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Atheist group sues state Homeland Security department

December 01, 2008 | | Comments 24

By John Cheves – jcheves@herald-leader.com

Edwin Kagin

Edwin Kagin

An atheists-rights group is suing the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security because state law requires the agency to stress “dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

American Atheists of Parsippany, N.J., and 10 non-religious Kentuckians are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, set to be filed Tuesday in Franklin Circuit Court.

Edwin Kagin, a Boone County lawyer and the national legal director of American Atheists, said he was appalled to read in the Herald-Leader last week that state law establishes praising God – and installing a plaque in God’s honor – as the first duty of the Homeland Security Office.

The state and federal constitutions both prohibit government from getting involved in religion, Kagin said Monday.

“This is one of the most outrageous things I’ve seen in 35 years of practicing law. It’s breathtakingly unconstitutional,” Kagin said.
Gov. Steve Beshear’s office had not seen the suit and therefore had no comment, spokesman Jay Blanton said.

The requirement to credit God for Kentucky’s protection was tucked into 2006 homeland security legislation by state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, a Southern Baptist minister.

“This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said last week.

Riner said he expects Homeland Security to include language recognizing God’s benevolent protection in its official reports and other materials – sometimes the agency does, and sometimes it doesn’t – and to maintain a plaque with that message at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort.

In the suit, American Atheists argues that Homeland Security should focus on public-safety threats rather than promote religion.

The suit notes that the federal and state homeland security agencies were created as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists, and it refers to those attacks as “a faith-based initiative.”

The plaintiffs ask for the homeland security law to be stripped of its references to God. They also ask for monetary damages, claiming to have suffered sleeping disorders and “mental pain and anguish.”

“Plaintiffs also suffer anxiety from the belief that the existence of these unconstitutional laws suggest that their very safety as residents of Kentucky may be in the hands of fanatics, traitors or fools,” according to the suit.

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  1. Brian says:

    I feel your pain guys. It’s a shame so many people are wrapped up in “god”.
    Silly people.

  2. Jo says:

    It is never too late as long as we have breath to be saved by the Lord Jesus. Christians. This is yet another opportunity to show God’s love to others.

  3. Tim says:

    Why do we even acknowledge these these ridiculous lawsuits? Each person is entitled to his/her own opinion and should not be allowed by the courts, to be sued (persecuted) for having a different opinon. This is why insurance rates are so high. We want to sue for everything.

  4. gent258 says:

    No one saved the people from the Halocaust. No one saved the slaves taken from Africa. I guess if there is any “saving” we will have to do it ourselves and not wait for it to fall out of the sky.

  5. mch213 says:

    Separation of church and state, anyone? Anyone at all?

  6. Scott says:

    Well since neither groups pay taxes, why are they spending my tax dollars to defend or even recognize them!

  7. aveteran says:

    If “god” is responsible for the safety and security of Kentucky, their Homeland Security budget can be eliminated and spent on some much-needed education.

  8. Jack says:

    I find it very interesting that so many people wrote intelligent comments about this article earlier only to be discarded.

  9. David says:

    I think that it’s a clear violation of the establishment clause, but this group really hurts their efforts by soliciting money for “sleeping disorders”, “mental pain and anguish”, and “anxiety”. Attorney costs…fine, but don’t get greedy.

  10. Bob says:

    This seperation of church and state stuff is taken WAY to far. I know there have been alot of different interpritations over time. But come on, the idea was that the church can not dictate to the state what must be done. Nor can the state estabilish one church that we all have to be a part of. Carrying it farther than that is to much. In a nation that is composed primarily of God believing people, why shouldn’t the people who for little bits and parts of our government be allowed to acknowledge God in a single statement. So what, they didn’t say everyone has to be Methodist or Jewish or whatever. And the athiests/agnostics of our world will be fine so long as we don’t force them to join somthing they don’t agree with. In short, seperation of church and state does not mean the same as eliminating all talk of the supernatural from public places.

  11. jacob freeman says:

    It’s the Lord of the Rings folks. Good vs. evil. Atheists are evil people. They don’t care about anything but the act of destruction. They are the Orks, they and radical homosexuals are the force of evil. The battle lines are being drawn. Better quit engaging in conversation and start taking action.

  12. MillerLite says:

    Legislators should have to be lawyers, then we’d have a better chance at laws that make a difference, don’t waste taxpayers dollars and at have proven that they are somewhat educated.

    This is absolutely stupid that it even was considered, much less ever became a law…

    Williams at it again!!! What a fool!!!

  13. […] is clearly in league with Al-Queda.  These godless, Islamic-collaborationist, bastards are suing the state of Kentucky Office of Homeland Security over a 2006 law that requires the state recognize […]

  14. Mark E. Smith says:

    This isn’t about church and state.

    The simple fact is that Homeland Security has been wasting money so frivolously that, given the current economy, only a miracle can protect us from any genuine dangers.

    They’re not saying that they’re religious fanatics, they’re just admitting that they’re totally incompetent.

  15. Paul says:

    What a sad little world you live in.

  16. Chuck says:

    I sincerely doubt that such a law has created much “pain and anguish” for the plantiffs, but if there is a state law that stresses dependence upon God for the protection of its citizens, then Kagin is right,it is clearly ununconstitutional and violates the separation of church and state. As long as keep electing fundamentalist preachers to state office, we will have to deal with the intrusion of partisan religion into government. Fortunately, the law is on our side. By the way, I’m a Baptist pastor.

    Chuck

  17. […] offer this without comment: An atheists-rights group is suing the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security because […]

  18. Reward offered says:

    I have a crisp $100 bill that I will give to anyone who can show me where the Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Not just the first person, but any person. That means everyone in the whole wide world.

    Just show me where the Constitution, either in the body or in the amendments, requires the separation of church and state, and the money’s yours.

  19. […] is clearly in league with Al-Queda.  These godless, Islamic-collaborationist, bastards are suing the state of Kentucky Office of Homeland Security over a 2006 law that requires the state recognize […]

  20. […] Atheists is now suing the state, with the help of “10 non-religious Kentuckians.” The lawsuit will be filed on Tuesday. […]

  21. Helios says:

    If your religion cannot stand without government welfare, in the form of our tax money, then your faith should fall. You already have your tax-exempt churches, yet here you are again, with your begging cup, expecting to force non-believers to support your propaganda. If I were you, I would feel ashamed at the thought of using money not freely given to support my faith.

  22. Elizabeth Taylor LaPierre says:

    Your stupid question quit being answered many years ago. Grow an ability to read and discern.

  23. Jen K says:

    This law says the same thing as what the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”

    My question is, will these people be asking Thomas Jefferson for financial damages too?

  24. JackLand says:

    First Amendment:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
    Art. VI:
    “…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Keep your money. Use it to buy a 9th grade civics book. Read. Digest. Repeat as necessary until ignorance fades.