The Kentucky state legislature passed a controversial homeland security law in 2006 that mandates its citizens to recognize safety cannot be achieved without the Almighty God — or face up to a year in prison.
American Atheists now wants to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the law.
State representative and Baptist minister Tom Riner sponsored the law, which has been a subject of debate since it passed. The Kentucky state Supreme Court, however, refuses to evaluate its constitutionality.
Edwin Kagin, legal director of American Atheists, has been challenging the court's lack of action since 2008.
“This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen,” Kagin said.
American Atheists is a national organization that fights for the civil liberties of atheists and “the total, absolute separation of government and religion,” according to its website. The organization won a lawsuit against the law in 2008 at the Circuit Court level, but that decision was overturned by the state Court of Appeals.
“The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Riner told The New York Times. Riner contends that his devotion to his faith takes precedence when it conflicts with his job as a state representative even when -- critics argue -- it infringes on other’s rights.
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 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.’”
The law also requires plaques declaring the power of the Almighty God be installed outside of the state’s Homeland Security building. The plaque’s inscription begins, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”