Blasphemous Blogging: The Blog of Edwin Kagin

Blasphemy is the crime of making fun of ridiculous beliefs others hold sacred. This blog is about satire, truth, inquiry, and critical thinking. It is about enjoying life before death. It is about how some try to control many through their notions about a make believe supernatural world and imaginary rewards and punishments after death. This blog says that blasphemy is a good thing, a healthy thing, and a good antidote to harmful superstition. This blog is about freedom. Edwin.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Atheist News from Edwin Kagin



To Unidentified Recipients:

The lawsuit filed today, “American Atheists, et al vs Commonwealth of Kentucky, et al,” can be found here:

The media is going into a feeding frenzy. You are encouraged to write letters to Kentucky papers and papers everywhere on this one.

Some have actually suggested that the Atheists are doing this as part of their annual “War on Christmas,” whatever that is.

Stay tuned.



Louisville Courier-Journal
Law's use of God challenged
Security bill subject of suit
By Peter Smith • • December 2, 2008

Ten Kentucky residents and the national American Atheists Inc. are suing to overturn Kentucky legislation "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

The suit says the legislation, passed with little notice in 2006 to create the Kentucky Office ofHomeland Security
, is "grossly, and outrageously, at variance with" with Kentucky and U.S. constitutional bans on government-sponsored religion.
In addition to seeking to have the legislation overturned, the plaintiffs are seeking financial damages, saying they "suffer anxiety from the belief that the existence of these unconstitutional laws suggest that their very safety as residents of Kentucky may be in the hands of fanatics, traitors, or fools."
At issue are two clauses inserted in a floor amendment by state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, and approved by lawmakers.
One clause says the "safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God" and cites statements to that effect by Presidents Abraham Lincolnand John F. Kennedy.
A permanent plaque quoting that text is posted at the state's Emergency Operations Center, as required by the clause.
The other clause, listing the executive director's duties, begins with a requirement to publicize "the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."
Edwin Kagin -- an attorney in Union, Ky., who also is the national legal director of American Atheists -- said he mailed the lawsuit to Franklin Circuit Court overnight and expects it to be filed today.
The suit names as defendants the commonwealth, state Attorney General Jack Conway, the stateHomeland Security office and its director, Thomas Preston.
Riner and spokespeople for Conway and Preston did not immediately return calls about the suit.
The individual plaintiffs are identified as Michael G. Christerson, James F. Coffman, Lucinda Hedden Coffman, Jan Ewing, Emmett F. Fields, Alex Grigg, Edwin Hensley, Helen Kagin, David Ryan and James K. Willmot. All are U.S. citizens except Kagin, a Canadian who is a permanent resident here.
"I'm joining in because I think it's the right thing for me to do as an American," said Hensley, an atheist. "One of the most precious gifts of our founding fathers is the freedom of religion."
The New Jersey-based American Atheists says it's representing those atheists reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation.
The legislation drew little attention until it was spotlighted Friday in an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Former Gov. Ernie Fletcher gave prominent credit to God in his annual reports, but Gov. Steve Beshear's administration did not do so in its latest annual Homeland Security report.
"We certainly expect it to be there, of course," Riner, a pastor, told the Herald-Leader.
Preston said last week he would "not try to supplant almighty God. All I do is try to obey the dictates of the Kentucky General Assembly. I really don't know what their motivation was for this. They obviously felt strongly about it."
Riner said last week the language showed "government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap."
The lawsuit says the Homeland Security office was created in response to -- the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- which it called a "faith-based initiative" -- and that including the religious language discriminates against those who don't believe in a deity.
It says the plaintiffs have suffered "somatic discomforts, and mental pain and anguish, from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who share the belief in a god that is required by the challenged statutes."
The lawsuit isn't the only source of criticism directed at the law.
Such laws "raise serious constitutional questions about their validity," said attorney William Sharp of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.
The Rev. Paul Simmons of Louisville, chairman of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, urged Beshear and lawmakers to overturn the legislation, saying the Office of Homeland Security "is not in the business of promoting religion" but of "securing all citizens against harm from enemies."
And Rabbi David Saperstein, national director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement saying the law amounts to religious discrimination because the Homeland Security office's director is required to credit "God's power as protector of the state."
Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
From reader Jayne:
In the 1700s, a group of English men, disciples of the French enlightenment, created the USA, never mentioning God in the Constitution. Washington, in his letter to the Jewish community of Newport, RI, did refer to "the Father" in his well wishes, but also affirmed that being a part of the USA "requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support." KY has violated our founder's principles by requiring an acknowledgement of "God" in the work of a government office. If this means the God of Abraham, only Christians, Jews or Muslims may now work at the Office of Homeland Security; citizens who are atheists, agnostics, or members of non-monotheist religions may not. Is the religious faith of KY Christians so weak that they must force others to bow to their sect, instituting government-backed religious coercion found in oppressive states such as Saudi Arabia? How shameful. How un-American.
From reader Jim:
Dear Mr. Riner,

