A Virginia sheriff’s office is attracting praise and criticism for its new car decals.
The stickers say "In God We Trust" and were placed on police vehicles in Dinwiddie County during the week of May 16.
According to Progress Index, the Sheriff’s Office is planning to place the decals on around 25 vehicles, including patrol cars and vehicles used by school resource officers.
Dinwiddie Sheriff "Duck" Adams told Progress Index that he gained permission from the county before ordering the stickers. He added that he thinks most people will find the message "comforting," saying, "This country is based on In God We Trust."
Tina Hazelwood, owner of local business Graceful Touch Creations, provided the decals at no cost. In a post on Graceful Touch Creation’s Facebook page, Hazelwood wrote that she was "excited and honored to be able to put these emblems on the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s cars" and personally thanked Sheriff Adams for the opportunity.
Posts about the decals have garnered supportive comments as well as disapproval. Critics of the move said it violates the separation of Church and State and may infringe on citizens' religious freedom.
Hazelwood defended the decals, telling Progress Index that she believes "God has been taken out of the equation too much."
According to the Treasury Department, the motto “In God We Trust” has appeared on U.S. currency since the 1800s. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a joint resolution in 1956 that made it the official national motto.
Since then, the motto’s use on government property has been a source of controversy, according to the Washington Post.
The Treasury Department was sued in 2013 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for religious discrimination over the motto. That same organization has also led letter-writing campaigns against a number of police departments with vehicles with “In God We Trust” bumper stickers.
“It is inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to display ‘In God We Trust’ on county property,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Foundation, wrote about a similar case in North Carolina, according to the Washington Post. “The fact that these stickers were privately funded indicates that you know it is inappropriate for the government to fund religious statements.”