Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Those Atheists Are at it Again

The Washington Post reported on the following story in Kentucky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A group of atheists filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky's Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can't keep the state safe without God's help.

The story explains that starting in 2006 the Office of Homeland Security is required to post a plaque that says the safety and security of the state "cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God" and to stress that fact through training and educational materials.

Now, I happen to agree with the spiritual sentiments expressed here, but I also agree with those who find it inappropriate. This is not centuries old traditional wording that has become part of the fabric of our society, Christmas greetings and statements like "In God We Trust" on the money, etc. This to me is an attempt by the religious right to force feed their beliefs on everyone else.

How do you see it?

Naturally it's not without extreme reactions. I love the way the religious guys take that attitude of righteous superiority while the atheists get mad.

"It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc. The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions.

State Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, said the preamble to the Kentucky constitution references a people "grateful to almighty God," so he said he sees no constitutional violation in enlisting God in the state's homeland security efforts.

"God help us if we don't," he said.

Which side do you lean towards? Leave us a comment.


  1. I'm reading a book where I found a neat quote. "I find it odd that somebody can be so insulted and afraid of something they don't believe in."

    This appears to be a ceremonial plaque, and essentially a non-issue, if they don't believe that God might help homeland security, shouldn't they be working harder to keep us all safe, rather than worrying about the letters on a plaque?

    While I would be agreeing if Homeland Security wasted resources with Prayers, or daily speeches by chaplains, or asked for religious affiliation on job applications.

    But a Plaque? This sounds like people whoring for attention.

  2. I find it odd that somebody can be so insulted and afraid of something they don't believe in

    where on earth did you get the notion that atheists are insulted by your god?!

    we're not. we're insulted by you. quit passively-aggressively hiding your insults behind pious god-talk, and maybe you'll quit confusing yourself about what exactly is the insulting bit.

  3. I was waiting with baited breath until you chimed in, Nomen.

    So let's hear it. How do you feel about this story, and do the ends justify the means, or is this fiasco a huge waste of public resouses for the sake of attention?

  4. It's not just a plaque. The statute establishes that praising God is the first duty of the state's Homeland Security Office. There are to be references to God's "benevolent protection" in all official reports and other materials of the office. I am not ok with a state law requiring a state agency to praise God as its first duty. I don't think one needs to be an atheist to see the problem with this.

  5. A very valid point, S. But I just re-read the article, and saw no references to any "Offical documents and meterials" just a plaque with a bible quote, nor anything about the agency praising a first duty, or otherwise.

    I don't nessisarily agree with the plaque or the people who are discussing its relevence (They have a point...just not one I agree with)

    But in all honesty I fail to see how this really makes a big impact in aything. This then leads me to think that the Athiests are being superficial attention whores.

  6. Weer'd, we're looking at different articles, which explains the different understandings. I'm going to see if I can find the actual statute to clarify what the specific requirements are.

    As for the atheists being "superficial attention whores" for filing this suit, well I think that might be some of the Nomen was complaining about. As a person who does believe in God, you're not worried about these subtle encroachments. But many of the people thinking the atheists should just shut up and not be offended would surely be up in arms if the exact same statute existed, but required praising Allah.

  7. this fiasco is indeed a huge waste of public resources, purely for the sake of attention.

    the guilty party is the state of Kentucky, wasting public resources on useless plaques that necessitate lawsuits (wasting more public resources litigating same) in order to keep our country secular and religiously neutral. i wish Kentucky wouldn't try to impose one particular religion on every one of its citizens this way, but they do, and so we must needs drag them kicking and screaming into the 1790's, wasteful as that is.

    and it's all for the sake of attracting attention to the moronic KY state politicians who pushed this issue, too. those plaques accomplish nothing else whatsofuckingever. take those same plaques, replace "god" with "the Flying Spaghetti Monster", and what would they accomplish? nothing but attracting attention to KY politicos, just as is the case now. a huge fucking waste.

    ah well, it's not as if this is in any way new. we'll smack their silly pee-pees in court and they'll go whining back to their priests for a while longer, before coming back to start it all over again with some other wasteful shit.

    want to know what the real harm in this is, weerd? it's that it makes religious discrimination seem legitimate and normal in the eyes of whoever isn't being hurt by it at the time. by marginalizing religious minorities --- and atheists too, of course --- this shit makes this shit seem like the ordinary state of affairs, and makes it that much harder to smack down the real theocrats when they come to do us serious, irreparable harm.

    and who's standing up to stop any of that shit? any of it, at all? well, there's us pesky, annoying, uppity old atheists. and... just about nobody else, actually.

  8. S,

    On the other side of the issue, as a Christian I'm tired of being told to keep my philosophy out of politics but atheism is an acceptable (according to some, the only acceptable) philosophy allowed in politics. Isn't that a double standard?

    I agree that the statute shouldn't have references to a religion or belief in it. I would have a problem if it was any religion, including my own.

  9. First, here's a link to an article from the Lexington Herald that appears to support the earlier article I had read that the requirement is far more than a plaque.

    "The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as 'stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.'"

    Bob, I'm not sure what you mean that atheism is the only acceptable political philosophy. I think an absence of religion in politics is the ideal. I guess I can see how that would come across as atheistic, but there really is a big difference between excluding everyone's various religious beliefs from the political arena and actively promoting that there is no god. Taking "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, for example, doesn't remove God from your life at all. You'd still be free to say it, just as I'm now free not to say it. The only difference would be whether Congress sanctioned the reference to god, or just stayed silent on that touchy subject.

  10. bob --- even though atheism is defined as the absence of religion, removing all religion from politics does not serve to make the political sphere atheistic. it serves to make it secular, which is a different thing.

    i'd have problems too if laws were made to further or spread atheism, or if politicians worked to de-convert their constituents and actively reduce the frequency of religious beliefs in society. i wouldn't want that any more than you'd want politicos to further your religion --- it's just that i have never seen such a thing happen, anywhere. but if i want to see politicians trying to spread and further religious beliefs, well, i need look no further than Kentucky --- today, anyway. tomorrow, who knows, it could be my state.

  11. S,

    This comment, carried to the extreme, is exactly what I mean:

    I think an absence of religion in politics is the ideal

    I have seen and read too many times of people saying Christians shouldn't run for office, shouldn't base any policies on their philosophies; only because those philosophies have a religious component.

    To me, it doesn't matter if you are Wiccan, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Flying Spaghetti Monster advocate, or atheist. Make your proposals, make the laws-just make sure they are constitutional, ethical and fair. I may disagree with what you propose but don't care how you came to propose it. I hope that makes sense.

  12. Bob-

    "To me, it doesn't matter if you are Wiccan, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Flying Spaghetti Monster advocate, or atheist. Make your proposals, make the laws-just make sure they are constitutional, ethical and fair. I may disagree with what you propose but don't care how you came to propose it. I hope that makes sense."

    What you wrote there is exactly the same, to me, as what I wrote about an "absence of religion."