The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent two letters to police departments in Arkansas requesting that they remove “In God We Trust” slogans from their patrol cars.
The FFRF campaigns for the separation of church and state and argues that the stickers violate the First Amendment.
“It is inappropriate for the department to display ‘In God We Trust’ on government property,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote Aug 19 to the Cave City Police Department and Hempstead County sheriff’s office, Arkansas Online reported. “Statements about a god have no place on government-owned cars.”
Hempstead County placed the motto on its police cars on Aug 1.
“I think this brings the community together,” said Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton. “It's a common thing our county can stand up for.
“I feel like the only way it will be removed is if we have a court order and a new sheriff."
Cave City’s mayor, Ron Burge, has yet to announce an official response to the letter. He said he would consult with the local police chief.
“I don't see anything wrong with it,” Burge added of the motto. “Everybody's been for it.”
The two Arkansas authorities are the latest to be contacted by the FFRF, which has challenged decisions by at least 17 police agencies to display the motto over the summer.
A conservative Christian legal group has stepped in to support the police agencies, according to the Washington Times.
“We write to inform you that it does not violate the First Amendment for your team to continue displaying the national motto on department vehicles and to offer our legal assistance if FFRF or any other atheist group threatens your department with litigation over the use of ‘In God We Trust,'” the Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a letter to all 17 agencies, reported by the Times.
Gaylor warned that FFRF was considering suing agencies that do not comply with its request.
“All we are asking for is more neutralization. We don't want 'In Atheism We Trust,'” Gaylor said, according to Arkansas Online.
“In God We Trust” became the US national motto in 1956.
Photo credit: Stone County Sheriff's Office/Facebook