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A Wisconsin group has asked two Arkansas law enforcement agencies to remove decals saying "In God We Trust" from their police cars, saying the motto can offend non-Christians and subjects them to unwarranted prejudice.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wis., sent letters to the Cave City Police Department and the Hempstead County sheriff's office after both departments placed the motto on the back windows of their patrol vehicles.

"It is inappropriate for the department to display "In God We Trust" on government property," foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote in Aug. 19 letters to both law agencies. "Statements about a god have no place on government-owned cars."

Cave City Mayor Ron Burge said he saw the letter Monday but has yet to make a decision on whether to remove the phrase from his city's police cars.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," Burge said of the motto. "Everybody's been for it."

He said Police Chief Nathan Stephens was out of the office until Wednesday, and they'd discuss the matter then.

The Sharp County town's police department added the decals to its four cars late last month. In addition to the motto, cars also feature a memorial to Cave City officer Jeff A. Richardson, who was killed during a pursuit on May 21, 1993, and the logo of the Cave City High School caveman mascot.

When the department posted a notice about the logos on its Facebook page, 584 people "liked" it and 74 people made positive comments. None made a negative response.

Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton said he placed the motto on his department's cars on Aug. 1 after he saw two sheriff's offices in Missouri do the same.

"I think this brings the community together," he said. "It's a common thing our county can stand up for.

"America was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," Singleton said.

He said he will not remove the logo despite the foundation's letter.

"I feel like the only way it will be removed is if we have a court order and a new sheriff," he said.

Gaylor said she intends to sue some departments if they do not remove the mottos, but she did not elaborate on details.

She said the group receives about 3,500 complaints per year. In addition to the two letters to the Arkansas agencies, the foundation also sent similar notices to eight Missouri law enforcement departments and 22 to other agencies in the southern United States.

Gaylor said 23 percent of Americans identify themselves as "nonreligious" and may feel intimidated if they are stopped by police cars with the logos emblazoned on them.

"All we are asking for is more neutralization. We don't want 'In Atheism We Trust,' she said.

Earlier this month, the foundation also requested the city of Jonesboro remove Bible passages from the E911 dispatch center's Facebook page.

Mayor Harold Perrin ordered the verses removed, but later asked for an attorney general's opinion on the matter.

Last September, the foundation asked Arkansas State University to remove Christian cross decals on its football team's helmets after players used them to memorialize another player and an equipment manager who had died. The university complied with the request and created a nonreligious icon for the helmets.

Just last week, the Osceola City Council voted to join Cave City and Hempstead County in adding "In God we Trust" to all city vehicles after Alderman Tyler Dunegan suggested it.

"It's the national motto," Dunegan said. "It's as much a patriotic thing as it is a religious issue. Citizens want to see more morals and ethics in government. This is a great way to do that."

Officials are checking prices and have received offers of donations to add the sayings to the city's vehicles but haven't moved forward yet.

"If we get one of those [foundation] letters asking us to stop, we'd have to talk it over with the council," Dunegan said.

State Desk on 08/25/2015

Reader Vote Results

Should two Arkansas law enforcement agencies have to remove decals saying "In God We Trust" from their police cars?

Print Headline: Group wants 'In God We Trust' taken off police cars

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Archived Comments

  • Popsmith
    August 25, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.

    Take it off our money too. Let the dollar be our god all by itself. What other paper gods do we have?
    You ain't educated until you know who God is.

  • hogfan2012
    August 25, 2015 at 9:32 a.m.

    I am so sick of these hell-bound activists trying to dictate everything in society. America is taking the political correctness way too far. Every single thing in the world can be offensive to someone in the world. As a Christian, I am offended by the non-Christians in the world trying to force their desires down my throat. It is time for Christians to unite and stand up for the One who gave it all for us.

  • RaylanGivens
    August 25, 2015 at 9:48 a.m.

    Would it make them feel better if we added "all others pay cash" below it?

  • 23cal
    August 25, 2015 at 10:02 a.m.

    No doubt putting the national motto on government vehicles is legal.
    *
    As you can see from the first few comments on here, however,it is crystal clear the purpose of doing so is to utilize a legal path to rip away at the wall between church and state. They have found a legal way to stick a finger in the eye of everyone who isn't a Christian while shouting "Nyaa, nyaa, Mommy government likes me best!"
    How sad that some of our governmental bodies are determined to choose to be divisive instead of inclusive. How sad they choose to tell all of the citizens who aren't Christian that they are second rate citizens in the eyes of the city government.
    *
    Way to use the government to validate your feelings of religious superiority and favoritism. Whoever made the decision to put this on the city vehicles deserves a front row pew.....and the contempt of everyone in favor of equality for all citizens along with the disgust of those who respect the established jurisprudence of the Constitutional separation of church and state.
    *
    It is amusing to note the people in favor of shoving their religion down the throats of everyone not in lockstep with them are the same ones who whine the loudest about gay people "shoving" a "lifestyle" down their throats.

  • 3WorldState1
    August 25, 2015 at 10:02 a.m.

    While I agree PC has gone waaay too far, and mostly by the liberal ilk, In God we Trust should be taking off of Government vehicles. It's common sense. As a non-believer and in a state dominated by evangelicals, theere are prejudices against us. That's way I most never make any comment either way about religion. But in doing so you sit around people who openly practice that prejudice against others.
    Much like you might feel if the cops pulling you over had "In Allah we Trust". He's a "God" right? But I bet you might be suspicious of it.
    Gov vehicle. Get rid of it. It's an easy decision.
    Obviously this guy doesnt know the constitution.

