The AP reported yesterday on a group of atheists in Kentucky suing over the wording of an anti-terrorism law that requires the state’s Office of Homeland Security to proclaim that it cannot safeguard Kentucky without the aid of God.
Wait, what? Besides the fact that no other state in the country has such a clause in place, you might think that Kentuckians would have learned something from the 2005 kerfuffle over the courthouse display of the Ten Commandments that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Apparently the battle between good and evil (who’s who, again?) will rage on, however:
American Atheists Inc. sued in state court over a 2002 law that stresses God’s role in Kentucky’s homeland security alongside the military, police agencies and health departments.
Of particular concern is a 2006 clause requiring the Office of Homeland Security to post a plaque that says the safety and security of the state “cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God” and to stress that fact through training and educational materials.
The plaque, posted at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, includes the Bible verse: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
“It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen,” said Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc. The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions.
But Democratic state Rep. Tom Riner, a Baptist minister from Louisville, said he considers it vitally important to acknowledge God’s role in protecting Kentucky and the nation.
“No government by itself can guarantee perfect security,” Riner said. “There will always be this opposition to the acknowledgment of divine providence, but this is a foundational understanding of what America is.”