A Year in Jail for Not Believing in God? How Kentucky is Persecuting Atheists | Alternet

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In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.


In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.

The law and its sponsor, state representative Tom Riner, have been the subject of controversy since the law first surfaced in 2006, yet the Kentucky state Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality, despite clearly violating the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.
 
“This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen,” said Edwin Kagin, the legal director of American Atheists’, a national organization focused defending the civil rights of atheists. American Atheists’ launched a lawsuit against the law in 2008, which won at the Circuit Court level, but was then overturned by the state Court of Appeals.
 
The law states, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”

Written By: Laura Gottesdiener
continue to source article at alternet.org

45 COMMENTS

  1. If God is **Almighty**, then why needs must the most powerful navy, army and air force in the world? With the most powerful ally on your side, surely they can dispatch with the US military and out-source the nation’s defense to Him?! Oh, wait…yeah, thought so.

  2. As an outsider, one can’t help viewing the US as if one
    were watching Elmer Gantry.

    This is probable true of any country, I am sure the US and
    the rest of the world views the UK as Downton Abbey on a massive scale at the moment.

  3. First point: I notice State Rep Tom Riner is a Democrat.

    Second point: Don’t people in Kentucky realise that this law makes them more like Iran (their great enemy) and less like every other Wstern democracy?

    But third point and the most important is that these pro-Christian laws and political statements are about nationalism as much as religion. I know atheists in the UK who want to defend and shore up Christianity in the face of Islam. It’s not surprising – religions have always been about in groups and out groups, so political leaders have coopted them for political reasons and now Christianity has a permanent place alongside other symbols of national identity. People are still patriotic – I am – though sometimes I wish I wasn’t, and often I realise it is irrational and would rather have a world with no borders.

  4. Interesting, so the state’s supreme court can just blatantly uphold unconstitutional laws and nobody can do anything about it?

    This is already mullah territory.

    Also, people(especially atheists) who disregard this as just being silly and unenforceable are fucking idiotic.

  5. This is the second time this story has come up at RDFRS – and nothing changed in the middle.

    If the story is being accurately reported (and the two stories posted here agree so I have to assume they are factual) then the risk that someone would actually go to jail for not obeying this law is vanishingly small.

     - “The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God
    be installed outside the state Homeland Security building – and carries a
    criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply.”

    Therefore, in order to be prosecuted, a member of the Kentucky Homeland Security staff would have to refuse to instal, or maintain, a plaque on a specific Kentucky Homeland Security building.  The law is 6 years old and no-one has been prosecuted so far.  That probably says something about Kentucky Homeland Security staff.

    I get it; Kentucky legislators broke down the wall of church / state separation – and the principle is at risk while it is being undermined in this way. In addition, accepting the Act’s wording would also undermine the principle of no religious test for office and open the door to Sharia-style law where citizen’s themselves could be tested on their ‘faith’ by a new Act using almost identical wording.

    Even with that caveat, atheists are in danger of looking like they have lost the plot shouting about a law that achieves so little in practice.

    Three things need to happen:

     - Tone down the outrage, and actually communicate with the people of Kentucky

     - Scale up the rhetoric on slippery slope – try to keep to the facts

     - Continue to pursue all legal avenues

    Peace,

  6. The law makes reference to the Kennedy speech of 11/22/63.  I think this is the speech he never gave because he was killed on his way to making that speech.  I guess God’s protection did not extend to open cars in motorcades.

  7. To me, these fundies are starting to all look the same – can spot ‘em a mile away :/
    this guy is red lining on the fundy-o-meter. 

    separate America from its history

    For the 47 thousandth time, the Americas were already established.

  8.  
    The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God be installed outside the state Homeland Security building–and carries a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply. The plaque’s inscription begins with the assertion, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance
    upon Almighty God.”

    So how long will it be before someone tests the all-powerful omnipotent security system by pinching the plaque?

  9. I expect no less from a state which is named after a fried-chicken franchise.

    A year in jail sounds preferable to a year on the streets of Kentucky. Might even get the opportunity to meet Henry Earl.

  10. I made it a lowercase god to not signify the denial of A God; though, I expect their law is held in recognition of one of the Christian gods and has not a care for all the others. I say Christian gods only because I have heard many Christians describe very different gods, so I assume they are talking about more than one.

    Upon further review, it appears to be the Almighty God they are referring to. More clarity would be nice.

  11.  
    Beachbum

    What are the Buddhists to do now? How about Native Americans or atheists? Pathetic.

    aquilacane – More clarity would be nice.

    I have seen signs amended by placing stickers with new text, over the errors!

  12. This particular Representative has been at it for a while: 
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/

    Obviously, he’s out of step with most Dems, and unsurprisingly has been criticised by other Reps. 

    Metamag: unconstitutional laws can be challenged in court, but it’s a case of choosing your battles. This is an offensive law, but it’s inconsequential in terms of directly affecting the operation of government as far as I can see. Could you explain why this position is “idiotic”? Chasing after every silly move made by low-level politicians would seem a poor use of resources. If you wan’t to have a go, though, knock yourself out.

  13. Sometimes I am confused about the exact intent behind the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001. Did the attackers intend to use fear as motivation for Muslim conversion or were they merely content to promote the adoption of more irrational Christian based beliefs? This law adopted by the government in Kentucky is a betrayal of the enlightenment principles which inspired the birth of the United States many centuries ago. It would appear that by attacking New York City, fundamentalist Islam has triggered a rebirth of fundamentalist Christianity and that most US citizens are either completely unaware or unconcerned by this legislatively enforced conflation of church and state. Australia has many, many problems but thankfully we don’t have this church/state conflation, yet.

  14.  I think the law should be amended, giving equal time to all the gods (in true “intelligent design” style). There should be 2800 plaques erected outside the state Homeland Security building, one for each of the crazy madeup deities for which we have names.

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