Cops insist on putting “In God We Trust” on police cars

No comment needed; from the New York Times:

“If it’s on my money and it’s on the state flag, I can put it on a patrol car,” said [Polk County] Sheriff Moats, who wrote to Georgia’s sheriffs this year to promote the motto’s placement on law enforcement vehicles. “Just about every single day, I have another sheriff calling and saying, ‘I’ve done it’ or ‘Can you send me a picture of your patrol car?’ ”

Some officials contend that their display of the motto is elementary patriotism, a four-word way of “standing up for America, standing up for our country,” Sheriff Moats said. Others in law enforcement say the stickers are a response to the battering their profession’s reputation has taken after more than a year of high-profile killings and extraordinary scrutiny.

“With the dark cloud that law enforcement has been under recently, I think that we need to have a human persona on law enforcement,” said Sheriff Brian Duke of Henderson County, Tenn. “It gave us an opportunity to put something on our cars that said: ‘We are you. We’re not the big, bad police.’ ”

So that’s why we have this:

04trust-SUB-master675

Sheriff Johnny Moats’s department vehicle in Cedartown, Ga., the seat of Polk County. He bought the “In God We Trust” sticker with his own money after he heard that Missouri sheriffs had begun displaying them. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

And the only sensible response, from Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation:

“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,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that has demanded that law enforcement officials stop exhibiting the motto. “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.”

The cops respond:

“I don’t know why an atheist is so upset about us putting up ‘In God We Trust,’ ” Sheriff Moats said. “I’m not saying that they trust God. I’m saying that we, as the guys in this department who put this on our cars, we trust in God. And why is that a bad thing? Even if you don’t believe, you know God’s all about good.”

Does that mean that every cop who rides in those cars is a believer? And how do they know that “God’s all about good”? If that were the case, why would the cops have to deal with (and sometimes commit) the murder of innocent people?

The problem, of course, is that this motto has been repeatedly deemed Constitutional by the courts, and so the cops can use it with impunity. But it’s still a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

130 Comments

  1. ploubere
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Cops are not usually hired for their brains, in fact, being educated usually counts against you in getting hired. So they are more likely to embrace the simplistic notion that piety makes you a good person. You would think, though, from their experience in dealing with criminals that they would know that is not true.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Educated people seem about as likely to engage in the same simplistic thinking.

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Has anyone read –
      Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of
      America’s Police Forces
      by Radley Balko?

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        No, but it sounds interesting. Balko covers the bad-cop beat superbly.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        It’s on my shelf along with many other “to reads”. I saw a great interview on Real Time with the author.

      • Delphin
        Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes and it’s outstanding.

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      “You would think, though, from their experience in dealing with criminals that they would know that is not true.”

      Yes, but, educated or not, one characteristic many people who’re predisposed to theism share is a difficulty drawing reasonable inferences from empirical observation.

    • steve oberski
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Q: Why do the police always travel in threes?

      A: One to do the reading, one to do the writing, and the other keeps an eye on the two intellectuals.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        I was going to say too , here we have another demonstration of police intelligence.

      • Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        I believe that the British police are the best money can buy.

  2. alexandra
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    well! shouldn’t equal numbers of police cars have In Allah, or Buddha, or Ganesh or the Flying Spaghetti Monster We Trust?
    Will this go to the Courts- can’t see the ACLU letting it slide, or FFRF

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      I think Allah is encompassed by “God” per the first pillar of Islam: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” (Personally, I prefer the version Wolfgang Pauli cooked up at the 1927 Solvay conference on physics: “There is no God, and Paul Dirac is his prophet.”)

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      For the FFRF to take the case, I think they have to have a local person willing to complain. When I referenced this in a post I did, they were having trouble finding people willing to take a case against the police. Which is perfectly understandable.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Which makes me wonder if a cop riding around with a religious slogan on his vehicle would feel compelled to protect an atheist, especially one being attacked for being an atheist.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          That’s a bit how I feel. Which is ironically how this started – many Black communities feel that the police aren’t there for them, and in some cases it appears they might be correct.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            When the middle classes bumped up against the police in the protest era they found out what minorities had to deal with regularly.

