Clearly violating the First Amendment, the law first surfaced in 2006. Since then the law, its sponsor Tom Riner (a practicing Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state rep.), and the Kentucky state Supreme Court have refused to review the constitutionality of what became a 2008 homeland security law.
Currently everyone in Kentucky is potentially forced to assert that the safety of their state is dependent on “Almighty God” or face criminal charges, including up to 12 months in jail.
On November 13, 2012, American Atheists’ National Legal Director Edwin Kagin submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). American Atheists is asking SCOTUS to review the Kentucky Homeland Security law. The Circuit Court level ruled the law violated the First Amendment, but was reversed by the Kentucky state Court of Appeals.
The Kentucky Supreme Court refused to hear a motion for discretionary review 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 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.’”
You should also know…
Tom Riner is devoted to his faith even when that directly conflicts with his job as state rep. He has often been at the center of unconstitutional and expensive controversies throughout his 26 years in office. In the last ten years, Kentucky has spent more than $160,000 in string of losing court cases against the American Civil Liberties Union over the state’s decision to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings, legislation that Riner sponsored. One case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2005 that such displays inside courthouses in two counties were unconstitutional.
To go further…
Abraham Lincoln’s views on religion were complicated, growing up in a highly religious family, but never joining any church.
Kennedy’s Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church.
And even more info on American Atheist vs. Kentucky Homeland Security.