FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Kentucky has a right to legislate a government reliance on God for safety and security, a state prosecutor argued Thursday before a Kentucky appeals court.
American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin, whose group advocates for the complete separation of church and state, argued laws pointing to God are part of an attempt to create a "theocracy."
The sides are appealing a trial court judge's 2009 ruling that a state homeland security law "created an official government position on God" in violation of the Kentucky and U.S. constitutions.
Special Assistant Attorney General Tad Thomas argued Thursday the United States had two centuries of precedents saying governments had a right to refer to God in their documents.
"Since George Washington, every president in their inaugural speech referenced a deity to help assist and protect the nation," Thomas said.
The national motto, "In God We Trust," and the Declaration of Independence's affirmation that people "are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights" also point to U.S. support of God's protection, he said.
Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in 2009 the 2006 homeland security provisions -- which require the department's executive director to publicize a "dependence on Almighty God" in agency training and educational materials and on a permanent plaque -- went far beyond general references to the deity in the national motto, The Courier-Journal reported.
Kagin argued: "What if it said, 'apart from reliance on the Flying Spaghetti Monster?' Then we would realize it's improper."