AP NEWS

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly broadens prayer policy

November 21, 2018

KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s policy on prayers at Assembly meetings will be broadened in response to a court ruling that it violated the Alaska Constitution.

The borough Assembly voted 7-2 Tuesday to amend the policy to allow a greater range of eligible individuals who can give invocations and reflect the diversity of beliefs in the borough, Kenai radio station KSRM reported .

″ I believe that this policy addresses the needs of the majority of our constituents,” Assembly member Kelly Cooper said.

The change follows an October ruling by the state Superior Court that the previous borough’s policy violated a ban on the government establishing an official religion or favoring one religion over another.

The borough had claimed a policy adopted in 2016 was inclusive of all religious groups.

The policy said invocations could only be delivered by chaplains serving the military, law enforcement and other agencies, or members of locally established religious organizations.

An atheist, a member of The Satanic Temple and someone from Homer’s small Jewish community applied to give invocations after the policy was established. They were denied because they didn’t belong to official organizations with an established presence on the peninsula.

After the October court ruling, the Assembly decided against appealing to the state Supreme Court. Borough Attorney Colette Thompson said the Assembly needed to take action to comply with the ruling.

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Information from: KSRM-AM, http://www.radiokenai.com