A Kentucky judge has ruled a state law that refers to dependence on "Almighty God" is unconstitutional.
"Even assuming that most of this nation's citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the general assembly the right to force citizens to do so now," Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said in the Wednesday ruling.
The reference was written into the law that created the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
Ten Kentucky residents and a national atheist group sued to have the reference taken out.
"It is breathtakingly unconstitutional," said Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists Inc. in Union, "and Judge Wingate goes to great detail as to why it is."
The God reference was incorporated in the 2006 legislation by state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville.
Riner, who pastors the Christ is King Baptist Church in Louisville, has said he will ask Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to seek a reconsideration of the order.
"They make the argument ... that it has to do with a religion," Riner said, "and promoting a religion. God is not a religion. God is God."
The representative is continuing to stand his ground, saying he is unwilling to reword the controversial phrase.
"This is no small matter, the understanding that God is real," he said. "There are real benefits to acknowledging Him. There was not a single founder or framer of the Constitution who didn't believe that."