Americans Atheists filed a lawsuit (PDF) against the state of Kentucky because the state’s office of “Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God’s benevolent protection in its reports” — essentially, God is the first priority for those protecting us from terrorists. It’s a blatant violation of separation of church and state and an illegal endorsement of religion.
However, in their lawsuit, American Atheists said this:
The plaintiffs, and each of them, have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer, damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged laws. Named 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. Plaintiffs also 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.
I didn’t buy the “mental pain and anguish” bit. That seemed to be quite a stretch and an unbelievable one at that. I wrote this a couple days ago:
I find that hard to believe. This wasn’t even news until a few days ago — did anyone report this story before then? The law has been in the books since 2006. What were these plaintiffs doing during the past two years? Biding their time until this news received more attention?
It seems foolish to ask for monetary damages for something like that. Hell, we’ve had President Bush at the helm for the past eight years — that’s much more of a cause for sleeplessness and anguish than God.
Earlier today, American Atheists’ Communications Director David Silverman appeared on MSNBC to discuss the lawsuit.
While he tries to explain why the “mental anguish” bit is in the lawsuit, the subtext shrieks that they just made up that part so the case could legally be heard in court. Whether it’s true or not, it’s clear that even he doesn’t take that bit seriously. And if he doesn’t, why should anyone else?
I’m not blaming him — I don’t think anyone else could really defend that statement either.
Even host David Shuster seems to want to be on Silverman’s side, but he’s having a hard time doing so because of the anguish clause.
I want to have higher hopes for this lawsuit, but I’m not optimistic about it.