Florida Sheriff Defends 'In God We Trust' Patrol Car After Anti-Christian Backlash
Patriotic phrase faces backlash Freedom From Religion Foundation
A Florida sheriff has stood his ground following the decision to place new decals on patrol cars with the phrase “In God We Trust” after a backlash from atheists.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey told Fox News that patriotic Americans need to stand by their principles.
“They have a better chance of me waking up thin tomorrow morning than they do of me taking that motto off our cars," Ivey said.
“I personally believe that our country is at a tipping point, and if we, as strong patriotic Americans, don’t stand for the principals of our great nation, we are going to lose the America we all know and love!”
Ivey's remarks follow a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which argued that the new decal is “frightening and politically dubious," in a letter.
A message on Ivey’s Facebook page says a local military veteran suggested the decals.
“I can assure you that the proud men and women of our agency are forever unwavering in our support of the constitution and the principles of our amazing country,” the sheriff said.
FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor demanded that the phrase “In God We Trust” be removed from the cars.
“Spending taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars is beyond the scope of secular government,” she wrote.
Further, in a time when citizens nationwide are increasingly distrustful of law enforcement officers’ actions, it is frightening and politically dubious for the local police department to announce to citizens that officers rely on the judgment of a deity rather than on the judgment of the law.
Director of FFRF’s Florida chapter, David Williamson, said, “Law enforcement officers take an oath to protect and serve all citizens.”
“Displaying a preference for religion so clearly right on county property is a betrayal of that oath,” he added.
Ivey told members of the community about the “new patriotic look” of the county’s patrol vehicles in a Facebook post:
In the coming months and years as our agency replaces our patrol fleet, our residents will see new patriotic graphics on our marked vehicles that show just how proud we are of our country and the principles our great nation was founded upon!!
While our vehicles will continue to include the iconic “Shuttle” design in honor of our Space Center history, they will now also include new graphics of an American Flag and the phrase “In God We Trust” that are both prominently displayed on each unit.
To us, there is no greater honor than to live in the greatest country in the world and serve as a law enforcement officer in Brevard County where our citizens love us, trust us and protect us just as much as we love, trust, and protect them.
Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham applauded Ivey for his insight that “our country is at a tipping point.”
“There’s nothing frightening or political about it,” he posted to Facebook about the vehicles.
“Share your support and encouragement with Sheriff Ivey and his force in the comments below,” Graham invited.
In June this year, the City Council of Bakersfield, California, approved a measure to add "In God We Trust" decals to all police and fire vehicles.
After much controversy, city officials signed the proposal earlier this year.
“I love the motto,” Councilmember Jacquie Sullivan told The Bakersfield Californian.
“It’s meaningful. It’s powerful. Those words are intended to encourage.”
In God We Trust America, Sullivan’s non-profit organization, has offered to cover the costs for adding the decals.U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who represents Bakersfield, says he fully supports the move.