A national atheist organization is demanding that Missouri sheriffs remove decals with the words "In God We Trust" from their patrol cars.The Missouri Sheriffs Association voted unanimously in August to decorate their squad cars with the words of our national motto.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has now sent a letter to sheriffs in Missouri insisting that the decals violate the "separation of church and state."
"Statements about a God have no place on government-owned property," says Annie Gaylor, President of FFRF. "Hundreds of thousands of Missourians do not believe in a monotheistic God or any gods. Posting 'In God We Trust' on patrol cars signals bias against nonbelievers."
If the decals are to stay, Gaylor's group has offered to send "In Reason We Trust" stickers for Missouri sheriffs to post alongside the national motto.
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott says the "In God We Trust" decals are going to remain. "Here's how I feel about it. It's our nation's motto. It's on all of our currency. It's on our county seal. It's probably in 75 percent of the courthouses in the United States."
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed had a more pointed response. "Let me ask the ones that want this gone from our vehicles this: Have you ever woke up and put on a uniform with a badge on your chest? These officers need God with them every day. They put their lives on the line every day."
"Ozark County will stand strong in our belief," Reed added. "There's a reason law enforcement officers have put this on our vehicles. It's because we believe in God, and He is our protector."
The President of the Missouri Sheriffs Association, Rodney Herring, says that the Stone County Sheriff's Department was the first to make the move, and that the association voted unanimously to show solidarity with the Stone County department by doing the same.
"In the times we're in right now and how law enforcement is viewed negatively, we are looking for something positive," says Herring, who is the Sheriff of Grundy County.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader had slapped the decals on his department's patrol vehicles in July, saying at the time that "there has been no better time than now to proudly display our national motto."
Missouri sheriffs are not the only targets of Gaylor's atheist group. Similar letters have been sent to law enforcement agencies all across the country.
The police chief of Childress, Texas has also decided to stand firm in his decision to post the decals on his department's squad cars. Chief Adrian Garcia says they were affixed following the death of Texas law enforcement officer Darren Goforth, who was murdered while refueling his vehicle at a gas station.
"With all the assaults that are happening across America on law enforcement, I just felt that it was time to have somewhat of a rally cry," Garcia said. "What better thing to say than have our national motto on our patrol units."
Garcia sent this reponse to Gaylor: "After carefully reading your letter, I must deny your request...and ask that you and the Freedom from Religion Foundation go fly a kite."
How encouraging it is to see those who are called on "to preserve and protect" recognizing that God is their and our ultimate Protector.
We encourage you to send a note to the Missouri Sheriffs Association thanking them for the bold stand they have taken in support of our nation's founding principles.
You can do so by using this link:MO Sheriffs