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Kentucky Atheists Risk A Year In Jail For Not Believing In God

American Atheists

Kentucky residents who refuse to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God could face up to a year in prison, according to a law passed in 2006. An advocacy group is now asking the US Supreme Court to challenge the law.

According to Alternet, state representative Tom Riner was one of the law’s biggest supporters. Although many feel that the law violates the separation of church and state, the Kentucky state Supreme Court has refused to review it.

Advocacy group American Atheists filed a lawsuit against the law in 2008. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate upheld the challenge, stating that Kentucky had effectively “created an official government position on God.”

However, the Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the decision in 2011.

UPI reports that American Atheists is now taking its case to the US Supreme Court. Since the group feels the Kentucky law excludes those who don’t believe in God from politics, they feel the law is unconstitutional.

“This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen,” explained Edwin Kagin, legal director for American Atheists. “This new legislation should not be swept under the ceremonial deism rug, especially as it ostracizes atheists from politics.”

The controversial law reads as follows:

“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.’ “

What do you think about the Kentucky law? Do you think atheists should go to jail for not believing in the security of God?

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55 Responses to “Kentucky Atheists Risk A Year In Jail For Not Believing In God”

  1. Evie Frishman

    Absolutely preposterous and patently, unconstitutionally ridiculous!

  2. Sandy Jackson


  3. Sandy Jackson


  4. Dee Geiger

    I do not believe anyone should go to jail for not believing in.
    God, but atheists should also leave us who believe in God, alone and not try to incite a porblem because we do! No matter what God we pray to. Just one question…..Who do the atheist call to if they think they are dying…GOD!

  5. Sam Owens

    What the hell are you talking about? Atheists in Kentucky haven't tried to incite any problems any bother theists, theists like

  6. Ronald Leigh Bringhurst

    Mmm… no… Atheists are usually at peace when they die, there is a comfort in dying, and it is a peaceful experience. No atheist comes crying to god in a state of bliss, which is what dying is. Our bodies make it a pleasurable experience.

  7. Trevor James Pease

    People who do believe in god should also leave those who have other view when it comes to religion. Treat others how you wish to be treated.

  8. Sam Owens

    What the hell are you talking about? Atheists in Kentucky haven't tried to incite any problems and bother theists, theists like Tom Riner succeeded in creating a problem and bothering atheists by passing this stupid law. You also lied that atheists are fearful, have weak integrity, and convert to theism in the moment of death; a lie you told because it gives you a sense of smug victory.

  9. Anonymous

    How on earth could this actually pass? It is completely unconstitutional on so many levels.
    Dee, I am not trying to stomp on your religion but I would defiantly not prey to God if I was dying, and I know people that have not when they died; I was at their bedside. So don't assume that everyone feels the same way as you, or, in the end, believes the same as you.

  10. Christopher Ryan Gehlke

    meh. I think this wont last long. Probably a lot of problems with people upset. but if you keep your mouth shut, they wont know.

  11. Comrade Lenin

    or act like an atheist, get put in jail, appeal it, win because its clearly unconstitutional and then sue the state for false imprisonment.

  12. Anonymous

    If we do not separate the state from religion, very soon we will be like the Taliban.

  13. Colette Simon

    "Good" people's silence, passivity or superficiality is a sufficient condition for the triumph of evil unhindered.

  14. Bob Dickson

    Anytime someone disagrees with a theist…they claim that they are being picked on or attacked. It is such an insecure and absurd position that, if you think about it, only the paranoid and delusional could believe. This Dee person is a classic microcosmic symptom of the control that religion and belief try to wield over the rest of us. Let me put your fears to rest Miss Dee…no one is trying to take your right to be mentally ill away from you. I am sorry that your god has you living in such a fear bubble…but; please…just stay away from the rest of us because, quite frankly…you are down right scary

  15. Carla Harrod

    King Solomon, The wisest man who ever lived said,'' The Fool has said in his heart there is no God.'' God told the Israelites, " I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, choose life." Deuteronomy 28 describes results of our choice, seems a lot of these would explain the current situation facing the United States. I am a Kentuckian and am not aware of any law pertaining to imprisonment based on my faith in God. I must admit though it would give me more faith in the government officials if they made their decisions based on biblical principals of morality!

  16. Suzanne DeTurris

    Unbelievable…I am just taken aback by the stupidity and apparent disregard for our constitution.

  17. Suzanne DeTurris

    indeed…leave your constitution and you mind at the state line

  18. Suzanne DeTurris

    Welcome to Kentucky…please leave you mind at the state line!

  19. Matthew Anthony Virasami

    Soloman – the wisest man who ever lived ? you need to brush up on your science, – and i think government officials do get their morals from the bible the good and bad because you know you cant just pick and choose (deuteronomy/leviticus) – and to think that morals did not exist in society before it was written by man is to be completely ignorant

  20. Heather Mathews

    I thought that only the US Congress was prohibited from making laws based on religion, and that the states were free to make their laws that pertained solely to themselves? You mean the state constitutions are irrelevant in light of the US Constitution? My bad…

  21. Dusten Michael Carlson

    Our bodies make death a pleasurable experience? Really?

  22. Iam Hinata

    What makes you think that the some states aren't, mentality-wise, already like the Taliban?
    What's the difference between Kentucky's extreme-christian laws and Taliban's extreme-muslim laws?
    These psycho schizophreniacs make me sick.

