As set forth

Teresa MacBain tells us about a disturbing law in Kentucky.

On August 17, 2012, the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to hear a motion for discretionary review, brought by American Atheists and local plaintiffs, to a state law that makes it mandatory that the Commonwealth and its citizens give credit to Almighty God for its safety and security.  This request was denied in a single line that said that the “…Petition for Discretionary Review is denied.”  Signed, Chief Justice, Kentucky Supreme Court. 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 AbrahamLincoln’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.’”

How farking crazy is that? “As set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents” – what, because US presidents have the magical ability to create reality with their public speeches and proclamations? What they say becomes True as soon as they say it, because they say it?

I hope American Atheists and local plaintiffs win.


  1. says

    I’m on the AA email list, so I saw something about this recently.

    It seems like a hard lawsuit to fight — are there any actual penalties spelled out in the law? Could you get arrested for standing on the state house steps with signs reading “WE DON’T TRUST GOD!” or “KENTUCKY IS PROTECTED BY THE POLICE, NOT JESUS”? (And I’m moderately sure that any such prosecution would not survive a freedom of speech/religion challenge).

    If not, then it’s just a symbolic utterance by the legislature — stupid, annoying, and reflecting religious privilege — but fighting it seems correspondingly like tilting at windmills. Doesn’t a plaintiff have to show material harm? (IANAL)

  2. notsont says

    The problem with laws like this are that they only become actively dangerous when the balance of power shifts in the wrong direction. Consider this law 10 years after a Romney victory 6 or 7 supreme court justices all being Hard liner religious nuts, would it then suddenly not be a lot more scary.

    Sure Romney lost but the future is a big place, leaving laws like this in place is dangerous

  3. anthrosciguy says

    It should be clear by now that these sorts of rightwing Christian laws and proclamations are not something where they get a little taste and stop. It’s easier to, in the words of Barney Fife, nip it in the bud.

  4. 'dirigible says

    “Doesn’t a plaintiff have to show material harm?”

    Now imagine a law that mandates people must not give thanks to God.

  5. says

    I’ve read the linked press release, and it says you can be imprisoned for up to 12 months over this, without giving details (except it has something to do with Homeland Security, which is a black hole of crazy all by itself). But it doesn’t say how that actually works. Again: what does one have to actually *do* to get arrested and convicted?

    I’m not saying it’s not worth fighting — it’s noxious, even as a pious dead-letter — but where is the actual legal point of purchase? I’m trying to understand.

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