A Satanic Temple member was allowed to open a government meeting with the phrase “hail Satan,” prompting a walkout by residents and officials.
Iris Fontana, a member of the Satanic Temple, delivered the invocation Tuesday at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, marking the first given by the Satanic Temple since the borough changed its policy in November, the Peninsula Clarion reported.
The new policy allows anyone to deliver an invocation, regardless of religion or belief.
“That which will not bend, must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared as demise,” Fontana said, according to Kenai radio station KSRM. “It is done, hail Satan.”
About 40 people protested the inclusion of a Satanic Temple invocation, some holding signs reading “reject Satan and his works” and “know Jesus and His love.”
Protester William Siebenmorgen 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.
The invocation prompted others to leave the meeting: "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," The Associated Press reported.
Fontana was among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Alaska against the borough’s 2016 policy requiring those who wanted to deliver invocations at government meetings to belong to official organizations with an established presence on the Kenai Peninsula.
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the borough’s policy was unconstitutional, and in November, the borough government changed it to allow anyone to offer invocations regardless of religion.
Ahead of Tuesday’s invocation, a petition at a website called Return to Order, an initiative of the Catholic group American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, called for the cancellation of the event.
“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?” read the petition, which received nearly 26,000 signatures.
“Evil is being accepted by the public as satanic actions like these break the barriers of horror we still have of evil,” it continued.
Founded in 2013, the Satanic Temple is known for its activism on church and state issues. In April, the group announced the Internal Revenue Service had granted its request for tax-exempt status, making it comparable to a church.
Last November, the group filed a lawsuit against Netflix and Warner Bros. over a depiction of their Baphomet statue in a new spin-off of the television series "Sabrina the Teenage Witch” titled “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
In 2018, the Chicago chapter of the Satanic Temple forced officials to display its "Snaketivity" statue next to a huge Christmas tree in the Illinois Statehouse rotunda.
In 2016, the group announced the launch of “After School Satan Clubs” for elementary schools in response to the presence of evangelical Christian Good News Clubs at public schools.