Alaska Town Affirms Right Of Satanists And Atheists To Offer Invocations At Council Meetings

Oct 14, 2014

CREDIT: AP

By Jack Jenkins

A small Alaska town has become the latest flashpoint in America’s ongoing debate over the definition of religious freedom, with a city assembly struggling to discern who gets to be included in efforts to expand “religious liberty.”

On Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly of Ketchikan, Alaska, voted to approve an ordinance that allows their meetings to begin with prayers of invocation. The city justified the move by referring to the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision Greece v. Galloway, which allowed volunteer chaplains to open legislative sessions with a prayer. They then cited the support of a local clergy group, charging the Ketchikan Ministerial Association with helping supply pastors to pray at meetings.

“The Ketchikan Ministerial Association, a non-denominational group of Ketchikan clergy, is in favor of this ordinance and has offered the support of its members to provide the invocation on a rotating basis,” the ordinance read. “If Ordinance 1740 is approved by the Assembly, the Clerk’s Office could coordinate with the KMA, and local clergy, for a member to provide the invocation at the beginning of each Assembly meeting.”

But while the Ketchikan Ministerial Association is non-denominational, it is an explicitly Christian group, professing “core values” that include a belief in the “Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He is the only begotten Son of God.” Council member Bill Rotecki drew attention to this fact, and proposed an amendment that would make the ordinance more inclusive to other religions and add atheists to the list of people who could offer invocations.


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13 comments on “Alaska Town Affirms Right Of Satanists And Atheists To Offer Invocations At Council Meetings

  • An equality of “preaching rights” removes the Xtian bias, but illustrates the ridiculous notion of preaching intruding in business meetings!
    Planning decisions, require evidence based expert advice, NOT “faith-thinking” distractions.



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  • The whole thing is ridiculous.

    Atheism is not a religion, and we should not demand the right to make invocations (from Latin invocare, to call; to call what, if there is nothing out there to be called?)

    What we should demand is to keep religious practices out of State spaces. And this means Evangelical cults and Catholic masses as much as “Atheist invocations”, whatever the latter are.

    But if there is going to be room for “Atheist invocations” in local legislature, let me make known that I am not represented by the official mainstream brand of Atheism, and demand, explicitely, invocations to be made by the Reformed Marxist Atheist Church of the Late Days of Capital Accumulation.

    And that if it is not provided, shame on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly.

    Aux armes, citoyens!

    …not.



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  • Well, I suppose a speaker could give a speech, (asking all assembled to look up instead of bowing), with the hope that the human race will see that “science and reason” will always be the most reliable source for true knowledge in the cosmos …while mentioning that faith is the exact polar opposite of such virtues and should be treated as the vice that it is.



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  • holysmokes Oct 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Well, I suppose a speaker could give a speech, (asking all assembled to look up instead of bowing), with the hope that the human race will see that “science and reason” will always be the most reliable source for true knowledge in the cosmos

    I suppose an “invocation on reason”, could resemble my “Chairman’s Opening Remarks”, when I am aware of addressing a group which thinks it is going to make decisions based on “faith” and “gut-feelings”, not having bothered to read the previously provided professional advice, or notes on legal requirements, for the decisions they are about to take!



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  • 8
    jjbircham says:

    And soccer fans,
    We demand our turn.
    Let us all take time out to wish jonathon Woodgate a speedy return after suffering a recurrence of his cruciate ligament damage sustained during the Rotherham game on tuesday evening.
    I now hand you over to brother william who has some sad news regarding James Milners bruised abs.

    Love the way they group atheists and satanists together. Everyone is always trying to give us satanists a bad name.



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  • jjbircham Oct 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

    And soccer fans, – We demand our turn.

    . . . . and the Sunderland team will be told to say “8 Hail Linekers” and 4 Our Shearers” at the start of their next coaching briefing ! !



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  • 10
    Light Wave says:

    What …..are you americans serious……jebus……satanists are just as cuckoo as religious people who believe in god…….god and satan are one and the same – “made up stories in the minds of crazy people” …….invocations……what are they invoking……delirium ?…..atheists should not be bunched with either crack pot groups…….atheists are the only rational group.



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  • Alan4discussion Oct 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

    For the benefit of overseas posters who are not familiar with English soccer, 8-0 was their losing score on Saturday.

    Gary Lineker is a previous star footballer and now a leading BBC football commentator.

    Alan Shearer commented on their performance with a detailed match analysis, on TV after the game. He is an ex England captain, and more to the point the ex-captain (now retired) of their arch local rival team Newcastle!

    (and the blessings of St. James’s be upon them!)



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  • For the life of me, I can’t figure out why a business meeting needs to start with any of this sentimental drivel, pleading for the attention of an all powerful deity or any other time wasting or sanctimonious false humility. Why not start off with a basic roll call and then get down to some efficient, well managed problem solving?

    Unfortunately, here in America, this is not the established state of affairs. I accept the reality that religion sticks its stupid, ugly nose into our lives constantly but I hate it every time that I see it happen. The only bright note here is that I see people and groups that fight back against these reactionary forces in public ways and I think they are the most resilient and brave people I know.

    I certainly agree that Atheism is not a religion and I always want to take the high road in these scuffles. I for one am much more comfortable here in my little library reading and contemplating and posting an occasional comment on my exquisite little laptop, but maybe that’s not always a realistic strategy for making change. Sometimes we need to get down and dirty in the trenches. When I think about the great advances that have been made by the gay community by “acting up” and “coming out” in significant numbers, and by feminists who also acted up and are now advocating a more public coming out in regards to abortion (read Katha Pollit), I think that the best thing for the atheist community is to follow these important models. In light of that, I think that we should take every opportunity to step up with pride, in public, and deliver an assertive example of our best ethical, humanitarian message.

    If an opportunity comes my way to do so, I won’t say no. I welcome an opportunity to model kind, compassionate leadership in combination with strict, high standards of ethical policy and behavior by leaders of all types. Let’s demonstrate how we come to decisions by balancing the defined ethical obligations instead of referring to a dusty old dastardly book from the Middle Eastern desert tribes of eons past.

    Even though I think these invocations are useless and should be eliminated entirely, I will take my place, if the opportunity arises, to speak and represent my secular viewpoints even if I take my turn between the satanist, the scientologist, the muslim, the jew, the catholic and the pentacostal christian, because I know I can hold my own in a tough group, and all in all, I believe that the contrast will be sharp and apparent to everyone. This is a good thing. This introvert science geek says – Into the fray!!!



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