Police cars in China Grove, North Carolina, were recently adorned with decals that read “In God We Trust,” but the small town of around 4,000 residents has been divided by the new additions.
Disputes about the new stickers erupted on the police department’s Facebook announcement about the change.
“This is by far the stupidest thing I have ever seen," Matthew Peach wrote on the post. "I believe in God but this is a huge middle-finger to the rights this country was founded on. Shame on you, China Grove. I trust God but I do not trust you.”
Others were more supportive. Judy Carolina wrote, “When you put God in it, you'll have his protection!!! Way to go China Grove!!!”
The China Grove Police Department explained in a separate post that had to delete some of the comments. “This occurs when inappropriate words are included in a comment or when a comment ridicules or degrades someone,” the department wrote.
The new decals have official support -- the city council unanimously supported putting “In God We Trust” on squad cars after it voted to put the motto in council chambers. "If they don't like it, they don't have to come to China Grove," Mayor Pro Tem Steve Stroud told WSOC.
Though “In God We Trust” is the national motto, the religious overtones concern Ray Roberts, head of the Original Motto Project, a civil liberties group based in Seattle.
“This is not about majority rules. This is about separation of church and state,” Roberts said. He said his group will sue on behalf of anyone in China Grove who complains about the decal. “It is an imposition of religion by an authoritative government agency,” he said.
Stroud, apparently referring to Roberts and his group, described “some whiners from across the country.”
According to the National Constitution Center, multiple legal battles are pending about the use of “In God We Trust” on police cars in various jurisdictions in the U.S.
Stroud said the decals aren’t going away and will likely be placed on fire trucks next.