As many Pastafarians will remember, the Kenai (Alaska) Borough Assembly has allowed religious groups to offer a prayer/invocation before government meetings. Some less-mainstream groups have taken part, including the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Another group, a group of professed Satanists, has also offered prayers where they encouraged attendees to ‘Hail Satan’. These invocations have not always gone over well (though I think the Pastafarian offerings were accepted by many, as opposed to the Satanist’s) — sometimes even leading to attendees walking out of the meetings.
The Alaska Watchman has published an article with developments. It seems the invocations – well, just those from diverse groups – may be coming to an end. Mayor Peter Micciche has introduced a resolution to restrict who can deliver the opening prayers, limiting it to official borough chaplains from the fire and emergency services. That will certainly lead to prayers by just the mainstream groups.
For years now, the assembly has endured formal appeals to Satan thanks to a 2018 Alaska Supreme Court opinion that claimed the borough could not bar Satanists from prayer without violating their First Amendment religious liberties.
Multiple satanic prayers have since been delivered by a Kenai resident who uses the invocation time to attack religious belief and offer praise to her Dark Lord.
The current policy allows “private” citizens to sign up on a rotating basis, which opens the door for all manner of “prayers,” some of which have been overtly political, agenda driven, farcical, and even satanic.-Alaska Watchmen
The Watchmen article is quite salty to say the least.
The inclusion of invocations by various citizens, including unconventional ones, has sparked debates about who should be permitted to deliver such prayers in civic meetings. The Watchman article does not mention it, but the controversy surrounding invocations also suggests a larger point: why are government meetings allowing religious services in the first place? These are official government proceedings after all, these are not places of worship.
A Pastafarian Perspective
As part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, our participation in the assembly’s invocations extends beyond making a statement on religious diversity or questioning the mix of religion and government affairs. Our aim is to authentically share our beliefs and values, which center on critical inquiry, and a scientific approach to understanding the world. It was our study of observable facts that led us to our conclusions – that these conclusions led us to believe in an almighty Spaghetti Monster and that Pirates were our ancestors is merely the end result. Certainly it would have been easier to join in more mainstream beliefs.
Our invocations are heartfelt expressions of our Pastafarian faith. We feel it is our duty to share our findings with the world, to contribute to the community’s spiritual tapestry and invite reflection on the diverse beliefs that shape our society.
The Challenge Of Inclusivity
The proposed amendment by Kenai’s officials might streamline meeting protocols, yet it could also exclude many voices, including ours, which goes against the inclusivity that is foundational to our nation’s values. We advocate for a policy that either embraces all expressions of faith or opts for a neutral, secular space that truly accommodates everyone.
As the Kenai Borough Assembly considers policy changes, we underscore the importance of upholding the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution — the freedom of and from religion. It’s crucial to preserve the right for all faiths, including those like ours, to share our beliefs in public forums.
The Church of FSM is committed to the open sharing of our faith through any channel available. We are hopeful for a respectful exchange that respects both the historical role of faith in public life and the necessity of adapting to our diverse modern society.
We remain ready to engage in Kenai Borough Assembly meetings, promoting tolerance, inclusivity, and enlightenment, in true Pastafarian spirit.
R’amen[Top photo is of resident Barrett Fletcher offering a Pastafarian invocation to the assembly back in 2019. Alaska Daily News covered this in a great article. Photo ADN.]