Last night, a Satanist gave an invocation before a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Alaska despite a petition calling for her rejection.
The saga actually began in 2016 when the invocations were open to anybody. The same Satanist, Iris Fontana, delivered an invocation with the line “It is done. Hail Satan.” And almost immediately afterwards, the policy changed. Speakers would only be drawn from an “Assembly-approved religious association”… which effectively shut out minority groups who couldn’t afford a building or who primarily exist online — Satanists, atheists, and the like.
After a lawsuit, a court ruled against the Assembly last October and said any invocation policy had to include opportunities for people of all faiths (and no faith) to speak, and the Assembly responded sensibly. They didn’t appeal the decision (which was wise since they would’ve lost). They also loosened the invocation policy so that representatives from any group could speak. All candidates had to do was submit a written application.
When this year’s calendar was filled out, the list included a “non-believer,” a Baha’i, a Wiccan, a Pastafarian, and (once again) Fontana.
No wonder Christians tried to get the Assembly to put a stop to it. A petition at a website called Return to Order (which is under the umbrella of the Catholic group American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property) suggested that it was appalling for the government to allow a Satanist to do the exact same thing Christians are allowed to do.
… How could a public institution which is meant to uphold the common good allow a representative of Satanic principles? Are immorality, corruption, and vice what we expect our public officials to promote?
Evil is being accepted by the public as Satanic actions like these break the barriers of horror we still have of evil. We must show our rejection! Please sign our petition, urging the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to cancel its Satanic invocation.
The writer of that petition is completely unaware that The Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are far more ethical than anything you’ll find in Christianity. There’s no immorality, corruption, or vice involved. Yet more than 25,000 people signed the petition.
TFP members also flew in from out of state to protest Fontana’s invocation:
Coordinator Rex Teodosio is flying in from Waukesha, Wisconsin, with nine friends. He said: “The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want Satan invoked in an official town meeting. But way too many remain silent. I won’t be silent. I say it’s time to stand up for America’s traditional family values. And Satanism is not one of them.”
[Said William Siebenmorgen, who is flying from Pennsylvania for the prayer vigil:] “Whatever the results of the June 18 Rally of Reparation, God will be pleased with our public prayers of reparation. We want God’s blessings on America, not Satan’s curses. Lucifer is the eternal loser. Let’s keep him out.“
This isn’t a popularity contest. It’s the law. And again, how dumb do you have to be to make a cross-country flight to protest Satanism without doing any research on what Fontana actually believes? (Spoiler: It’s not Satan.)
The good news is that Fontana was able to speak despite the haters and she gave one hell of an invocation:
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.
The bad news is that some members of the Assembly refused to listen to those words. (Apparently, embracing knowledge, judging people by their actions, and expressing compassion are too offensive for their delicate sensibilities.) Just look at the Assembly members during and just after her invocation:
Assembly members Norm Blakeley and Paul Fischer stepped out of the assembly chambers, along with chief of staff James Baisden and Mayor Charlie Pierce — as well as a handful of audience members.
About 40 people, some holding signs reading “reject Satan and his works” and “know Jesus and his love,” demonstrated outside the borough building before and during the meeting.
Several people addressed the borough’s invocation policy during the meeting’s allotted time for public comment. Michele Hartline and Paul Huber, both from Nikiski, offered their own Christian prayers during public comment.
Imagine how thin-skinned these Christians have to be to walk out during an invocation because it doesn’t honor their personal brand of mythology. What message are they sending to non-Christians in the community?
The Satanic invocation was precisely the kind of prayer this community needed. It was uplifting and inspiring — and yet some Christians still couldn’t handle it. If people treated Christian invocations the way those Christian officials treated Fontana’s, there would be whining for weeks.
All the more reason to get rid of the tradition altogether. But as long as it’s still there, hats off to Satanists willing to bring a more unique prayer into the mix.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)