Your successful attempt to link our country's fight against terrorism to faith is not only unconstitutional but also fool-hardy. The success of western democracies is due (in part) to the separation of church and state where people are free to practice whatever faith they wish (including no faith) and government plays no role in such practice. Contrary to your suggestion that the citizens of Kentucky must recognize the 'Almighty' as a starting point in fighting terrorism, I suggest that it is extreme belief in God, belief that God is on their side and belief that others must believe as they do that leads people to commit acts of terrorism. How can we condemn the idiots that think they are performing god's will by terrorist acts when we contend that no, it is our god that is the true god and our citizen's must recognize faith as fact? Your faith may indeed be helpful to you, but that does not make it true. Might I suggest you save up your money, travel outside the US a bit, read a few books other than the Bible, and learn about how western democracies (by the way, the west includes Europe) have flourished despite religion, and not because of it.


Jim Willmot
Prospect, KY

PS: Please do not put me on a watchlist since it is my right and duty as an American citizen to speak up when injustices occur. I hope you agree that it is my right to dissent. Legislating that all Kentucky citizens must recognize your sky-god is an injustice and must be reversed.
The time is near...
So spread the word!

Winter Solstice Bash & Open House

Friday Dec. 12 - Saturday Dec.13

Imagine an entire weekend when you can visit New York City, get together with fellow Atheists and other nonbelievers, see the largest private archive of Atheist/Freethought books, and stay in a magnificent hotel convenient to these sites and activities -- and more! That's what we've got for you at the 2008 Winter Solstice Bash weekend!

* On Friday, Dec. 12, tour the American Atheist Center and the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library & Archives. This Open House event runs from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM with a special ribbon cutting event at 1:30 to dedicate the new Eddie Tabash Conference and Media Studio. Complimentary treats, beverages and more, with an opportunity to meet Eddie Tabash and the new President of American Atheists, Ed Buckner! The Center is located at 225 Cristiani St. in Cranford, NJ 07016, and is convenient to the Garden State Parkway and the host Crowne Plaza Hotel. Visit Mapquest for directions.

* Saturday, Dec. 13, join us at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in nearby Clark, NJ for the annual Winter Solstice Gala featuring a lavish lunch buffet, open cash bar, talks and much more, hosted by AA Communications Director Dave Silverman. The fun begins at 11:30 AM. You can still sign up by visiting .

* See New York City and regional attractions thanks to a special rate of only $109 plus tax at the Crowne Plaza. This special rate is in effect from Thursday through Tuesday. You must make your reservations directly with the hotel, by calling 732-574-0100; and be sure to mention that you are with the American Atheists celebration.

* After the Winter Solstice Bash, join us at the American Atheist Center in nearby Cranford for a live taping of The Atheist Viewpoint television show, and more tours of the Eddie Tabash Conference and Media Studio and CESAALA.


AMERICAN ATHEISTS -- 225 Cristiani St. -- Cranford, NJ 07016
(American Atheists is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

