God Reference in Ky. Laws Questioned

Monday, 19 Nov 2012 11:00 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Some Kentucky citizens represented by the group American Atheists wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal of a lawsuit challenging a state law that credits Almighty God for keeping the homeland safe.
The state Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, which stems from a 2002 law passed by the Kentucky legislature after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. The law says the "safety and security of the commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.
The lawsuit also challenges a 2006 law creating the state’s Office of Homeland Security that requires its director to publicize “dependence on Almighty God” in agency training and educational materials.
The American Atheists petition to the Supreme Court  argues that the state laws violate a constitutional prohibition against public sponsorship of religion and cites decisions banning the public display of the Ten Commandments to back up its case.
A Kentucky circuit court judge upheld the group’s claim after it first sued in 2008, ruling that state lawmakers had “created an official government position on God.” But a state appeals court in 2011 reversed the judge’s decision, saying the government was only paying “lip service” to commonly held beliefs in God.
Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, complains in the petition that the laws imply atheists are “dangerous to the post-9/11 security of the Commonwealth and contributes to bias and stereotypes about atheists.”
According to the Courier-Journal, Kagin referred to the laws as part of a larger “misguided push to improperly mix religion and government” by Kentucky lawmakers.

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