  23. Alex Charizard Miller

    I have to say that, having read all of the articles on this legislation, I'm a bit confused as to how this would lead to jail for atheists in the first place.

  24. Abbey Mcgowan Karolinski

    yup cause punishing someone is the best way to force them into believing in a loving, kind God……NOT.

  25. Scott Prelwitz

    More idiocy from the religious right. What's next, tattoos on your forearm?

  26. Tony Gossom

    Athiests shouldn't fear a year in jail…..but spending an eternity in the lake of fire! At least the year in jail has an end in sight…eternal damnation is forever & ever& ever & ever………………..

  27. Chris Davis

    This article is misleading to the point of being untruth. There is a legislative finding, 39A.285(3), that asserts the "safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God." KRS 39G.010 spells out the duties of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director. Among the many duties of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director is KRS 39G.010 (2a), to "[p]ublicize the findings of the General Assembly, 39A.285(3), stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3)." There is no jail for atheists–that part of the article is a complete lie.

  28. Tania Maddox Buell

    Atheists are not afraid of hell because we don't believe it exists. You can think it's real, yet you can't prove it, so enjoy your believing. If it exists, I'd rather to be in hell, sure there are going to be funnier people.

  29. Tania Maddox Buell

    The problem is that everybody is entitled to their opinion. You can practice your religion at home. Christians are so into asking respect for their believings and never offering that respect in return…

  30. Tania Maddox Buell

    Miss Dee. I have lost some dear family members and none of us ever called to your god because we don't believe in his existence. We grief like everybody else, if not more, our people, but I believe the death is just the end. The narcissism of people make them (or us) wishing that death won't be the end, that something other is waiting for us, we're just too important to live this short life and end up into the oblivion. That's one of the main reasons of the existence of religions.

  31. Chris Davis

    Todd Rigby copied a misleading article from Alternet and published it to the Inquisitr on November 21, 2012.

    The title of the article is: Kentucky Atheists Risk A Year In Jail For Not Believing In God.

    I am writing to complain that title of the article is not true. Kentucky atheists do not risk jail time for not believing in God.

    The article is based on a real 2008 lawsuit brought by American Atheists against the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to remove legislative finding 39A.285(3) and directive 39G.010 (2a).

    Legislative finding 39A.285(3) asserts the "safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

    KRS 39G.010 (2a) mandates the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director must publicize legislative finding 39A.285(3) by including "reliance on Almighty God" in all agency training and educational materials. The KOHS executive director must also "prominently display a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3)."

    There is no jail for atheists.

    If the author were to be questioned about the jail time for atheists, he may cite 39A.990, "Any person violating any provision of this chapter or any administrative regulation or order promulgated pursuant to this chapter for which another penalty is not specified shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor." However, 39A.990 would need to be taken out of context in order to translate 391.990 into a year of jail for atheists. In fact, 39A.990 predates legislative finding 39A.285 (3) and directive 39G.010 (2a) by 4 years. Penalty 39A.990 was effective July 15, 1998 but legislative finding 39A.285 (3) and directive 39G.010 (2a) were not effective until March 28, 2002.

  32. Michelle Trcka

    I've got some bad news for you, Sunshine Tony… There is no hell. And I DO believe in God. I choose not to live in the fear your religion tries to bestow on everyone, because living in fear is not what God really intends. Nobody should ever be imprisoned for their beliefs. How is this law any different than any other religion based oppressive law, like Sharia?

  33. Anders Laursen

    "Oh your beliefs are different from ours? CRIMINAL SCUM!"
    Way to go Kentucky… At first I thought this was an internet-joke, but seeing several news-sites having stories on the issue, I guess you really weren't kidding. There is no word for how disgusting and narrow-minded this is.
    Next time, instead of raising your fists, try improving your arguments instead.

  34. Chris Davis

    See my thorough debunking of this article above…this article is a patchwork of of mis-matched facts to make an eye-catching headline. You don't have to read the entire KRS….in my debunking I have listed exactly where to look for the facts.

  35. Raven Audron

    You do realize that the concept of Hell is what makes many people turn away from God, right? Because would an all-loving and all-forgiving god really torture his children forever? That sounds hateful to me.

  36. Haleigh Mackenzi Carr

    Alright University of Kentucky, you can stop sending me college letters now. No way am I going to spend 4 or more years in a state where I could serve a year in prison for not believing in some jealous god that sacrifices the innocent to prove a point and rules by bribery and fear. #Atheist

  37. Brandon Kline

    repling to:"That's one of the main reasons of the existence of religions. "

    That and mass population control…which is where it usually ends up assuming it didn't have that purpose to begin with *cough* judiac religions *cough*

  38. Taylor W Currey

    It can because the people who try to pass these kinds of laws make a 50 to hundred page bill. Then they title it something nice. For example Milk for cute and cuddly animals bill but the bill is really about the death penalty for atheist, life of imprisonment for marijuana and the ability for the possibiltiy for a dictatorship. They hide laws in the middle because people read a little and vote yes. The Amber Alert bill which is about child abduction contains over laws. Club owners have to suspect there are drugs in their club just because of glow sticks. The club owner is also charged if there are drugs because of this. This will be how tracking devices on everyone will become legal

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