From Blair Scott, American Atheists Affiliate Outreach Director
Subject: New American Atheists Affiliates
Hello American Atheists!
I am incredibly proud to announce a lot of new Affiliates to the Affiliate program! I will be making these announcements from now on as new Affiliates join. Please take the time if it so pleases you to contact them and welcome them to the Affiliate program. American Atheists continues to be proud of the Affiliate program and the individual Affiliates that make the program work!
Also new is the clickable Affiliates Map on the NAOD Web Page. Members and Affiliates have asked me to make finding a local Affiliate easier and complained about scrolling down a long list of states and names, so we've upgrade the Web Page to a clickable map. You can check out the new page at To go directly to the new clickable map please go to
As always, my door is open and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns via any of the methods below.
New Affiliates (in alphabetical order):
Atheists for Human Rights (national group):
Atheists United for a Rational America (national group): Kansas Freethought Society (Kansas City, KS): Las Vegas Freethought Society (Las Vegas, NV): Memphis Freethought Society (Memphis, TN): Miami County Kansas Freethinkers Meetup (Kansas City, KS): Mid-South Humanist Society (Southaven, MS):
Nashville Secular Life (Nashville, TN):
Northeast Pennsylvania Freethought Society (Scranton, PA): Rational Response Squad at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA): Rhode Island Atheist Society (Providence, RI): Science Club of Long Island (Huntington, NY):
In reason,
Blair Scott
National Affiliate Outreach Director, American Atheists Alabama State Director, American Atheists
Online: and
Email: or Pri Phone: (256) 701-6265 Sec Phone: (256) 503-1123
Postal: PO Box 41, Ryland, AL 35767-2000
American Atheists is a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists, Inc. PO Box 158, Cranford, NJ 07016, Tel: (908) 276-7300 Fax: (908) 276-7402

Kentucky Enquirer, December 2,2008
Creation Museum deal ends
Co-promotion of events produces uproar
By Dan Horn • • December 2, 2008
The Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum launched a joint promotional deal last week to draw attention to their holiday attractions.
It worked, but not the way zoo and museum officials had hoped.
The zoo pulled out of the deal Monday after receiving dozens of angry calls and e-mails about the partnership, which offered reduced prices to anyone who bought tickets to the zoo's Festival of Lights and the museum's Christmas celebration, Bethlehem's Blessing.
Most of the protests echoed the same theme: The Creation Museum promotes a religious point of view that conflicts with the zoo's scientific mission.
Some complained that the zoo, which receives public support through a tax levy, should not become involved with a private museum dedicated to the teachings of the Bible's Book of Genesis. Others said a scientific institution shouldn't link itself to a place that argues man once lived side by side with dinosaurs.
"They seem like diametrically opposed institutions," said Dr. James Leach, a Cincinnati radiologist who e-mailed zoo officials about his concerns. "The Cincinnati Zoo is one of this city's treasures. The Creation Museum is an international laughingstock."
Zoo officials said they considered the promotion - dubbed "Two Great Attractions, One Great Deal" - a marketing deal no different than cross-promotions they do with the Cincinnati Reds and other institutions.
Instead, they found themselves mired in a heated debate between creationists and evolutionists over the origins of mankind. Thanks to the Internet, the opposition needed only a few days to organize a worldwide e-mail campaign and to set up a zoo boycott through blogs and a Facebook page.
"It's not about us endorsing them or them endorsing us," Chad Yelton, a zoo spokesman, said. "That wasn't the intention of anything we were doing."
The Creation Museum's founder, Ken Ham, said the Petersburg museum and the zoo spent months preparing the cross-promotion package.
He said the zoo's decision to cut ties after two days was disappointing and a missed opportunity to boost regional tourism.
Ham said he was "personally saddened" by the negative response.
"It's a pity that intolerant people have pushed for our expulsion simply because of our Christian faith," Ham said in a statement. "Some of their comments ... reveal great intolerance for anything having to do with Christianity."
The museum, which opened in May 2007, has been praised by supporters as a bulwark against evolutionary teachings. It also has been ridiculed by critics who say its displays, including a triceratops with a saddle on its back, are based on pseudoscience.
The ticket deal first appeared on Web sites for both institutions Friday, offering a price of $25.95 for one ticket to both the Festival of Lights and Bethlehem's Blessing, which features a live Nativity scene and a recreation of the streets of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.
But Yelton said the uproar became such a distraction by Monday morning that zoo officials decided to pull it from the Web site.
No package deals had been sold, so no refunds will be necessary.
"When we partner with the Reds, we don't get these kinds of e-mails," Yelton said. "It's pretty clear this is more of a distraction."


Blogger virgquest said...

Thank you SO much for filing your lawsuit! The first article in the Herald-Leader really blew my mind. You have my complete support - good luck!

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