The topic of appropriate invocations will come back before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly at its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
The borough assembly is scheduled to consider a resolution revising its policy governing who can give the invocation before the body’s meetings. The resolution, sponsored by Borough Assembly President Blaine Gilman and assembly member Dale Bagley, will go into effect immediately if the borough assembly passes it at the Tuesday meeting. Because it is a resolution, it can be considered and passed at one meeting rather than having to delay for public hearing.
Controversy arose over the borough’s long tradition of beginning meetings with an invocation this summer when several members of the public said the invocation at a public meeting made them uncomfortable. An ordinance to remove the place in the agenda for the invocation died before introduction, and the borough assembly instead opted to allow anyone interested from any religion to offer the invocation.
Outcry from some members of the community arose again when a member of the Temple of Satan offered an invocation before the assembly in August. One member of the borough assembly left the room and several members of the audience as well as some borough staff sat instead of standing. About a week later, a group of members of the Catholic Church offered prayer in front of the borough assembly building and counter-protestors staged a protest around them.
Two assembly members filed ordinances for the following meeting related to the invocation, one transitioning it to a moment of silence and another eliminating it, but both failed before introduction.