Last year we wrote about a provision inserted into legislation by Kentucky State Rep. Tom Riner requiring the state’s Office of Homeland Security to openly and repeatedly stress “the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth” and thank God for keeping the state safe. The provision has now been ruled unconstitutional:
A judge on Wednesday struck down a 2006 state law that required the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to stress “dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the commonwealth.”
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that the law violated the First Amendment’s protection against the establishment of a state religion. Homeland Security officials have been required for three years to credit “Almighty God” in their official reports and post a plaque with similar language at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort.
“Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God by choice for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now,” Wingate wrote.
“This is the very reason the Establishment Clause was created: to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority,” he wrote. “The commonwealth’s history does not exclude God from the statutes, but it had never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God.”
State Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, a Southern Baptist minister, placed the “Almighty God” language into a homeland security bill without much notice.
Riner said Wednesday that he is unhappy with the judge’s ruling. The way he wrote the law, he said, it did not mandate that Kentuckians depend on God for their safety, it simply acknowledged that government without God cannot protect its citizens.
“The decision would have shocked and disappointed Thomas Jefferson, who penned the words that the General Assembly paraphrased in this legislation,” Riner said.