Government agencies everywhere are making a habit of flouting the United States Constitution First Amendment Establishment Clause, and far too many bureaucrats, politicians and elected officials either can’t or won’t even try to understand what it is they are doing wrong. They have no problem proselytizing religion in their official capacity as if no one should object.
The State of Kentucky has a law on its books requiring all homeland security documents to recognize humanity's dependence on God. The law of the Commonwealth commands the state's Department of Homeland Security to prominently display a plaque outside its offices that says: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God," and all department literature must state the same.
"The safety and security of the state cannot be achieved apart from recognizing our dependence upon God," explains state Rep. Tom Riner, an ordained Baptist minister who supports the 2006 law. "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," says he.
Riner insists Kentucky is on firm legal ground. "Every one of your presidents has stated that it is impossible to govern our nation without the assistance of Almighty God," he maintains, "and that has been part of our American creed." "Trusting God is our heritage. We will not surrender that heritage, which is a heritage of looking to Almighty God for His blessing."
He deduces his opinion from the Declaration of Independence. "In that document, it sets forth the need for men to understand that our protection, our rights come from God, not government," he said. "That's why our national Motto is 'In God We Trust' -- because (God) is our ultimate source of trust."
If ever there were a person in need of a crash course on the U.S. Constitution, it’s Rep. Riner.
"It's outrageous," retorts Edwin Kagin, an atheist who is suing Kentucky over the law. "It is something that is specifically prohibited by the constitutions of both the United States and Kentucky." "The Constitution states that there shall be no attempt by the government respecting an establishment of a religion and that's precisely what (Riner's law) is doing," he said.
In the State of Alabama, Roy Moore, the former Alabama Justice made famous by a Ten Commandments monument, is one step closer to getting his old job back, having won the Republican primary for the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Moore was Chief Justice for three years but was forced out in 2003 by a unanimous 9-member Alabama judicial ethics panel after he defied a federal court order to remove a 2.6 ton stone monument of the Ten Commandments he had placed at the courthouse because it constituted a government endorsement of religion in violation the Establishment Clause.
The ethics panel said they made their decision because Moore had put himself above the law by "willfully and publicly" flouting the order to remove the monument from the state judicial building's rotunda.
“God has chosen this time and this place so we can save our country and save our courts for our children," Moore proclaimed at the height of the controversy, and he still maintains today that the monument's placement was constitutionally appropriate.
"We need leadership in the legal branch," he says. "There's nothing in the first amendment that prohibits the display of religious objects." "I don't have any intention of bringing [back] the monument because that will confuse the issue, [but] "I will continue to acknowledge the sovereignty of God."
Some people just never learn, and sadly that includes Supreme Court Justices.
Republican Indiana congressman Todd Young is looking into possible “misinterpretation" of federal guidelines after a local food pantry was cut off from federal aid for asking clients to pray. He’s contacted state officials regarding Community Provisions of Jackson County, a food pantry in his district, whose director, Paul Brock, insists he will not stop asking clients if they want to pray with him or one of its 45 volunteers when they receive food.
Can you imagine being asked if you want to pray by Department of Motor Vehicle bureaucrats when you show up to renew your driver’s license? Suppose state election officials at your local precincts ask if you want to pray with them when you come to vote; or public school administrators and teachers are asking students if they want to be led in prayer before a big test.
It’s patently ridiculous and a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. But some people out there just refuse to understand.
"It certainly appears there is a misinterpretation of some rules," Congressman Young's spokesman told reporters. "We want to make sure that no one is being denied the public assistance that they need."
Never mind that they expect people to run through the Christian proselytizing gauntlet first. That thought never occurs to those who insist on using their government authority to promote their religion.
Food pantry director Brock explains that he never requires anyone to pray in order to receive nourishment they need. "We ask them if they want to pray with us; if they say no, then we just let them go on through," he said. "We're not a church. My job is to feed them and if I can pat them on the back and pray for them and lift them up somehow, that’s what I'm going to do." He claims that 98 percent of those asked ultimately pray with Community Provisions volunteers.
It’s just a little friendly religious coercion as far as he’s concerned. What’s the big deal? His First Amendment rights are being "trampled upon" by state officials, he whines.
How about that?
It’s HIS First Amendment rights which are being violated if someone objects to his using his government authority to proselytize. "People know what we stand for in this community," says he. "People tell us what's wrong with them and ask us to pray for them. I don't want the state of Indiana to take that right away from me."
He doesn’t seem to care that, even aside from the First Amendment, the national Emergency Food Assistance Program has a regulation which states explicitly that no "political, religious, or any other non-related activity can be conducted as a condition of, or in conjunction with, receiving commodities or prepared meals" containing commodities.
It’s as simple as this: If a church or religious organization wants to distribute food to the needy while offering prayer as part of the deal, that’s just fine, but when they want to distribute food paid for by the taxpayers; when they want the government to be involved, then it’s not fine because it violates the Establishment Clause.
But when it comes to religion some government officials enjoy flouting the Establishment.