  • 23cal
    August 25, 2015 at 10:21 a.m.

    Pop:
    About "Take it off our money too." Interestingly enough, the devout President Theodore Roosevelt agreed with that idea. He tried to have "In God We Trust" removed from coins. He thought it sacrilegious and unconstitutional.

  • mrcharles
    August 25, 2015 at 11:03 a.m.

    It is offensive. You will notice his chosen people do not defame his name and his presence by using all 3 letters. The proper use should be G-d. or Adonai.

    When HaElyon divided to the Goyim their nachalah, when He separated the Bnei Adam, He set the gevulot (borders) of the people according to the number of the Bnei Yisroel. For you southerns , who revere the bibble but dont know what is in it, this refers to the most high G-d, giving YHWH dominion over the Israelite's. Then who dominates the others?

    Yeah, pigman of the mayan calendar Apocalypse , them there people trying to dictate everything in society- they really suck. You and your goats are highly offended by people trying to take away your right to discriminate against others as you in your delusion decide what is pure and pure [ see duggars and the lifestyle- actually just because they are hypocrites does not mean all Christians are like them]. You sure dont mind forcing your celestial decoding of the divine mandate down others throats- just tell us that G-d talks to you!. And for Christians to stand up, I would submit for your consideration does this mean the mormoons? What about protestants who feel Catholics are going to hell for their venerated rituals to Mary? Which of the over 30,000 different sects of Christianity is the correct one? The baptist or Presbyterian, lovely descendants to the killer Calvin- who beheaded children, burnt people alive?

    Roy , sound wisdom!

    pop, Who is G-d? YYour G-d? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, G-d.
    in Matthew 26:42, Jesus' will is not the same as the will of the Father. Jesus often contrasted himself with the Father, for example, in John 14:28, or Luke 18:19. Furthermore, Jesus supposedly said that the punishment for blaspheming against one part of the trinity is not the same punishment for blaspheming against another part of the trinity. In the Hebrew Scriptures, however, Gd is One, as in Deuteronomy 6:4, as well as in Isaiah 44:6, where Gd says , 'I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no Gd.' Isaiah tells us that Gd said, 'I am the first,' it means that Gd has no father. When Isaiah tells us that Gd said, 'I am the last,' it means that Gd has no literal son, a divine piece of Gd. And when Isaiah tells us that Gd said, 'Besides me there is no Gd,' it means that Gd does not share being Gd with any other Gd, or demi-Gd, or semi-Gd, or persons.

    As you can see the fathers of our nation [ not Moses as Texas wants to put in text books] were very wise to keep the state and church separate. Both want to take control of the other, and we see what happens when that happens[ present day Iran & other Mid East European carved out tribal areas , Europe where the Catholics hunted [killed] protestants and in other countries vice versa],

  • FireEyes
    August 25, 2015 at 12:13 p.m.

    to 3WorldState1: George Washington dedicated this nation to Almighty God immediately after his first inauguration. The Founders made it abundantly clear that this nation AND the Constitution were founded on God and the Bible. It is you who do not know the Constitution or the true history of this nation.

    The phrase should stay.

  • 23cal
    August 25, 2015 at 12:36 p.m.

    FireEyes:
    About " The Founders made it abundantly clear that this nation AND the Constitution were founded on God and the Bible."
    Horse pucky.
    The Constitution is an entirely secular document without a single mention of God, Bible, Christianity, Yahweh, Jehovah, prayer, Ten Commandments, or anything of the sort. The United States of America was the first modern republic that was created on the foundation of reason, without seeking blessings from a god, without imploring divine assistance or invoking divine favor in its founding document. This fact was not overlooked when the Constitution was being debated. Very much to the contrary, the religious right of the founding generation angrily attacked it , warning that ratifying this godless document as-is would spell doom for the nation.
    *
    Some people are so desperate to see this nation be Christian that they are more than willing to distort the truth. The truth is that Christianity is never once referenced in the text of the Constitution. There is absolutely nothing in it that explicitly or implicitly suggests that our government has a religious foundation. The secular nature of our government is made clear on the very first line of our Constitution: 'We the PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, etc.'. The PEOPLE formed this government. No god came down from Mt. Olympus. No divine decree from Jesus. No pillar of fire appeared to lead our Founding Fathers to the Promised Land. This nation was founded on the consent of the governed.
    *
    Our founders were brilliant men. They did not approach the establishment of this nation lightly. Had they intended to establish a Christian nation, it would be abysmally negligent of them not to include that in the United States Constitution. It would be more than negligent — it would be absurd. They had no such intention. The only reference to religion in the Constitution specifies no religious test to hold public office.
    *
    I am so tired of revisionist theocrats who push the idea that because some of the founders were Christians that they wrote a constitution that mingled state and religion like fundamentalist theocrats of today would do. The founders had the good sense to separate church and state when they created the state.

  • 3WorldState1
    August 25, 2015 at 12:54 p.m.

    What 23 said.
    I want Christians to read this and listen. The separation between Church and State PROTECTS your religion and your religious beliefs! You want this to be the case (or should). You should fight for it. That is why our founders kept us secular. So no one religion could dominate another. That was the genius. It's sad that the need to have your religion be "the one", you would forsake our constitution. It is that, I'll use insane, insane drive or belief of religion that forced our founders to keep it out of our constitution.
    I can't believe this is such a difficult concept to understand.

    Well said 23.

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