A North Carolina sheriff announced he is adding “In God We Trust” decals to the back of all the department’s vehicles with the help of a local Baptist church.
Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis said he has been wanting to put the “Nation’s motto” on the vehicles for months, but he had been unable to do so because of the cost.
Pastor David Ledford, of Fairview Baptist Church in Golden Valley, stepped in and told Francis that he and his church would like to fund the project. Not only are they footing the bill for the marked patrol vehicles the department already has, they are also planning to pay the cost for any new vehicles that are acquired in the future.
I am very appreciative of the church’s donation that has allowed this project to get underway,” said Sheriff Francis. “I whole-heartedly believe in our Nation’s motto and am proud that it will be displayed on the Rutherford County Sheriff’s vehicles.
Online reactions have been mixed, which is not surprising. Similar moves by police departments across the country have sparked controversy in recent years.
Since July of 2015, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been sending letters to police departments, like the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Dept., who place the words “In God We Trust” on their vehicles, asking them to remove the stickers.
The FFRF maintains that such decals on government vehicles violate the First Amendment, which states very specifically that no government agency is allowed to endorse any religion. On their website, regarding the letter campaign, the organization states:
FFRF reminds the agencies that citizens trust law enforcement officers to attend to their secular duties, not spend taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars to the exclusion of the 23% of Americans who are not religious.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor concludes the letters asking the departments to remove ‘In God We Trust’ from their vehicles to ‘respect the rights of conscience of all citizens, including those who in good conscience reject belief in a god.’
“In God We Trust” was officially adopted as the Nation’s motto in 1956. Prior to this time, the Nation’s motto was “Pluribus Unum,” which is Latin for “one from many or one from many parts.”
Featured image via Nixle