A recent addition to police and fire vehicles in Bonifay, Florida, had hundreds rallying on both sides Sunday.
Last week, Bonifay police officers placed publicly donated bumper stickers that read “In God We Trust” on their cars, reports KSPR. Close to 20 other police stations across the Florida panhandle have similar decals on their vehicles.
Police Chief Chris Wells told WJHG that he sees a hugely positive public response to the new stickers.
"My telephone, text messages, social media has just been off the roof with positive comments commending us for doing this and commending us for taking a stand," said Wells.
Indeed, many people waved signs demonstrating approval of the new acquisitions. Most had versions of “In God We Trust.” One supporter’s sign had a Bible verse written on it, which said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Not everyone sees this as a positive step forward, and many believe that the stickers encroach on the principle of separation of church and state while alienating non-Christians.
"Everyone's going to have different beliefs," said protestor Wesley Wilson. "We don't think it's right for the government to try to force any beliefs on anyone. We think people should be able to believe or not believe as they please. And putting 'In God We Trust' on the back of the police cars, that says something about us."
Wilson told KSPR that his group advocates secular government. “We do not think the phrase, "In God We Trust" or any type of religious messages or anything really in the realm of religion should be on public property or on police cars,” he said.
Regardless of Wilson’s principles, many Bonifay residents find the stickers reassuring.
“I'm glad the Sheriff of Bay County will not let the stickers be taken off of his cars because police officers trust in God," said Victor West.
For now, it appears that the decals will stay put.
"United we stand, divided we fall,” Wells said to WJHG. “And our community is united behind this motto.”
He added that the Christian-inspired slogan unites his community and is a “good idea.”
“It shows what we stand for,” he said. “Our community's behind it, and that's why we're supporting it.