Lawmakers voice support for Texas chief's 'In God We Trust' decals

The department put decals on their patrol vehicles and sparked complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation

By Matthew Waller
Times Record News

AUSTIN, Texas — State lawmakers stepped up in support of “In God We Trust” decals on Childress Police Department vehicles this week, the latest development in a spat between the North Texas law enforcement group and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The police chief’s answer to the foundation meanwhile: “Go fly a kite.”

State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, and state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, sent out statements backing the department that resides in their district.

“I stand firmly with Chief Adrian Garcia and the Childress Police Department as they protect their right to display ‘In God We Trust’ on patrol cars,” Perry said in his statement. “We live in a country with a rich history of celebrating faith and honoring religious liberty. It is un-American to suggest a police department should not be allowed to display our national motto.”

“Our law enforcement officers work hard to keep our communities safe and deserve our support, not demands like this,” Springer said in his statement. “We are in the middle of a spiritual battle in America right now, with the issue of religious liberty front and center. I am proud of Childress Police Department for standing strong.”

The police department put decals on their patrol vehicles in the 6,000-person agricultural community and then received a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that stands opposed to the national motto, which was adopted in the 1950s.

“I think with all the assaults happening on officers across the country and the two that happened in the past few days in Harris County and Abilene, it’s time we get back to where we once were,” The Associated Press reports Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia saying to the Red River Sun, a Childress-area newspaper. “This is our nation’s motto ... it’s even on our currency. It’s nothing new.”

Garcia could not be reached for comment on this story.

“We don’t think that it’s appropriate at all that religion should enter in the police force,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation.

Gaylor said they only act on local complaints, and that some people are worried that they might be profiled because of atheistic bumper stickers.

Gaylor said she preferred the old, unofficial motto, “E pluribus unum” which means “out of many, one.”

Garcia posted his letter of response to the foundation on Facebook:

“After carefully reading your letter I must deny your request in the removal of our (nation’s) motto from our patrol units, and ask that you and the Freedom From Religion Foundation go fly a kite.”

Gaylor joked that she would write “In reason we trust” on such a kite.

Responses as to law enforcement departments in Texas following suit were varied.

Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said his office planned to get such decals.

“We have got so far, five different business owners who want to provide them in its entirety,” Duke said. ”They will be bought with private citizen’s money and not with taxpayers money.”

Duke said he didn’t have permission to share the identities of the businesses. He took note of the many times people anonymously buy law enforcement personnel meals in restaurants when they’re not expecting it.

Duke said the decals are a reminder that God does keep people safe.

“I just think it’s just right,” Duke said. I’m not trying to shove anything down anyone’s throat. It’s on all of our currency, it’s on our coins.”

Several departments said they would not be getting decals, including the Abilene Police Department, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, and the Corpus Christi Police Department.

Tom Green County Sheriff David Jones said, taking in mind budget constraints, it’s something his office might look at in the future.

“I would certainly approve that decal,” Jones said.

A San Angelo Police Department spokesman said he hadn’t heard of any plans to introduce such a decal.

Copyright 2015 the Times Record News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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