Pastafarians and Satanist Will Deliver Invocations Before Assembly Meetings in Alaska

David Suhor, founder of The Satanic Temple -West Florida 2016 Pensacola City Council invocation speech. Photo via Video screenshot

All a speaker has to do is to make an application beforehand

Willy Dunne, a member of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, told everyone to be prepared for an exciting time. He said there is going to be an interesting array of characters ready to pronounce invocations before Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Assembly meetings. The invocations, as defined in the Borough code, are “encouraging words” spoken by elected officials before starting their business. This process has been bogged down in controversy during the last few years.

The list of interesting characters will include what many will regard as adherents of fringe religions like The Satanic Temple and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti. To the shock of conservative Christians, these people are now scheduled to invoke their deities before all local government meetings that will take place on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska in 2019.

This heterogeneous assemblage of speakers is the latest twist in one of the longest-running disputes in Alaska on the subject over who is permitted to utter invocations before the assembly meetings. It is to be seen whether the audience will accept such an arrangement or not. Only the passage of time can provide the answer. According to the local newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, Christian pastors are usually selected by the assembly to fill roles. That changed in 2016 when officials democratized the process. Rules were changed to permit any person to sign up on a first-come, first-serve principle. Many in the government committee felt jitters when in August, Iris Fontana took advantage of the new rules and ended her invocation with “Hail Satan.” Many officials even wondered whether they should revert to the old system. The assembly then made a policy which gave permission solely to approved religious groups when it came to speeches during meetings.

A lawsuit was subsequently filed by Alaska’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in October 2018 in the Alaska Superior Court, and ruled the Assembly’s decision an unconstitutional one. The rule changed to state that any resident can submit a written request to speak to the state chamber. 

Several members of these fringe religions have already turned in their applications. One of them is Barrett Fletcher, a “Pastafarian,” an adherent of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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