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Forum Post: A Year in Jail for Not Believing in God? How Kentucky is Persecuting Atheists

Posted 2 years ago on Nov. 25, 2012, 1:49 p.m. EST by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR
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A Year in Jail for Not Believing in God? How Kentucky is Persecuting Atheists 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.

[OK ~ Let's have a Norquist Pledge to keep ALL Religion OUT of Government!!!!]

November 21, 2012 |

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 and its sponsor, state representative Tom Riner, have been the subject of controversy since the law first surfaced in 2006, yet the Kentucky state Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality, despite clearly violating the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.

"This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin Kagin, the legal director of American Atheists', a national organization focused defending the civil rights of atheists. American Atheists’ launched a lawsuit against the law in 2008, which won at the Circuit Court level, but was then overturned by the state Court of Appeals.

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--and carries a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply. 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 told The New York Times shortly after the law was first challenged in court. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

A practicing Baptist minister, Riner is solely devoted to his faith--even when that directly conflicts with his job as state representative. He has often been at the center of unconstitutional and expensive controversies throughout his 26 years in office. In the last ten years, for example, the state has spent more than $160,000 in string of losing court cases against the American Civil Liberties Union over the state’s decision to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings, legislation that Riner sponsored.

Although the Kentucky courts have yet to strike down the law, some judges have been explicit about its unconstitutionality.

"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.

This rational was in the minority, however, as the Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts’ decision that the law was unconstitutional.

Last week, American Atheists submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law.

Riner, meanwhile, continues to abuse the state representative’s office, turning it into a pulpit for his God-fearing message.

"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 said.

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and activist in New York City.

37 Comments

37 Comments


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[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 2 years ago

state has spent more than $160,000 in string of losing court cases

Why does everything have to be learned the hard way?

[-] 2 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

It's no accident!

Religion keeps the poor from killing the rich!

...and muddles issues and governance with beliefs over reason, facts and science!!

ENOUGH!!!

[-] 1 points by grapes (3444) 2 years ago

Does religiosity correlate strongly and positively with wealth inequality? What are the evidences?

[-] 0 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

Death Row inmates have a high rate of finding religion. For many, poverty is a death sentence, for the rest it's adversity. People seek solace from adversity any way they can. Suicide is increasing.

[-] 0 points by grapes (3444) 1 year ago

Indians are very religious and poor so Death Row inmates scenario fits but there are seemingly glaring exceptions, such as the U.S. and Middle Eastern oil countries. Perhaps these are simply countries which only become well off recently. The U.S. is an anomaly as a rather religious country that is well off and surprisingly secular in other respects. Perhaps it is a holdover from the states being sovereigns first before they decided to form the federal government to further the common welfare.

India has the caste system and religions that seemed to have stabilized the country for a long time but it may also have been the millstone around the neck of rapid development. This is not to say that I am favoring economic competition with "Death Row inmates" of India. The U.S. population will surely lose.

[-] 0 points by Coyote88 (-24) 2 years ago

So you want the poor to kill the rich? And the only thing stopping them is religious belief?

[-] 1 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

Probably shouldn't waste the protein, eat 'em!

Tyrants have used religion to control their victim subjects since the dawn of civilization. What are you, 10?

[-] 0 points by Coyote88 (-24) 2 years ago

I'd say with that answer you are the immature one.

[-] 0 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

ouch, sorry

[-] -1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Jesus freaks!

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 2 years ago

Look at how much Governor Scott has wasted on unconstitutional crap or Maricopa County has spent because of clowns such as Joe A.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

I believe you. can't say I am familiar with that waste or Joe A.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 2 years ago

It all boils down to the constitutional violations either state or those federal rights that have been incorporated.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

ok. cool.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (22325) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

We are already supposed to have separation of church and state. So - WTF ? Are they gonna give equal time to Buddha? Will they be going multi-denominational - or will this be another segregationist thing?

[-] 1 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

Religion soothes the angry savages.

[-] 0 points by factsrfun (5911) from Phoenix, AZ 2 years ago

if people stopped believing in religion they might start believing in morality, that could be dangerous for some, given the state of things

[-] 1 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

If third parties are unelectable, try running as an atheist!

