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A Kentucky court has ruled that a state law that declares the state Office of Homeland Security cannot do its job without God’s help is unconstitutional.
The New Jersey-based group American Atheists filed suit last December against the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a 2002 law that says “the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”
Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, said the language crossed an inappropriate line. “It is not merely acknowledging God, it is requiring Kentuckians to rely on that God,” Kagin said.
Of particular concern to American Atheists was a 2006 law that required a plaque containing the “Almighty God” language to be placed at the entrance to Kentucky’s Emergency Operations Center.
That language was inserted by state Rep. Tom Riner, a Louisville Democrat who is also pastor of Christ is King Baptist Church.
In his ruling on Wednesday (Aug. 26) Judge Thomas D. Wingate called the language in the law unconstitutional. Riner, however, says the statement is not about religion, but rather about God.
“God is not a religion, God is God,” Riner said, according to media reports, adding that he was considering taking up the case with state Attorney General Jack Conway.
American Atheists and 10 other individual plaintiffs, meanwhile, say the language is irrelevant to the department’s mission.
“We think the Division of Homeland Security should be about homeland security, not preaching religion,” the group said in a statement. `It should concentrate on people (not prayer), and guns (not gods).”
By Kristen May
c. 2009 Religion News Service

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