            And what did the police end up being referred to then?

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

              Oink.

              But I’m not sure that the liberal middle class today completely trusts the police.

              • Michael Michaels
                Posted October 6, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

                A June 2015 gallop poll put police at a 52% trust level, combination of “great deal” and “Quite a lot”.

                Military 72%
                Small Business 67%
                Police 52%
                Church/organized religion 42%
                Medical system 37%
                Presidency 37%
                Supreme Court 32%
                Public Schools 31%
                Banks 28%
                Organized Labor 24%
                Newspapers 24%
                Criminal Justice system 23%
                TV News 21%
                Congress 8%

                http://www.gallup.com/poll/1597/confidence-institutions.aspx

                These levels of trust do not bode well for the US.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      That, approximately, was my first thought: “Which god”?

      • Graham Martin-Royle
        Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:18 am | Permalink

        Yep, there are hundreds of thousands of gods, which one are they referring to?

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted October 7, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

          I regularly ask “which god?” when anyone says stuff like “god bless you” or any of the conversational equivalents.

  3. Rich Hughes
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hopefully some non-believing police will file a “hostile work environment” lawsuit.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Might not be a wise career choice in Polk County, GA.

  4. Matt
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Hopefully a muslim cop will put “Allahu akbar” on his car because everyone knows God is all about good. See what the Texans have to say about that.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      See what the Texans have to say about that.

      “Well, y’all. About here, in Smith ‘n’ Wesson WE trust.”
      Errr, “Yee har”?

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      That would be great, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Muslims can’t seem to make it onto the force down there.

  5. Eric
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Since “In God We Trust” is in quotes maybe they mean it ironically.

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      “In God We Trust; That’s Why We Don’t Carry Any Weapons”

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      It would be a bit better and probably more accurate were it written as In “God” We Trust.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha, I thought the same thing. It also would be funny to write it as In God We “Trust”

  6. mpatrick65
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    And what about the cops who don’t believe and don’t put “In God We Trust” on their bumper? Will they be ostracized or marginalized? Will this be a de facto “religious test” for a position of “public trust”? Very disturbing. I’m glad I live in California.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      “I’m glad I live in California.”

      You’ll likely find equally silly things all over California.

  7. Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    A ‘human persona’ – his god is a human?

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Not technical human, but he is created in our image!

  8. Graham
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    “I’m saying that we, as the guys in this department who put this on our cars, we trust in God. And why is that a bad thing?”

    Because people entrusted with keeping us safe shouldn’t be placing their trust in an Invisible Magic Friend.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      But it’s just “the guys”. Maybe “the gals” think differently. 🙂

  9. Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Great, so that means they’re going to bless people and forgive them their crimes?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Right after they turn the other cheek.

  10. Gamall
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    > The problem, of course, is that this motto has been repeatedly deemed Constitutional by the courts

    *That* boggles my poor mind every time I think about it.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    … this motto has been repeatedly deemed Constitutional by the courts …

    Yeah, the courts have carved out this cockamamie “ceremonial deism” exception to the Establishment clause. You’d think believers would be offended at having the Almighty reduced to such ceremony, but few of them seem to have thought it through that far.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      The motto may be constitutionally covered by “ceremonial deism” but it should be disconcerting in light of vigilante George Zimmerman’s declaration on Sean Hannity that it was “the will of God” that he kill Trayvon Martin.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Heck, no. As far as they’re concerned, the more goddiness the better, no matter the form. “In God We Trust” is one of the true examples of the slippery slope.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    It’s just nonsense and it’s unconstitutional. Words are not what we are looking for in our police force. What we do look for is action in the proper amount and when necessary.

    If they want to pay for the cars they ride in, then maybe they can put something on the thing. You don’t get to write stuff on property you do not own. The taxpayers paid for the car and they pay your wages.

  13. Randy Schenck
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    It’s just nonsense and it’s unconstitutional. Words are not what we are looking for in our police force. What we do look for is action in the proper amount and when necessary.

    If they want to pay for the cars they ride in, then maybe they can put something on the thing. You don’t get to write stuff on property you do not own. The taxpayers paid for the car and they pay your wages.

  14. Bob Murray
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Annie Laurie Gaylor’s first statement is anything but bloody sensible! A thoroughly shitty and irrelevant thing for an intelligent person to say regarding the subject at hand

    • Sshort
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      again?

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Other than it was right on the money….

      • Geoff Benson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Agreed. I don’t really understand Bob Murray’s comment.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          I understand the words – his reasoning is beyond me. Imo he’s wrong, and would like to know his justification for his statement.

        • Bob Murray
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          Why would an intelligent person link the issue of Church/State separation with the slightly more contentious and serious issue surrounding Police behaviour. She made the connection for whatever reason, it seems fatuous.

          • eric
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

            Its not fatuous; what she’s saying is that the police are responding to criticism by putting a pious bumper sticker on their car rather than addressing the criticism.

            She sees this as analogous to a case where you say “Hey Alice, stop stealing pens from work, it’s wrong” and Alice replies “Jesus knows I’m good at heart” rather than admitting she’s a thief and changing her behavior.

            • Bob Murray
              Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

              The Police of Cedartown, Georgia (popn. 9750) have a perceived local issue regarding perception of the Police. It has been decided that a local way of addressing this is to put this stupid bloody motto on their patrol cars. Stupid small minded and parochial, agreed.
              For her to link it to the controversial issue of national Police behaviour seems to over-step the mark somewhat. Separation of Church and State? What about separating small town issues and rather more large scale and controversial national issues, issues in much larger towns and cities. I feel that she has been misguided in this comment. Especially for a person who is usually much more perceptive.

              • Diane G.
                Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

                Ferguson is a small town.

              • Bob Murray
                Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

                Ferguson is a suburb. From my map it appears to be a part of the rural hamlet of St Louis, Missouri. I am English and my US Geography may be skewed.
                I apologise for being sarcastic but as a cop I feel that this is a really poor conflation of two very different issues from a person who knows better.

              • Michael Waterhouse
                Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

                As a cop then I’ll put this to you.
                When the middle classes bumped up against the police in the protest era, they discovered what minorities have to deal with regularly.
                And realizing what the police can be like they came up with a four letter descriptor.
                I won’t say it, I don’t need to.

                Why the negative image that requires an appeal to a god to ameliorate?

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            Maybe you missed this:

            Others in law enforcement say the stickers are a response to the battering their profession’s reputation has taken after more than a year of high-profile killings and extraordinary scrutiny.

            It’s not Gaynor making the connection; it’s the cops themselves.

            • Bob Murray
              Posted October 6, 2015 at 1:02 am | Permalink

              I shamefacedly have to admit that I had missed that. That said, do you not think that it is a subtle piece of misdirection in that it is not a direct quote from an individual. A touch of personal opinion to drive the narrative? I may be getting paranoid now though.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            Really!
            The police have and will and do use any and every mechanism, of which there are already many, legal and convention, to absolve and excuse themselves and their colleagues from all sorts of irregularity including assault torture and murder.
            It is obvious what she and it is obvious that it is relevant.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            It is obvious what she meant.

    • Historian
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      “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.”

      I think the remark is intemperate and does the atheist cause no good. Gaylor admits that there is no relationship between police shooting people and the placement of the motto on the police cars. I doubt also that the police in Georgia affixed the motto to their cars to draw attention away from unlawful police shootings. Perhaps, it will marginally have this effect, but that is pure speculation. Atheists should stick to arguing that governmental bodies should not be associated with or promoting religion.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        These stickers have been going on police vehicles in counties in seven states that I know of. They themselves have said it’s because of the negative light police have been seen in lately, and that it’s a reaction to that.

        This is not a minor thing imo.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          Religion–first refuge of the guilty.

  15. kevin7alexander
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    In God we trust so we never shoot at Him.
    Everybody else can watch their back.

  16. Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    If the police are considered a part of the community, as is logical, having that statement on their cars (at least to me)indicates that they are speaking for the entire community. Thus the “we” refers to all,and the phrase becomes false. Besides, shouldn’t the police be better off saying something like “Trust in your local law enforcement”?

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Whatever happened to “to protect and to serve?”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that seems like a better motto – doesn’t even split an infinitive. Of course, it does leave itself open to ridicule and sarcasm (which IMO makes it even better).

  17. Stephen
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “I don’t know why an atheist is so upset about us putting up ‘In God We Trust,’ ” Sheriff Moats said. “I’m not saying that they trust God. I’m saying that we, as the guys in this department who put this on our cars, we trust in God. And why is that a bad thing? Even if you don’t believe, you know God’s all about good.”

    In the words of the immortal Jack Chick –

    HAW HAW HAW

  18. Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    In God We Trust

    In Cops We Don’t

  19. Jean Hess
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I would prefer the motto “Protect and Serve”.

    • eric
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Well that was obviously a bad motto because it places the emphasis on the wrong people; the value of the public rather than the value of the police officer. [/snark]

    • Posted October 5, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always been a bit dubious of the “protect and serve” motto because they never say who or what.

  20. Historian
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Since this motto is on our money, we should try to lay the groundwork to have the motto removed from it. I say groundwork because success is not likely any time soon. And despite the argument that the motto is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. We must abide by the decisions until overturned, if ever. Otherwise, we would be no better than Mike Huckabee, who counseled defiance of court rulings in the Kim Davis case. You can’t win every battle.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      The other question that is important would be, who decides this clever, none original motto goes on the police car. In the small town I live in it would have to be the major and city council who approve or allow this. That would be who I would deal with and not concentrate on the police.

      So lets go to the major and city council and ask them to get the stuff off the cars or work on getting them voted out.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        It’s really hard to be an elected official in a small town and vote against God.

        • Randy Schenck
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but at least you are going to the right place to complain. Why can’t I find the “y” on the keyboard? Mayor, there I did it.

          All the conversation seems to be about the cops but they are on down the food chain. The Chief of police works for the city manager or in some places the mayor and the city manager works for the city council. What would go nicely on the cars is: Cute slogans do not get the job done.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

            LOL, yes!

    • eric
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      This has been tried a number of times already. I expect ceremonial deism is here to stay, at least until there’s a significant change in the circuit and supreme court membership.

      Frankly I’m more bothered by the expense and the possible offense caused to non-Christian officers than I am the potential endorsement issues with the public. In most cases, if you’re viewing the back of the police car, you haven’t been stopped by them.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if you could push some Satanist rituals in as part of ceremonial deism? The Satanists have nice costumes & they really know how to do ritual right.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      As Eric says, it’s been attempted many times. I believe you could still find a website pushing it.

      One of the problems is that some atheists themselves protest that this is just a trivial matter, not something we should waste time on; despite all the evidence–such as this instance–that it’s used enthusiastically by the “America-is-a-Christian-nation club.”

  21. Scott Draper
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “The problem, of course, is that this motto has been repeatedly deemed Constitutional by the courts, and so the cops can use it with impunity.”

    Maybe….this is a different context, so perhaps it might still lose in court.

  22. Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “If it’s on my money…”

    E Pluribus Unum (“from many, one”) is on US money as well.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Would be nice to see that on a police car.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha except I’d take it as “mess with one of us and you mess with all of us” which maybe would be a little amusing.

        • Derek Freyberg
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but I think that’s really the case.

  23. Jeff Ryan
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Actually, this may be an opportunity to deal with that very issue. The courts have pooh-poohed the matter as if it were de minimus, but it really isn’t. It’s one thing to have it on money that no one looks at. It’s another to have it thrust in your face.

    With luck, there’ll be one cop who says, “No. I don’t want to drive around with that. I’m an atheist.”

    • ploubere
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I live in a suburban city outside of Nashville and know one atheist cop here, but he is a significant minority. I doubt there would be one in Polk County, Georgia.

  24. Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    How do precidents like this work? The elephant (ahem!) in the room ITSM is precisely the use on the currency (which of course is relatively new compared to the age of the country, but still …)

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      ITSM? – is the Spaghetti Monster?

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps he meant, ISTM? (It seems to me.)

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Now that you’ve said so, I can see it. 🙂

          I’m not very good at internet slang – I mostly have to look it up.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

            I saw you SMH…er, SYH…not long ago.

            😀

            FWIW, I googled ITSM–“IT Systems Management” came up. I assumed Keith didn’t mean that… 😀

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:01 am | Permalink

              I can manage one or two. I use imo a lot. I know a lot of people prefer imho, but it’d be dishonest to call my opinions “humble” 🙂 I use SMH, and WTF. Usually someone’s used them on me, and I’ve looked them up to see what they’re talking about!

              I said WTF to my sister one day – couldn’t use the words because we had her kids with us. They were trying to work out what we were talking about. The older one worked it out, but the younger one decided it meant “Who’s the fatty!”

              • Diane G.
                Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:53 am | Permalink

                LOL.

                Wait until the younger one takes either the acronym or her explanation of it to her classroom. Her teacher will be thrilled. 😉

        • Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Yes, typo!

  25. Markham Thomas
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    In god we trust… just another example of passing the buck.

  26. Les Robertshaw
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Are the cops anything like the Biblical temple police? What if a cop is an atheist ? Can he opt out of driving with that motto on the car?
    If the sheriff is talking about the Xtian God the Old Testament shows that this God is not all about good. Evidently Moats hasn’t read all of the Old Testament.
    Police office professing to trust in God is very frightening to say the least.

    • Les Robertshaw
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      officers

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I find this quite threatening too. I would not feel as confident in our police if they started invoking God. These police officers surely mean well, but they’re breaking the constitution and creating two classes of citizens – those who believe in their god and those who don’t. Those who don’t can’t help but wonder if they will be treated equally.

      The police are supposed to be there for everybody on the same basis. Being a Christian is no guarantee a police officer is a good person.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        We can all chock it up as one of those southern things. They would wrap the curb and gutter in g*d we trust if they had enough paint.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 5, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

          I don’t doubt it. I don’t know how you cope day to day!

          • Randy Schenck
            Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            We come to PCC for guidance and reflection. Sounds a bit corny but it’s true.

  27. Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    This is an issue where I live as well. Our police and sheriff’s dept. cars all have “in god we trust” on them. It’s to be expected though since I live in the Bible Belt.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      As are all the states this has happened in that I’ve heard of so far: Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Maybe it’s replacing the Stars and Bars.

  28. Doris Fromage
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Fascists.

  29. harrync
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The police are upset that blacks don’t trust them, and Hispanics treat them with suspicion. So the answer: “Let’s tick off atheists, too.”

  30. rudolphpaul
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    When faced with danger do Polk County Deputies trust God for protection or do they radio their mere mortal fellow officers for backup? Oh Ye Of Little Faith.

  31. Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Why people trust in non-existent sky-fairies is beyond me, but they shouldn’t be able to put their ignorant superstitions on publicly owned flags, cars, money, monuments, etc.

  32. steve oberski
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The question is not whether the police trust in god, it’s whether the people that pay their salaries trust the police.

  33. tomh
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    @ Bob Murray wrote:
    “The Police of Cedartown, Georgia (popn. 9750) have a perceived local issue regarding perception of the Police. It has been decided that a local way of addressing this is to put this stupid bloody motto on their patrol cars.”

    This is not just one small town in Georgia. Did you read the article? “In recent months, dozens of Southern and Midwestern law enforcement agencies have added the axiom to squad cars,” many of them much larger than Cedartown. This is something that’s spreading around the country, partly to thumb their nose at critics of religion, as shown by a police chief in Texas wrote to Gaylor, suggesting, “that you and the Freedom From Religion Foundation go fly a kite.”

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes, see Heather’s post in comment thread 27.

    • Bob Murray
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      An un-sourced ‘weasel-word’ – Recent Months and Dozens of law enforcement agencies.
      Out of 3,143 counties and county-equivalents in the United States.
      I read the article and did a little bit of digging around it.

      And I still think she was daft to say what she is reported to have said.

      • tomh
        Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Well, in Texas alone, the FFRF sent letters to more than 30 police departments objecting to placing the motto on police vehicles. Two Republican legislators have since asked Ken Paxton, the Attorney General,
        for an opinion on the practice, and it’s not hard to see what they’re going to get, since Paxton has already proclaimed his support for it. What makes you think this is a one-off thing in a small town in Georgia?

  34. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    What’s next, “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles?

    • Christopher Bonds
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      You beat me to it!

  35. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    ” …. because we sure as hell can’t trust the cops”.

    Sorry, instinctive cynical reaction.

    cr

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      Nothing to apologize about.

  36. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    On second thoughts, it’s probably not as bad as “to protect and serve”, which instantly sends my BS-o-Meter off the scale.

    (I know I’m guilty of stereotyping there, and there may be, somewhere, some police officer who actually believes that.)

    cr

  37. Hempenstein
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to hope that this might initiate the beginning of the end of this.

    Relatedly, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill authorizing display in highschools, but far as I can tell it has stalled since then (never made it to a Senate vote).

  38. Dave
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    “In God We Trust” What is that supposed to mean?

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s an American idiom; a rough equivalent in plain English is something like “listen you fucking commies, I’m a right-wing white male, and I will kick your head in if you act uppity toward me.”

  39. MadScientist
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I think that if anyone had read the bible they would be a fool to trust in god – and if they believe in god but haven’t read the bible they’re equally a fool. Having bona fide fools in the police force doesn’t give me any comfort.

  40. Derek Freyberg
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    To be fair to a lot of police departments, one of which is mine, they don’t pull this sh*t.
    I do not love them, even though they are there local gendarmerie, but they are at least not doing the “I love G*D, what do you m*therf*ckers do?” nonsense. In fact, they seem pretty sensible. I’d surely call them if I needed to.

  41. Merilee
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  42. Mark Joseph
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    “When people say ‘We need religion” what they really mean is ‘We need police’.” (Twain, or Mencken, I think)

  43. Posted October 6, 2015 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    Why trust in God anyway? He hasn’t done a very good job so far. The most volatile, fickle, vengeful, whimsical evil little mother-fucker there’s ever been. Not someone to trust, in my opinion.

  44. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    In the long run, this could prove a propitious turn of events — a blessing in disguise, if you will — since it may eventually force the courts to reconsider and abandon the “ceremonial deism” doctrine and to enforce fully the Establishment clause. The thing is, that doctrine is rather well established and, were it to be disavowed, there would be a host of practices that have either been around a long time and/or have been repeatedly upheld as constitutional, that would then need be held unconstitutional — resulting in, for example, the striking of “under God” from the pledge of allegiance, the effacement of “in God we trust” from our dollar bills, and the prohibition of the opening invocatory prayers of Congress.

    The courts will be hesitant to take such a step unless they deem such practices as slapping religious slogans in public spaces to be getting completely out of hand. Until then it would be difficult to muster five votes on the US Supreme Court to reject the ceremonial deism doctrine (and, perhaps, even to get the four votes necessary to grant cert to consider the question). There are several justices (and maybe not only on the Court’s conservative wing) who would be reluctant to have the current Court go down in history as the one which banished so much pious sentiment from the nation’s public life.

    Federal judges are appointed for life, which generally frees them from the political processes. But the federal courts (and most especially SCOTUS) are well aware of their institutional limitations. (Every justice to ever sit on the Supremes has been versed on the constitutional crises narrowly averted in the Court’s history.) The Court has no enforcement arm; it commands no troops, has no agencies or bureaus at its beck and call. It relies upon the other branches, and ultimately upon the people, to uphold its judgments. Thus, while the Court is sometimes willing to lead from a vanguard position slightly ahead of the polity — as it did in Brown v. Board of Education, and in Loving v. Virginia, and in last term’s Obergefell decision upholding same sex marriage — the Court is chary to get too far in front of, let alone in direct opposition to, public opinion (and it has historically paid a price whenever it has done so).

  45. Mattapult
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Please, please, please, send one of those cars if Kim Davis needs a ride back to jail. A photo of that irony would be priceless.

  46. Delphin
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m not convinced that in this context it will survive. I can think of two kinds of plausible suits: an atheist cop or an atheist arrestee who makes a comment about the motto, or an arresting cop who does. I’m hopeful.

  47. Posted October 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Always nice to see someone responsible for enforcing the law willfully disobey it.


%d bloggers like this: