Judge strikes down 'God' language in law

Aug. 27, 2009 at 12:31 PM
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FRANKFORT, Ky., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A circuit judge in Kentucky has declared a reference to God in a 2006 state law is unconstitutional.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said state lawmakers created an official government position when it pass a law requiring the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to recognize that "dependence on Almighty God" was vital to the state's security, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported Thursday.

In addition, the law requires the office's executive director to include a statement asserting the state's reliance on God in training materials and on a plaque at the state's Emergency Operations Center.

Wingate said the religious reference violated the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions, which bar the government from establishing an official religion.

"We are just thrilled about it," said Edwin Kagin, the attorney who represented the 10 Kentuckians and the national American Atheists Inc., who filed the lawsuit. "Maybe people will think twice now before trying to impose their religious beliefs in Kentucky."

State Attorney General Jack Conway, who defended the state in the suit, said he hasn't decided whether he would appeal the decision, The Courier-Journal said.

In his ruling, Wingate said the provision likely would have been permissible if it only allowed Homeland Security officials to seek God's help in protecting Kentucky. The Bluegrass State hasn't excluded God from its statutes, he wrote, "but it has never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God."

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