Edwin Kagin on Atheist News in Kentucky


AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT
http://www.atheists.org

ALL OUT! MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009– 10:00 AM

SUPPORT AMERICAN ATHEIST

LAWSUIT AGAINST HOMELAND SECURITY CALL UPON “GOD” IN TERRORISM FIGHT!

Franklin County Courthouse, 218 St. Clair St., Frankfort, Kentucky

On behalf of several plaintiffs, AMERICAN ATHEISTS has filed suit against the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the state Office of Homeland Security over a statute which calls upon “God” to protect the citizenry from terrorism. The lawsuit also contests a requirement that a statement to that effect must be posted in the entrance to the Homeland Security office.

Background is included below, and is posted in the ATHEIST NEWS section of our web site at http://wsww.atheists.org. The full text of the suit can be found at http://www.atheists.org/upload/aavky.pdf .

Rather than admit wrongdoing in this unconstitutional promotion of sectarian religion, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is squandering taxpayer funds and defending its position in court. On Monday, government attorneys will be at the Franklin County Courthouse, 218 St. Clair St. in Frankford, KY to ask the court to dismiss the Atheist lawsuit. American Atheist Legal Director Edwin Kagin will be present to rebut their arguments; and outside, Atheists, Freethinkers, state-church separationists and civil libertarians will hold a peaceful demonstration in support of the suit. Bring appropriate signs and banners; the demo begins at 10:00 AM Different organizations are cooperating in this project. For further information, contact Ed Hensley (plaintiff) through edwin.hensley@insightbb.com or Kate Miller of the Kentucky ACLU (kater@aclu-ky.org .

WHAT: Demo to support the American Atheist lawsuit!

WHEN: This Monday, June 1, 2009 at 10:00 AM

WHERE: Franklin County Courthouse, 218 St. Clair St. in Frankford, KY

MORE INFO: Ed Hensley (plaintiff) through edwin.hensley@insightbb.com or Kate Miller of the Kentucky ACLU (kater@aclu-ky.org .

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

**

GOVERNMENT MOVES TO DISMISS ATHEIST LAWSUIT OVER
GOD PROMOTION AT HOMELAND SECURITY
Does “God” Protect Kentucky From Terrorists?
Hearing to Dismiss, demo Set For Monday!

Does the Bluegrass State of Kentucky enjoy God’s special protection
against terrorism?

Some people, including the legislature and the State Office of
Homeland Security think that it does; and they proclaimed their
belief in a post-911 statute to that effect. Indeed, the 2002
law has the deity fighting alongside policy, fire departments, the
National Guard of Kentucky and other first responders. It declares,
in part:

1) The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security shall be attached to
the Office of the Governor and shall be headed by an executive
director appointed by the Governor.

2) The executive director shall:

a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the
dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of
the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3)
in its agency training and educational materials. The executive
director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a
permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations
Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3)

That text pompously declares that the General Assembly “finds that:
The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved
apart from the 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.’ “

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists took
action along with several plaintiffs, and in December of 2008 filed
suit to have the Kentucky statute declared unconstitutional.

“It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly
unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever
seen,” Kagin told reporters. Democratic State Rep. Tom Riner,
however, who happened to also be an ordained Baptist minister from
Louisville and the architect of the controversial law, disagreed.

Echoing the rationale in the Kentucky statute, he declared, “No
government by itself can guarantee perfect security,” he said.
“There will always be this opposition to the acknowledgement of
divine providence, but this is a foundational understanding of
what American is.” Riner also described the Atheist lawsuit as
“frivolous” and “an attempt to censor and suppress the publication
of a key law that acknowledges divine providence.”

Fox also quoted Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, who
said that despite the heightened religious climate in post-911
America, Kentucky was the only state trying to enlist the deity
in the formidable task of homeland security. “I’m not aware of
any other state or Commonwealth that is trying to dump their clear
responsibility for protecting their citizens onto God or any other
mythological creature,” Buckner said.

Kentucky has a long record of problems involving unconstitutional
efforts to promote sectarian religion. Many involve the display of
the Ten Commandments on public property, and in one decision the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state in two cases involving
nativity creches on courthouse property. Rev. Riner’s wife Claudia,
served in the state legislature and in 1979 sponsored a bill
mandating display of the Commandments in all public school classroom.
That led to another lawsuit, and in STONE v. GRAHAM, the Supreme
Court found the practice blatantly unconstitutional. Ironically,
that case is now part of the legal record and is cited in the
American Atheist lawsuit.

Mr. Kagin says that the Kentucky statute “is facially volatile”
of the Constitution, adding that “The challenged laws unlawfully
attempt … ot establish religion, endorse belief over non-belief,
set up a religious test, indoctrinate Kentucky citizens and state
employees in this theistic religious belief, and diminish the civil
rights, privileges, or capacities of Atheists and others who do not
believe in a god, or who believe in a different god or gods than
the presumed supernatural entity unconstitutionally endorsed by the
legislature … The challenged laws are grossly, and outrageously
, at variance with the Constitutions of the United States and of
Kentucky, and are retrograde to the very purposes of protecting
American freedoms for which the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security
was established.”

On Monday, June 1, the State of Kentucky will be in court presenting
a Motion to have the American Atheists complaint dismissed.
The hearing begins at 10:00 AM, at the Franklin County Courthouse
in Frankfort, KY. Outside, supporters of American Atheists,
state-church separation and civil liberties will hold a peaceful
rally supporting the lawsuit.

The full text of the AA complaint can be found at:

http://www.atheists.org/upload/aavky.pdf

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