Sunday, August 30, 2009
First mistake: a belated five years after the events of September 11, 2001, some genius thought it would be a great idea to start a separate State Department of Homeland Security just for Kentucky. Never mind that the Federal one already covers Kentucky's less-than-urgent counter-terrorism needs just fine already.
Second mistake: Two amendments to the statute that created this unnecessary branch of an already unnecessary organization were worded by state Rep. Tom Riner (pictured below), a Democrat representing Louisville. Rep. Riner is also reportedly a pastor at Kings Baptist Church in Taylorsville. Riner inserted language that required all training materials to stress "dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth", and to require a plaque be erected at the Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort that reads, in part, "the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God".
Unlike the whole Ten Commandments in Jackson County squabble, at least Riner's religious meddling only referred to "God" in general, and didn't specify any particular God of any particular faith. But something tells me he wasn't thinking of Ishtar or Buddha or Isis or Allah or Jah or J.R. "Bob" Dobbs or Tengri or Marduk or Vishnu or Wotan or Minerva or Baal or Choronzon or the 8th Dynamic or The Four Heavenly Kings or Sai Baba or Hannahannah or Aurvandil or Krampus or Saraswati or Ra or John Frum or The Servers of All (sort of the "Super Friends" of spirituality). And I'm 95 percent positive he wasn't thinking of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.
Furthermore, there are millions of people, especially in Judaic traditions, who find it to some degree improper to spell out the word "God" itself on a publicly mounted plaque such as Riner's mandated one. For many, "G-d" is the preferred nomenclature for committing the creator's name into permanent form. (And I beg their indulgence for my relative misusage here, although recent rabbinical decisions have approved the typing of the word into computers.)
Anyway. Ten Kentucky citizens, joined by the American Atheists, have won their lawsuit over the religious terminology that was bullied in by Riner. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate stated in his decision: "The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now, nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God. Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now".
As I've already commented here, I have a very low opinion of atheists, and I find Wingate's ruling to be a victory for freedom and common sense, not for atheism. And this still doesn't make me a member of the Judge Wingate fan club: he's the one who tried to push Gov. Beshear's kook scheme to seize non-Kentucky casino websites for breaking Kentucky laws, which is a little like trying to prosecute British people for driving on the wrong side of the road.
Read more about all this silliness here and here and here.