The police of Lake Charles, Louisiana, will be cruising around now with “In God We Trust” decals on their vehicles. Donated stickers will be added to 200 police vehicles, starting Dec. 31, 2015.
On Nov. 4, the Lake Charles City Council voted unanimously to add the bumper stickers for both city-owned vehicles and buildings. The move followed to the deaths of Louisiana Senior State Trooper Steven Vincent and Officer Henry Nelson, according to KPLC.
“Anytime an officer, no matter what, is hurt or dies, we all bleed,” said Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon.
Lake Charles is the sixth Louisiana town to add the stickers, joining Westlake, Sulphur, Rosephine, Leesville and Vernon Parish.
“What police are going through today, they need to ask for some help from a higher power,” said Jack Hebert, a donor to the Sulphur Police Department.
Lake Charles City Finance Director Karen Harrell has made assurances that all of the decals added to police vehicles will be donated, not paid for by taxpayers.
Louisiana has one of highest rates of police mortality in the line of duty, tying with Texas, whose authorities have been spearheading the movement of “In God We Trust” decals, especially in the state’s more religiously conservative areas.
The use of the phrase has intensified since Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton officially declared that his state would not pursue charges against police departments that feature it.
“Displaying ‘In God We Trust’ on police vehicles is a passive use of a motto steeped in our nation’s history that does not coerce citizen approval or participation,” Paxton wrote in a November 2015 legal opinion, reports TheBlaze. “A law enforcement department’s decision to display the national motto on its vehicles is consistent with that history.”
Many police departments have taken Paxton’s declaration as a cue to slap “In God We Trust” decals on law enforcement vehicles.
“The [Texas attorney general] rules that the motto of our nation is ‘In God We Trust,’ so how could it be wrong?” Texas' Cleveland Independent School District Police Chief Rex Evans explained to Fox News after his department adopted the decals.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining the separation of church and state, has sent letters to police departments in several states criticizing their use of the phrase on government property, according to StarTribune.
“Statements about a god have no place on government owned cars,” the letters read. “Public officials should not use their government position and government property to promote their religious views.”