When “In God We Trust” decals were put on Brevard County Sherif’s Department, Florida, new patrol vehicles, a woman found it displeasing.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey on Oct. 28 expressing the group’s anger with the message on the squad cars.
“In a time when citizens nationwide are increasingly distrustful of law enforcement officers’ actions, it is frightening and politically dubious for the local police department to announce to citizens that officers rely on the judgment of a deity, rather than on the judgment of the law,” Gaylor wore on the paper.
According to Gaylor’s view, the decals are a ‘misuse’ of taxpayer time and funds. She also claimed that the messages on the decals were a religious endorsement that exceeded the scope of the secular government.
However, Ivey held firm.
“They got a better chance of me waking up thin in the morning than they do of me not having that on our cars, and I think we both know that’s not going to happen,” he said. “It really represents everything that’s important to us here in our community.”
The officer went on to say that the group’s petulant whining did not deserve a response and that he is focused on the important things.
Actually, the decals are not costing any taxpayer money. A group called Boniface Heirs Automotive Group donated them to the department, Ivey said.
“We truly can’t thank A.J. and his team enough for all they continue to do for our community,” the sheriff said. “As was previously indicated, the design is only going on new vehicles, as they rotate into our fleet, and not on already existing vehicles.”
The new design for the cars also includes a sheriff’s star, a space shuttle, and an American flag.
“They greatly appreciated that we chose to honor the flag and principles of our great nation that our veterans fought to defend and wondered why it was not already emblazoned on every vehicle we have,” Ivey said.
“In God We Trust” was adopted as Florida’s motto in 2006, meaning that the state would allow municipalities to use the phrase as they see fit.
“’In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion,” Ivey said and confirmed that federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the use of the motto “in this context” is not unconstitutional. “Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”