A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
A A N E W S
#1274 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 09/05/09
A Service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement that defends
civil rights for non-believers; works for the total separation of
Church and State; and addresses issues of First Amendment public
"ATHEIST is really a thoroughly honest, unambiguous term, it admits
of no paltering and no evasion, and the need of the world, now as
ever, is for clear-cut issues and unambiguous speech."
-- Chapman Cohen
In This Issue:
* State appeals Ky. Homeland Security Ruling --
Kagin, "Waste of Taxpayer Money!"
* Declare your intellectual independence, join American Atheists
* Worth Noting -- Jindal & Church Politicking: It's Our Money!
* Dave's Blog
* About this list...
KENTUCKY TO APPEAL RULING AGAINST HOMELAND SECURITY
GOD PROMOTION PLAQUE, PROGRAMS
KAGIN: "REGRETTABLE" WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY
, Ready For Supreme Court If Necessary
The State of Kentucky announced Friday that it would appeal
a court ruling that struck down legislation requiring the
Commonwealth's Homeland Security Office to display a religious
plaque and incorporate "dependence on God" in its training
Two statutes, passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001
faith-based terrorist attacks, were challenged by American Atheists
and a cohort of plaintiffs who maintained that they violated
key portions of both the U.S. Constitution and the Kentucky
Constitution's prohibition about establishing religion.
The hastily passed bills mandated that the new department "publicize
the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on
Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."
Another statute called upon the Director of the new office to
promote the religious message, and prominently display the plaque
"at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center..."
The text of the statue declared:
(1) No government by itself can guarantee perfect security from
acts of war or terrorism.
(2) The security and well-being of the public depend not just on
government, but rest in large measure upon individual citizens
of the Commonwealth and their level of understanding, preparation
(3) The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved
apart from reliance on Almighty God as set forth in the public
speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham
Lincoln's historic March 30, 1863 Proclamation urging Americans to
pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours of 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.' "
Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists took
the issue to court. The Kentucky Attorney General promptly
filed for a motion to dismiss, and disingenuously argued that the
statutes honored god and had little or nothing to do with religion.
On August 26, however Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate denied
the Commonwealth's request, and made a summary judgment in favor of
the plaintiffs. Wingate opined that the statutes clearly established
religion, and said that while the legislature had broad authority, in
the case of the two statutes, "the secular purpose has to be genuine,
not a sham and not merely secondary to a religious objective."
Despite the 17-page rebuke of the Commonwealth's arguments,
though, the Attorney General's office decided to appeal at public
expense. Mr. Kagin called the move "regrettable," and told reporters:
"I would not be at all uncomfortable taking the facts of this case
before the U.S. Supreme Court. I think the statue is so blatantly
unconstitutional that any court would find it unconstitutional."
Shelly Johnson of the state's Attorney General office declared:
"We believe there is a clear distinction in the law between
acknowledgement of religion, which has been permitted for years,
and the establishment of religion, which is prohibited by the
Constitution. The statute in question merely acknowledges religion
and should have been upheld by the court."
Associated Press writer Roger Alford noted the importance of the
case. "States in the Bible Belt such as Kentucky, cannot afford to
concede this court battle, even when legal grounds are shaky..."
Western Kentucky University political science professor Scott Lasley
concurred, noting the partisan electoral aspects of the case.
He observed that Attorney General Jack Conway is seeking the
Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in the 2010 race.
"The reality of the situation is that for most attorneys general
that (not challenging the court ruling) would be the end of their
political careers. It's just the reality of the situation, given
the political environment you're operating in."
CELEBRATE YOUR INTELLECTUAL INDEPENDENCE! JOIN
AMERICAN ATHEISTS AT OUR NEW, LOW RATE
Here's a "stimulus package" for Atheists! We know that times are
difficult. Nonbelievers are like everyone else in the country
--you can get laid off or put on part-time, you can see important
investment and home value evaporate. And many people are cutting
costs, postponing vacations, cutting back whenever and wherever
So, American Atheists is making it easier than ever before to join
up in the fight for Reason, separation of church and state, and
the effort to give America's unbelieving community "a place at the
table" in the discussion over First Amendment public policy. You
can join American Atheists for only $20 per year; you receive the
American Atheist Magazine, a leading journal for news and opinion;
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absolute separation of church and state! Membership is open to all
who agree with our Statement of Aims and Purposes. Joining American
Atheists, though, also has it rewards! Benefits and Privileges of
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Members of American Atheists benefit from our Savings Partners
program of discounts on goods and services from both local and
national businesses. And there's a special gift waiting for you when
you join American Atheists! By joining American Atheists, you're
making a major contribution in helping to protect civil liberties
for Atheists, and preserve Jefferson's "wall of separation" between
government and religion. Let us hear from you today!
The Most Exalted Star Wars Religious Art In The Universe "Star
Wars is a religious experience for many of us, whether or not we
actually feel the Force. But some artists take it even further,
depicting Star Wars characters as saints, martyrs and religious
icons. Check out our holy gallery."
Sen. Ted Kennedy's Legacy of Disdain for the Separation of Church and
State There was one message that dominated the remembrances of the
late Sen. Ted Kennedy following his death: He was a very successful
dealmaker. It was always good to have Ted on your side - regardless
of the obstacles. Unfortunately, one obstacle Kennedy often ignored
was the Constitution's mandate of a meaningful separation of church
Reports: Gov. Jindal took state helicopters to church Louisiana's
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal is receiving heavy criticism
after local media revealed he has been using taxpayer money to
make helicopter visits to churches in the state. According to one
Louisiana newspaper, the governor's chopper-travel habits have cost
the taxpayers over $180,000.
Outside faith, a rising tide of 'nones' A few years ago, Tyler Manley
would have considered himself a Presbyterian. If asked about his
religion today, he will confess he doesn't have one. Nor does he
believe in God. The United States remains one of the most religious
countries in the world, but Manley is part of one of the steadiest
trends in the national landscape of faith . the growing number of
Americans who profess no religious affiliation.
SILVERMAN BLOG SHAKING UP CYBERSPACE!
It is one of the fastest growing blogs in the
Atheist/Freethought/Secular Humanist community, and you can get in
on the discussion!
Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists is in
the Blogosphere at http://nogodblog.com. It's filled with insight,
wit, hot news, controversial opinion -- and polite, thoughtful
commentary. So join the conversation! Sign up (it's free) by
visiting http://www.atheists.org and click on the blog navigation
button, or go directly to http://nogodblog.com .
RESOURCES FROM AMERICAN ATHEISTS
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