Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of the American Atheists in the Kenutcky Homeland Security lawsuit. The judge’s decision may be read here: http://files.meetup.com/12880/AA%20v%20KY%20Opinion%208-26%20copy.pdf
Attorney General Jack Conway must decide whether or not to appeal.
Since I am busy and dead tired, I will refer to this link from a Lexington Herald-Leader writer from which I will cut and paste a little bit: http://bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2009/08/26/judge-homeland-security-cant-require-dependence-on-god/.
“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.
I had to stop after that last quote from Riner. Jefferson “penned the words that the General Assembly paraphrased”!!! I have never read anything written by Jefferson that remotely resembles these phrases. And how could someone “pen” words that someone else “paraphrases”?
Judge Wingate did his homework. He quotes Benjamin Franklin from 1730, the Confederate Constitution (which mentions Almighty God), Freeman of Virginia in 1777, and many other documents. I think the most damning is a document published by the Southern Baptists, Northern Baptists, and the National Baptists in 1939. This document states
…a baptist must exercise himself to the utmost in the maintenance of absolute religious liberty for his Jewish neighbor, his Catholic neighbor, his protestant neighbor, and everybody else … Baptists condemn every form of compulsion or restraint of free consideration of the claims of religion.
This statement did not mentione state senator Tom Riner, the author of this bill, but it was a clear reference for something for him to consider. Riner is a Baptist minister. He and his wife have proposed bill after bill that have been ruled unconstitutional by multiple courts, including the Supreme Court. I hope that Riner will read the findings of this judge, including this statement from the Baptists in 1939, and realize how un-American and un-Baptist he has been.
Judge Wingate ruled that American Atheists did not have standing but that the individual plaintiffs did. This did not impact the final decision, but he had logic to back up this decision.
Here is another great quote:
Here, although the General Assembly’s action falls short of adopting an official state religion or church, it strongly endorses religious belief over the lack of such belief and adopts this belief as the official position of the Commonwealth. This is improper.
I hope that Riner and other legislators read this decision and learn from it.