A Florida sheriff has rebuffed requests from an atheist group to remove “In God We Trust” decals from the county’s patrol cars.
“They have a better chance of me waking up thin tomorrow morning than they do of me taking that motto off our cars!” Sheriff Wayne Ivey of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office told Fox News.
At issue are the county’s new fleet of patrol cars, which are emblazoned with an American flag on the side and the phrase “In God We Trust” on the back. The latter is the national motto. Ivey, in an October Facebook post, called it a “patriot theme” that was inspired by a veteran, as Christian Headlines previously reported.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation – a coalition of atheists, agnostics and skeptics – sent Ivey a letter urging him to remove the stickers. The decals imply “a religious test for employment” and send non-religious citizens an “appearance of bias,” the letter said.
“Spending taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars is beyond the scope of secular government,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the group, wrote.
Ivey told Fox News the decals will remain.
“I personally believe that our country is at a tipping point,” he said, “and if we, as strong patriotic Americans, don’t stand for the principles of our great nation, we are going to lose the America we all know and love!”
“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,” he added.
First Liberty, a legal group dedicated to religious liberty, said the law backs Ivey.
“It is absurd to think that a Florida sheriff would be acting ‘inappropriately’ for posting the official mottos of both the United States and the State of Florida,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for First Liberty, told Fox News. “This attempt to scold a public servant for acknowledging one of the most cherished traditions of our country is shameful.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Brevard County Sheriff's Office Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.