A lot of people give atheists a hard time because, to them, we seem to fight ridiculous battles. I have heard so many people bitch about having to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” you would think we just forced them to denounce Jesus. (On a side note, were atheists even the ones to push this? You would think it would be more respectful to all the people who follow OTHER religions than to atheists who generally could care less. Just a thought.)
My point is that atheists for the most part don’t care about these things. As a group, we are more like a herd of cats than a herd of sheep. You may be able to get us all together, but there is no way of knowing what we will do since individuality rules over group mentality.
Now that being said, we do tend to get peeved when groups of people try to force their religion on the nation. This is mainly because we know that this country is SECULAR. We also know that the importance in separating church and state is more than a matter of ten commandment plaques in public parks. The only reason these things get taken to court is to remind Christians about them as well. They’ve been running things unimpeded for so long that they just can’t seem to grasp the concept that we (everyone else) have just as many rights as they do.
This post was supposed to be about a 2006 Homeland Security law in Kentucky but since they are now being sued for this, I wanted to make sure everyone fully understood why it seems like atheists are sue crazy.
On to the law…
The law lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth." Not only that, but they must publicize God's benevolent protection in their reports. They also have to have 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." 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.
Just so we are clear, this is a government office that gets about twenty eight million tax payer dollars.
State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, is the one who tucked the God provision as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved of two years ago. "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."
This is also a reflection of the Bush administration that this seemed acceptable to lawmakers at the time. I can only hope it doesn’t continue, but like Anderson Cooper once said, hope is not a plan.
So in step the atheists.
American Atheists Inc. sued in state court over the law "It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin Kagin, national legal director of American Atheists Inc. in New Jersey. The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions.
Who knows what’s going to happen. You win some you lose some, but I have a feeling there is a lot more to come about this issue. I can’t begin to fathom a way American Atheists Inc. will lose but you never know. I did think it was interesting that there is no reference to God in Homeland Security's current mission statement or on its Web site. It seems someone did know better.
Of course not all lawmakers agree. This time we got state Sen. Kathy Stein on our side. She said Homeland Security should worry more about public safety threats instead of preaching religious homilies.
"It's very sad to me that we do this sort of thing," said Stein, a frequent critic of efforts to mix religion and government. "It takes away from the seriousness of the public discussion over security, and it clearly hurts the credibility of this office if it's supposed to be depending on God, first and foremost."