City officials may ditch opening prayers after Satanist exercised right to pray

An Alaska borough that finally allowed a member of The Satanic Temple to deliver an invocation last month may end the practice of prayer before meetings altogether, rather than let another invocation be ended with the words “Hail Satan” at the end of it.

Iris Fontana delivered a Satanic invocation in mid-June, following a court battle with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly that went all the way to the state Supreme Court of Alaska. Fontana alleged she should be allowed to deliver an invocation just as much as any other faith does, but was banned from doing so by the legislative body.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Fontana delivered her invocation, which resulted in several borough members leaving the meeting in protest, including the mayor, according to previous reporting from The Friendly Atheist.

The lawmakers weren’t alone in their disgust — outside of that meeting, more than 40 protesters joined them.

As a result of the uproar, one of the borough assembly members is proposing doing-away with the invocation once and for all.

“Many residents of the borough have requested that invocations at assembly meetings be eliminated,” assembly member Willy Dunne wrote in a memo, according to a report from Radio Kenai. “Ending the practice of invocations will save the borough taxpayers’ money and reduce divisiveness in our community. It is expected that assembly members can find ways to have their spiritual needs met outside of public meetings.”

The full assembly will vote on the matter on Tuesday at 6 p.m. local time. If the measure passes, it will go to a vote for citizens to decide on, which would be held October 1.

Dunne justified his proposal by citing the fact that invocations are meant to serve the “spiritual needs” of lawmakers. “However, recent invocations have failed to accomplish that and have resulted in controversial and divisive actions in our community,” Dunne added.

The removal of the invocation may, in fact, be a development Temple members would find acceptable. The organization itself doesn’t actually believe in Satan, “nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural,” the organization wrote in its FAQ pages.

“The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan,” the organization added.

Featured image via screen grab/Friendly Atheist

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a freelance news and opinion writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. With more than 15 years of experience, Chris has published work that spans three separate presidencies. In his free time, Chris likes to pretend he can play guitar.