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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Atheists Challenge Kentucky Security Law

FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) - In response to religious terrorists' Sept. 11 attacks, Kentucky enacted a law that orders the state Office of Homeland Security to "publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing that dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth, " a statement which must be on "prominent display" at the state's Emergency Operations Center. The law violates the doctrine of church-state separation, says American Atheists Inc. in State Court.

The Legislature violated the Constitution too, in its Findings for the law, declaring: "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," American Atheists say. Their complaint in Franklin County Court cites "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."'"

The Law and Findings also violate the Kentucky Constitution, the atheists say.

American Atheists is a nonprofit based in New Jersey dedicated to "defense of the civil liberties of atheists, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion."

The 10 named plaintiffs who joined the corporation as plaintiffs say the group has more members in Kentucky, who "for fear of obloquy, discrimination, and retaliation are disinclined to be named as plaintiffs in this action."

The complaint adds that all of the plaintiffs have suffered "damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged laws. Named plaintiffs have suffered somatic discomforts, and mental pain and anguish, from the knowledge that they are made to feed officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who share the belief in a god that is required by the challenged statute.

Plaintiffs also suffer anxiety from the belief that the existence of these unconstitutional laws suggest that their very safety as residents of Kentucky may be in the hands of fanatics, traitors, or fools."

They want the challenged laws - KRS 39G.010 and KRS39!.285 - declared unconstitutional, plus costs and fees. They are represented by Edwin Kagin of Union, Ky., national legal director of American Atheists.

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