A public meeting in Alaska began with an invocation that included the mantra “Hail Satan!” The invocation, given by a member of the Satanic Temple, led to walkouts from attendees and officials, as well as protests outside the meeting.
The incident took place at the Kenia Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting in southern Alaska. Iris Fontana, a member of the Satanic Temple, was the first member of a nontraditional religion to offer the invocation at the meeting after the Assembly was forced to change their policy about who could offer invocations.
In the invocation, she said, “Let us be present in this moment, clear our minds and be free of outdated propaganda and regulations that were created by historical people who were afraid of the unknown. Let us embrace the impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, so that we may let go of comforting delusions, and see the truth in the world. Let us demand that humans be judged for their actions, not their loyalty to useless social norms, labels, and categories. Let us stand firm against all authority that tries to threaten the unalienable rights of all humans. Let us cast aside our differences to use reason, logic, science, and compassion to create solutions for the greater good of our community. It is Done. Hail Satan. Thank you.”
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Fontana also offered an invocation before the assembly in 2016, as well as an atheist, who said “I urge you to try and walk a mile in the opposition’s shoes, and let reason and logic guide your compassion to a decision.”
This led the assembly to adopt a policy which only allowed members of recognized religious groups with a presence on the peninsula to offer invocations. The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska brought a lawsuit against the assembly on behalf of Fontana, Lance Hunt, an atheist, and Elise Boyer, a member of the Jewish Community in the city of Homer. Anchorage Superior Court Jude Andrew Peterson found that the invocation violated the establishment clause of the Alaskan Constitution.
In November, the assembly voted against appealing the decision and changed their policy to allow all religious groups to offer an invocation. Barrett Fletcher, pastor of the First Lower Peninsula Congregation of Pastafarians, called on the assembly to do away with invocations. He said people will be offended when he offers the invocation and prays to the “creator of the universe, the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
Another community member, Greg Anderson, warned the room to be ready to hear something they don’t like when he offers the next invocation. “This is just some advanced notice for those of you who have a hard time accepting that some people have beliefs that are different than your own. You can turn your back and walk out like I witnessed this evening.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
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