Diboll, Texas, Police Chief Steve Baker designed a patch for his police officers to wear that reads: "Matt 5:9," a reference to the verse Matthew 5:9 in the Bible: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (video below).
"With everything that's going on in the world right now and the attack on police officers," Baker told KETK in March. "There's officers being targeted and murdered throughout the states. When I started designing the patch I wanted to give kind of a reference to what we do."
However, the Bible verse patch initiative was recently canceled.
"Whatever your logo or emblem or saying is, it can neither advance nor inhibit religion," Diboll City Attorney Jimmy Cassels told KTRE. "Personally, I may not agree with it, but the Supreme Court dictates the rules we all have to live by."
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The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which advocates for the separation of church and state, wrote Cassels a letter on April 12, noting that some residents had filed complaints about the patches.
"Anytime the government endorses one religion over others, it should bother everyone," FFRF Attorney Sam Grover told KTRE. "Adding a bible quotation to its patches sends a clear message to the citizens of Diboll that a police department endorses one specific religion."
"I was kind of surprised to see the letter," Baker said. "The majority of the response was really high. The majority of responses were supportive of it."
According to Baker, the Bible verse patch has been replaced with another reference to religion:
The old patch was just a "D" with a star. It really didn't mean anything. We made this patch to mean something. Everything had meaning. We are keeping the design but replacing the verse with the words "In God We Trust." I talked to Cassels to make sure it would be okay and he said the attorney General said it can be okay, so that's what we will do.
... We all know our own beliefs. We don't have to have a certain little piece of stitching on our uniform to get out there how we feel about things.