A group of agnostics and atheists has urged a Florida Sheriff to refrain from attaching decals with a religious message onto patrol cars as it would be non-inclusive for non-believers.
The group got alerted by a Facebook post by Brevard County Sheriff’s Office wherein Sheriff Wayne Ivey proudly announced that all new patrol vehicles will flaunt the star-spangled banner on the side-doors and the text, “In God We Trust” on the back.
“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 on.
“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.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a non-profit founded in 1975 and based in Madison Wisconsin. It advocates its stated purpose to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.
The foundation’s Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor notified the Sheriff’s Office stating it is inappropriate to have Brevard County patrol cars emblazoned with the motto “In God We Trust.”
“Spending taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars is beyond the scope of secular government,” Gaylor wrote in her Oct. 28 letter, according to Florida Today.
“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,” Gaylor added.
However, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said federal courts have held that “there is absolutely nothing wrong with” the usage of the “In God We Trust” motto “in this context,” the outlet further reported.
He cited one court ruling “that the national motto ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”
Furthermore, Ivey contended, the operation would not weigh on taxpayer’s money because a friend of his, A. J. Hiers of Boniface Hiers Automotive Group, will be responsible for the stickering and will do so without charge.
“As was previously indicated, the design is only going on new vehicles, as they rotate into our fleet, and not on already existing vehicles,” Ivey stated. “So we truly can’t thank A.J. and his team enough for all they continue to do for our community,” Florida Today reported.
Ivey said he came up with the idea but first consulted some reputed patriots in the County to learn what they thought of it. “They greatly appreciated that we chose to honor the flag and principles of our great nation that our veterans fought to defend, and wondered why it was not already emblazoned on every vehicle we have,” Ivey said.