SOLDOTNA, Alaska (AP) — A Satanic Temple member who won the right to open a regional Alaska government meeting declared “Hail Satan” during her first invocation, prompting about a dozen officials and attendees to walk out.
Tuesday’s invocation that started the meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough also spurred a protest outside the southern Alaska borough’s administration building that drew 40 people, The Peninsula Clarion newspaper reported .
Protesters held signs saying “reject Satan and his works” and “know Jesus and his love.”
During her invocation, Satanic Temple member Iris Fontana said, “That which will not bend, must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared as demise. It is done, hail Satan,” Kenai radio station KSRM reported .
She was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit litigated by the ACLU of Alaska against the borough after it approved a 2016 policy saying that people who wanted to give the invocations at the government body’s meetings had to belong to official organizations with an established presence on the Kenai Peninsula, which lies 75 miles (121 kilometers) south of Anchorage. Other plaintiffs who had been denied permission to give the invocations included an atheist and a Jewish woman.
The Alaska Supreme Court last October ruled that the borough policy was unconstitutional and the borough government changed it in November to allow anyone to offer invocations regardless of religion.
Assembly members Norm Blakeley and Paul Fischer and borough Mayor Charlie Pierce were among those who left the assembly chambers along with some audience members.
Assembly members are not required to attend the invocation to participate in meetings.
The protesters included William Siebenmorgen, who flew to Alaska from Pennsylvania for the event.
“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,” he told KSRM.