[-] -1 points by LeoYo (5909) 2 years ago

Man Arrested After Telling Kids Santa Isn't Real

By Alyssa Newcomb | ABC News Blogs – 1 hr 57 mins ago

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/man-arrested-telling-kids-santa-isnt-real-181019373--abc-news-topstories.html

A real-life Grinch was arrested after he spoiled the holiday cheer at a parade, telling children that Santa isn't real.

The unidentified 24-year-old man, who had his hair gelled to look as though devil horns were protruding from his head, was arrested by police in the Canadian town of Kingston last week during the annual Santa Claus parade, authorities said in statement.

The St. Nicholas naysayer faces criminal charges of causing a disturbance by being drunk and breach of probation.

"It was pretty despicable that someone, during this time of the year, would tell kids Santa isn't real - which of course we would argue," Const. Steve Koopman told the Toronto Star.

It was not known how the man, who has surely landed on Santa's naughty list, pleaded to the charges.


Now, what would Jesus do if children were brought to him and asked him about Santa Claus? Would the parents approve of their lord and savior's answer to their little children? Now, what if a sober man had portrayed himself as Jesus and told the children the truth while delivering a sermon on honesty? Would the parents tell their children "Don't listen to him, he's not the real Jesus." as the police cuff him and take him away? And if the children then asked their parents "Well, what would the real Jesus say?", what would the parents then tell their children in Jesus' name?

Just wondering.

As for the Blue Grass state, just as there are paranoid people protesting the establishment of imaginary Sharia law in the U.S., those very same people should be protesting the very real threat of Kanon law being established in the U.S. But of course, it's not religious laws that are a problem for such people. On the contrary, it's not having THEIR religious laws established that's a problem for them.

[-] 0 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

Good stuff!!

What does Grover Norquist have to say about all this, anyway??

[-] -3 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

But isn't religion fake also?

[-] 0 points by Coyote88 (-24) 2 years ago

Buddhism is fake. Okay, how?

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

I am unfamiliar with Buddhism. Do they believe in an invisible, all knowing, old man in the sky with superpowers?

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 2 years ago

They believe in continual rebirth or reincarnation until a person can neutralize all of their accumulated negative karma and free themselves from the pain of repeated lives through self-annihilation.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

i see. How interesting.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

True Buddhism is not a religion. I am referring to the original Theravada school of Buddhism which the Buddha himself taught. It is a path of self-enlightenment by following specific disciplines that include the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. God is not really in the equation in original Buddhism. It is more along the lines of "follow the doctor's (Budda's) orders and heal yourself from the disease of universal suffering".

I am not a Buddhist, but I have studied it. Good book recommendation is "What the Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Thanks. I'll look for it. Sounds as if the east has a better approach (as always) to religion/spirituality.

[-] 0 points by Coyote88 (-24) 2 years ago

Perhaps since you don't know what you are talking about you should cease insulting religion. Just a suggestion.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Fuck you. I know enough to say that bronze age fairy tales are no way to live a life you imbecile.

[Deleted]

[-] -3 points by LeoYo (5909) 2 years ago

Only the one's based on a spirit-based worldview.

[-] -2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

ok. thx.

[-] -1 points by richardkentgates (3269) from Fort Walton Beach, FL 2 years ago

If the rest of the world is supposed to keep a cap on Islam, I think it's high time we started checking Christians here in the US. It's beginning to look a lot more each day that only a Mubarak moment will force our rights to be upheld. We allow our rights and our money to be trampled and stolen and we do nothing. There is no more law enforcement, no more court system, they no longer work for the people.

[-] 0 points by Clancy (42) 2 years ago

What do you mean by "checking" Christians.

[-] -1 points by richardkentgates (3269) from Fort Walton Beach, FL 2 years ago

Keeping them out of government as implied in the first amendment. As we expect from the countries the US criticizes for not doing so.

[-] 1 points by Clancy (42) 1 year ago

So are you saying that Christians should not be allowed to be in government positions

[-] -2 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

Technically, maybe we can just table the religion thing for now.

[-] -3 points by WSmith (1377) from Cornelius, OR 2 years ago

That's right! No Religion!!