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Feb 13 2013

Mighty fine lawyers down there in Kentucky

The Kentucky office of Homeland Security is being sued by American Atheists and others for the absurdity of a statement on a plaque and their training materials that the “safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God” — that statement just fills you with confidence in their competence, doesn’t it? Splattering an official document with testimonials to your failure to cope except by closing your eyes and praying is not something I want to see from people responsible for my security.

The state Attorney General has responded, and no, I am not reassured or confident that we’re dealing with grown-ups anymore. The gist of his arguments that this is not a problem of church-state separation is that:

  1. Denial! State security has a secular purpose, so this isn’t really a religious claim.

  2. Evasion! They aren’t making anyone swear an oath, so it’s OK.

  3. Contradiction! While there may be a mingling of religion and government (? See statement 1), you can assess the statute while pretending it doesn’t have a religious component.

That’s in a petition to the Supreme Court defending the right to rely on their god. I’d say it doesn’t have a chance, except…SCALIAAAA!

18 comments

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  1. 1
    thisisaturingtest

    Ed Brayton has a pretty good all-purpose response to the “this isn’t really a religious claim” argument that I think fits well here; suppose the clause read “safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God Allah” — would that change get them to understand that, yes, it is a religious claim?
    As with so many other exercises of religious rights, what they’re really doing is assuming a privilege.

  2. 2
    raven

    “safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God”

    Oddly enough, when the US armed forces go into battle, they tend to rely on weapons of various sorts.

  3. 3
    logicpriest

    Jesus isn’t religion, he is “historical.” And some such.

  4. 4
    logicpriest

    Also, goddammit Kentucky! I am from that hellhole backwater creationist museum spawning state :(

  5. 5
    Marcus Ranum

    Funny that they didn’t put “Insha’Allah” on their plaque, instead. Since it’s secular and all that, and not about any particular god.

  6. 6
    Glen Davidson

    Well, if they can come up with sufficient evidence of that statement, I think it should stand.

    Otherwise, it’s just religious in nature, like “design” without evidence is.

    Lean on the IDiots in Seattle to do something meaningful for once.

    Glen Davidson

  7. 7
    robro

    I’d say it doesn’t have a chance, except…SCALIAAAA!

    And don’t forget Scalia2.0, he who does not speak.

    Jesus isn’t religion, he is “historical.” And some such.

    Perhaps a better argument for them would be that it’s all a fiction, so it doesn’t matter. Of course, if that were the case they could just as easily rely on any appropriate novel to achieve the safety and security of Kentucky.

  8. 8
    Jackie the wacky

    Logicpriest, I know that feel.

    I want out. I’ve never liked it here, but Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul? Just…no.

  9. 9
    Eamon Knight

    @2: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition?

  10. 10
    prfesser

    As a Kentucky resident, one thing that really bothers me most about this sort of nonsense is the fact that the powers-that-be will use up time (and state tax dollars) defending this ludicrously-religious phrase. Which will end up in File 13 if it ever gets to the SCOTUS.

    Then, of course…. try, try again. Irresponsible.

  11. 11
    logicpriest

    @jackiepaper

    Oh I escaped. To North Carolina, where they are legislating the sea level rise…

    But then I ESCAPED AGAIN!

    But my extended family still lives in KY, and when I talk to them I see the level of propaganda in that state. My family members actually thought Obamacare had death panels. I escaped well before Rand Paul…

  12. 12
    Jackie the wacky

    Logicpriest,

    Yeah, it’s pretty creepy here. Congratulations on your escapes.

  13. 13
    Rey Fox

    Here come the atheists, just gotta make a big deal outta everything, right? See, what really galls me is that to be in compliance with the First Amendment and the separation of church and state is so EASY. Just do your damn job and keep God in the churches. The fact that they can’t seem to obey this simple requirement just proves that they’re out to grab power and ostracize the Others. Related question: how does one live like that?

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    Jesus isn’t religion, he is “historical.” And some such.

    the some such being:

    …and Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion!

    tides come in, tides go out…

  15. 15
    thisisaturingtest

    @#13, Rey Fox:
    Living in Mississippi (a lonely place for an atheist), that’s the argument I get a lot- “Why must you atheists always make such a big deal out of what is clearly only ceremonial deism?” (Only, being Mississippi, it comes out more like, “Dayum! Why in tarnation do you damn godless heathens gotta make such a big deal outta nuthin?!?!? Huh?”)
    To which the obvious response is, if putting him (sorry, Him) in is no big deal, why is taking him out?

  16. 16
    throwaway

    Hooray for fellow Kentuckians! Also, hooray for Gatewood Galbraith! I assume that’s the mighty fine lawyer PZ is referring to? [reads the article] Oh, fucks sake…

  17. 17
    shockna

    So was the “publicly acknowledge it or go to jail” component taken out?

    I seem to remember this being covered here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/kagin/2012/11/24/american-atheists-ask-u-s-supreme-court-to-reverse-kentucky-law-believe-in-almighty-god/

    Unless this is a separate issue with almost identical wording. >_>

  18. 18
    ck

    My family members actually thought Obamacare had death panels.

    It’s funny since private insurance often had something that was functionally a “death panel” before “Obamacare”. It involved increased scrutiny of your health record if you started costing the company a lot of money, looking for something that would justify cutting you off under the guise of a “preexisting condition”. But, I suppose that’s different. If the private sector has “death panels” that decide you’re not worth healing because it’ll cost too much, that’s just good business practices. If the government has make-believe “death panels”, it’s proof that Obama is a FASCIST NAZI COMMUNIST!

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