American Atheists Inc. has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can’t keep the state safe without God’s help. At issue is 2002 law that stresses God’s role in Kentucky’s homeland security alongside the military, police agencies and health departments.
Of specific 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 itself which is 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 (Psalm 127:1).”
Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc. claims, “It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen.” The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions.
On the opposing side, 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.”
Kentucky isn’t the only state dealing with religious issues in the courts, but Ed Buckner, president of American Atheists, said it stands alone alone in officially enlisting God in homeland security.
“I’m not aware of any other state or commonwealth that is attempting to dump their clear responsibility for protecting their citizens onto God or any other mythological creature,” Buckner said.
State Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, said the preamble to the Kentucky constitution references a people “grateful to almighty God,” so he said he sees no constitutional violation in enlisting God in the state’s homeland security efforts.
“God help us if we don’t,” he said.
While some may think it is silly to place the responsibility of homeland security on God’s shoulders, in all reality it is simply a statement of faith, that is faith in the Almighty’s protection. And believe me the day that God’s hand is withdrawn from protecting this great country of ours, we will know it. Should we continue the course we are on, that day may come sooner than we think.
I am reminded of II Chronicles 7:14 – “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”