Alaska City Assembly Votes for Inclusive Invocations, but They Will “Draw the Line on Satanists or Atheists”

***Update*** (3:40p): Reader Steven sent Assembly member Glen Thompson an email reminding him that the law says he cannot exclude atheists and Satanists if the Assembly allows invocations.

Thompson replied:

You are correct and I have officially retracted that statement. It has to be all-inclusive or not-at-all

Excellent. I assume that means Thompson will support an amendment to the ordinance to allow anyone and everyone who wants to deliver an invocation to do so.

***Update 2***: More information on his recantation here.

Last night, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly in Alaska decided to approve an ordinance that would allow invocation prayers at their meetings. No surprise there. Since Greece v. Galloway, many city governments have been doing just that. But one part of the ordinance seems a little off:

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. 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.

Considering the KMA is an explicitly Christian group, that means Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, and everyone else would be shut out of the invocation-delivery business…

But at least the Assembly members realized that, right? Proposal sponsor Glen Thompson (below) sure did and he says those groups will be welcome. But just those groups:

I don’t have a problem with having an inclusive denominations, be they Hindu, Islam, Bahai faith, Christian, what have you. I will draw the line on Satanists or atheists.

What?! Why are we shut out? Atheists and Satanists can deliver invocations, too!

Bill Rotecki, another Assembly member, suggested adding atheists to the list of those “approved” to give invocations, but that amendment was rejected. And then the ordinance jumped right past the first hurdle.

The ordinance passed in first reading 4-3, with Rotecki, Bailey and Phillips voting no. A public hearing and second reading of the measure are scheduled for the Assembly’s Oct. 20 regular meeting.

I’m sure they’d love to hear from all of you. Be respectful but firm. Here’s their contact info:

Alan Bailey: alanb@kgbak.us
Agnes Moran: agnesm@kgbak.us
Mike Painter: mikep@kgbak.us
Todd Phillips: toddp@kgbak.us
Bill Rotecki: billr@kgbak.us
Glen Thompson: glent@kgbak.us
Jim Van Horn: jimv@kgbak.us

If the ordinance makes it through the next reading and ultimately passes, you can bet there will be a lawsuit. Why local citizens would want their elected officials to waste taxpayer money defending bigotry, I have no idea, but I’d be pissed off if I were in their snowshoes.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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