Kentucky lawmakers, the Governor, and Attorney General demand the protection of God in Homeland SecurityOct 3rd, 2010 | By News Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org | Category: Kentucky Guardian News, Kentucky Political News
When the Kentucky Department of Homeland Security (now the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security) was established, Representative Tom Riner (D-Louisville) had legislation passed that stated the security of the Commonwealth “cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God.”
2002: “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’.”
2006: “Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3).
However, in 2009 Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that it violated Section IV of the Kentucky Constitution, as well as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which ensures protection against the establishment of a state religion.
If you thought the First Amendment to the United States Constitution continues to be a source of hot debate today, it was nearly defeated when Massachusetts and North Carolina refused to ratify it. New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York also objected to some of the language, which was ultimately changed. In addition, Articles III to XII of the First Amendment were completely rejected by the states and did not become part of the U.S. Constitution.
In March 2010 the Kentucky House of Representatives passed Resolution 232 imposing Christian principals on the citizens of the Commonwealth; the Resolution was not sent to the Kentucky Senate for concurrence. (previous story)
The current mission statement of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security reads: “Lead the Commonwealth’s coordination and collaboration efforts with public and private preparedness partners to ensure a Ready and Prepared Kentucky.”
In addition to the Governor and the Attorney General, nearly every Kentucky lawmaker, including Senate President David Williams (R), House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) and the entire leadership of both houses of the General Assembly, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the laws, which require the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge dependence on God for the state’s safety.
The case is now pending before the Kentucky Court of Appeals after Attorney General Jack Conway (D), appealed the 2009 ruling striking down the law.
Conway’s office argued that America’s founders never intended an absolute bar to government religious expression and that the Homeland Security laws echoed such things as the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
In addition, the Courier-Journal reports:
In one brief filed in the case, 96 of the state’s 100 state representatives assert, among other arguments, that the laws are in keeping with historic U.S. Supreme Court cases declaring America to be a “Christian nation.”
A second brief was filed by 35 of the 38 state senators, whose lawyers include former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore — who was removed from office in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his state’s judicial building.
That brief argues for ignoring decades’ of U.S. Supreme Court case law setting up criteria for weighing church-state relations. Instead, it urges the appeals court to interpret the First Amendment’s ban on congressional “establishment of religion” narrowly — as prohibiting only an official national church.
Representative Jim Wayne, a Louisville Democrat and one of only seven legislators who refused to join in briefs defending the laws, said he found them offensive both on governmental and religious grounds.
In addition to Wayne, the only legislators whose names do not appear on the briefs are Senators Perry Clark and Gerald Neal of Louisville and Kathy Stein of Lexington and Representatives Joni Jenkins and Mary Lou Marzian of Louisville and Kelly Flood of Lexington. All are Democrats.
Ultimately, this case is likely to reach the Kentucky Supreme Court.
None of Kentucky’s gay rights groups have objected to their elected officials appealing the decision. Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Marriage Equality Kentucky, Louisville Fairness Campaign, and Lexington Fairness have remained silent.
Regardless of any U.S. Constitutional Amendment, Section IV of the Commonwealth’s Constitution would still seem to apply:
No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.