Satanic Temple has the last laugh after assembly ends open invocation policy

December 25, 2023 by No Comments

Under the newly approved policy, volunteer chaplains serving the borough’s fire and emergency medical service areas, designated by the Assembly President, will be solely responsible for delivering invocations. The policy change, championed by Mayor Peter Micciche, Vice President Tyson Cox, and Assembly Member Kelly Cooper, was adopted in November 2023.

In advocating for the revised policy, Mayor Micciche cited recent invocations as having become unpredictable and unproductive, deviating from their intended purpose of focusing Assembly members. Ms. Fontana, one of the three plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in a 2017 lawsuit challenging the borough’s prior invocation policy, delivered the controversial closing.

That policy, restricting invocations to religious associations with an established presence, was deemed unconstitutional by the Alaska Superior Court in 2018. The ruling obligated the borough to pay $80,000 in legal fees and adopt a new policy, which remained in effect until last month’s change.

Ms. Fontana’s invocations, particularly her Satanist pronouncements, have previously sparked criticism. Notably, on December 12th, Kenai resident Toby Burke coordinated a Catholic prayer gathering outside the borough building. Mr. Burke stated that approximately five individuals participated in the religious observance.

The inaugural invocation under the new policy is anticipated at the next Assembly meeting, scheduled for January 2nd, 2024. Mayor Micciche has indicated that the chaplain serving Central Emergency Services in Soldotna is likely to assume the responsibility of delivering future invocations.

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