritual views among Mississippians, and that they are free to practice those in private. It also highlights the Judeo-Christian faith as the key to the fundamental establishment of the United States of America and furthermore expresses that the Legislature finds that “good and evil exist.”

The bill explicitly says, “The State of Mississippi does not recommend Satanic practice in any form,” followed by an understanding that citizens can do as they please in the privacy of their own homes in the event it does not violate the law.

If someone is found in violation of the act, should it pass and be signed into law, they could be subject to a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Recently, a former congressional and legislative candidate residing in Mississippi was charged with a hate crime for beheading a statue erected by The Satanic Temple at Iowa’s state Capitol. The incident occurred in December 2023.

READ MORE: Cassidy charged with hate crime for beheading Satanic statue in Iowa

After seeing the statue on social media and then that it remained in the Capitol and was not a joke, Michael Cassidy “bought a plane ticket on a whim” to go to see it for himself. When he saw it in person, Cassidy said in an interview, “I knew that it couldn’t stand so I took it down.”

Cassidy, a former U.S. Navy pilot, posted on X, “To those who think Satanic altars have an equal right to be in Capitols as Nativity scenes: If a group dedicated to the worship of Osama Bin Laden (even if just a bad joke) was organized as ‘a religious group’, should it receive equal access to display a shrine to Bin Laden?”

As for State Rep. Ford’s RESPECT Act, it has been referred to the Public Property Committee in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: