It seems that, back in 2006, Kentucky State Rep. Tom Riner inserted a provision into Homeland Security legislation that required the state 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.
Apparently, under former Governor Ernie Fletcher, the office dutifully carried out this obligation but now Riner is upset that under current Governor Steve Beshear, the office isn’t praising and mentioning God as it is required to do so by law:
The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God’s benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”
State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.
As amended, Homeland Security’s religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.
The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.
“This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said. “Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government.”
Under previous Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a lay Baptist preacher, Homeland Security interpreted the law at face value, prominently crediting God in its annual reports to state leaders and posting the required plaque.
Under Gov. Steve Beshear, officials this week said they didn’t know about the plaque until the Herald-Leader called to ask whether it’s still there. (They checked; it is.) The 2008 Homeland Security report, issued a month ago, did not credit God, but it did complain about a decline in federal funding from Washington.
There is no reference to God in Homeland Security’s current mission statement or on its Web site, which displeases Riner.
“We certainly expect it to be there, of course,” Riner said.