Kenai is a small town on Alaska’s southern coast just south of Anchorage. Like many Alaskan towns, its population of 7,424 swells during Alaska’s six-week-or-so summer tourist season.
This isolated town became the scene of a face-off between the forces of good and evil at 6:00 p.m. on January 18, 2022.
At the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building, the Borough Assembly was ready to begin its regular meeting. As per standard practice, a local religious leader offered an invocation. Usually, the invoker is a Christian that reflects the local population. However, this month, a Satanist offered the invocation.
This action is typical of the members of The Satanic Temple, who are trying to claim the status of a religious organization. John Horvat, Vice President of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition Family and Property (TFP), summarizes the situation. “The Satanists become ever bolder. Catholics must expose them and their methods—wherever they appear.”
Thus, nearly three dozen TFP friends and supporters protested the invocation to Satan outside the building. For a January evening in Alaska, the weather was relatively warm—20 degrees above zero. Before the meeting, one of the protesters, Kenai resident Toby Burke, presented a petition to the Assembly. The American TFP and its Return to Order campaign organized the petition that collected 42,100 signatures—five and a half times the population of Kenai.
The petition stated,
“We urgently request that you remove all Satanic invocations from your assembly meetings. Such invocations have Satan as their inspiration, who is publicly understood to be the promoter of immorality, corruption, and vice. Above all, this is offensive to God and to numerous Christians who understand the danger that promoting Satan brings. The assembly should promote the common good, not the Father of Lies. Please cancel all Satanic invocations.
“Better to offend the judiciary of the state of Alaska than to offend God. By virtue of your humanity, you assemblymen are first and foremost subjects of God, the ultimate and heavenly authority. All earthly authorities are subordinate, including any international, national, or state power. So, fear not any earthly judge’s rule or authority but rather only that of the great, eternal, and heavenly Judge.
“A Satanic invocation is, in reality, an anti-invocation and accordingly has no right to be included in any assembly meeting. Put an immediate stop to the Satanic invocations that make a complete mockery of what is good, virtuous, and holy. God-fearing men take heed: Better to offend the sensibilities of men than to offend the eternal, all-powerful God.”
The protesters outside the building carried banners and signs deploring the Satanic invocation. They also prayed the Rosary, asking the Blessed Mother’s help in their defiance of the devil during the Assembly meeting.
The protest was similar to one held in 2016 when the Satanists initially sought to give the invocation. At that time, the Kenai Assembly had denied permission, adopting a resolution that limited giving the invocation to “members of religious associations that are established and regularly meet in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.”
In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought suit against the Assembly. It offered its time-worn rhetoric about defending “the guarantee of separation of church and state, freedom of speech, freedom of association and equal protection under the law.” One plaintiff dressed up this abomination in high-sounding rhetoric. “I’m fighting for the rights of everybody in the Borough to participate in all manners and facets of the Assembly in which the public is allowed.”
The ACLU position prevailed in court, and since that time, the Assembly must allow almost anyone to offer the invocation.
However, the Assembly participants showed a universal contempt for Satan. They found ways to protest inside the chamber while others were protesting outside. Several citizens left the room during the invocation, including Assembly Members Norm Blakeley and Paul Fischer. Mayor Charlie Pierce came into the chamber after the Satanist finished. Others stood up and turned their backs to the speaker. Many refused to follow the usual custom of standing during the invocation. While maintaining proper decorum, virtually no one in the chamber supported the speaker or Satan.
The defiance was complete inside and outside the chamber. Satan received the contempt he deserves. It was a replay of the battle described in Genesis: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (3:15)