A Louisiana police chief says he is standing by his decision to place the motto “In God We Trust” on the back of his department’s police cruisers.
"I believe the motto signifies patriotism and the fact that our country was founded on godly principles," Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux, of the Youngsville Police Department, told KATC News recently.
"I understand there may be a few upset by this, but I want people to know that this slogan does not prefer one religious denomination over any other,” he added. “It has nothing to do with the establishment of religion. My intent by displaying this motto is not to be divisive, but to stand firm on the principals our great country was founded on and to publicly display patriotism.”
Boudreaux is just one of a growing list of law enforcement officials who have decided to add the motto to department vehicles, KLFY News reports.
It’s a disturbing trend to some, like Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
Gaylor spoke with The New York Times earlier this month, saying that the motto could serve as a diversion from criticism.
“This motto has nothing to do with the problem of police forces’ shooting people, but it’s a great way to divert attention away from that and wrap yourself in a mantle of piety so that you’re above criticism,” she said. “The idea of aligning the police force with God is kind of scary. That’s the first thing you’d expect to see in a theocracy.”
But some officials say the courts, and history, are on their side. Sheriff Johnny Moats, in Polk County, Georgia, is among them.
“If it’s on my money and it’s on the state flag, I can put it on a patrol car,” Moats told The Times.
Boudreaux made a similar argument when he spoke with KLFY.
“I concur with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals when it stated, ‘The In God We Trust’ motto is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a government sponsorship of a religious exercise,” he said.
Photo credit: Youngsville Police Department via KLFY News