Church and state and DHS E-mail
Written by Jose Torres   

Does the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantee freedom of religion or freedom from religion? Some say both, others say one or the other while others say neither. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear— in Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God or risk 12 months in prison.

The law states, "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.'"

The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God be installed outside the state Homeland Security building.

Should one fail to comply with the law they could face a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail.

The plaque’s inscription begins with the assertion, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

Tom Riner, a Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state representative, sponsored the law.

“The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Riner said to New York Times reporters after the law was challenged in court. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

Although the Kentucky courts have yet to strike down the law, some judges have hinted that it’s likely not to survive a rigorous challenge in court.

"Kentucky's law is a legislative finding, avowed as factual, that the Commonwealth is not safe absent reliance on Almighty God.

Further, the law places a duty upon the executive director to publicize the assertion while stressing to the public that dependence upon Almighty God is vital, or necessary, in assuring the safety of the commonwealth,” wrote Judge Ann O'Malley Shake in Court of Appeals’ dissenting opinion.

Riner has used the opportunity to promote his personal faith.

"The safety and security of the state cannot be achieved apart from recognizing our dependence upon God," Riner recently t old Fox News.

"We believe dependence on God is essential. What the founding fathers stated and what every president has stated, is their reliance and recognition of Almighty God, that's what we're doing," he


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