Police Agencies Defy Critics and Show ‘In God We Trust’

Oct 6, 2015

Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

By Alan Blinder and Richard Pérez-Peña

The chief deputy to Sheriff Johnny Moats of Polk County appeared in an office doorway one morning this month with a message he knew would delight his boss: Another Georgia lawman had heeded Sheriff Moats’s suggestion to add “In God We Trust” decals to official vehicles.

It was a small part of what has emerged as a big moment for the national motto, which has long been cherished by many Christians, criticized by those who say it infringes on the separation of church and state, overlooked by plenty and safeguarded by courts. In recent months, dozens of Southern and Midwestern law enforcement agencies have added the axiom to squad cars, usually to the vexation of vocal, often distant critics, and at the personal expense of sheriffs, police chiefs or rank-and-file employees.

“If it’s on my money and it’s on the state flag, I can put it on a patrol car,” said 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?’ ”

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17 comments on “Police Agencies Defy Critics and Show ‘In God We Trust’

  • Can you imagine police cars bearing that (stupid and retarded) motto… in ANY European country ??? Just like : “Nous avons confiance en Dieu” in big letters on every French paddy wagon ? America is really, really sick regarding religion and religious lobbying.

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  • x-bone
    Can you imagine police cars bearing that (stupid and retarded) motto . . .

    Not quite the Police but there was a time the German Army had “Gott mit uns” on their belts. If I remember correctly those people were not totally unlike some of the religious right.

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  • So will they be fining – or even arresting people – for failing to go to church on Sundays? Will you just get a caution for shooting muslims, atheists and other non christians . Can ‘non believers’ now expect to be framed for crimes committed by god-botherers of a particular clique. This is utterly insane and deeply worrying. There seems to be an underlying inference in all of this that the police exist to enforce the will of some non existent infallible deity, whose will can be defined politically. This puts the police above the law of the land. Sheriff Moat is no more than the Kim Davis of law enforcement.

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  • 13
    Ted Foureagles says:

    In the 1970s in North Carolina I was convicted of a traffic offense. Back then and back there showing up in court with long hair and a beard (irony?) assured that things wouldn’t go well for you. One of the first things that the judge asked was what church I attended. I answered “none” and part of my sentence was to attend his church for a year.

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  • In Atheists we trust, now there’s a bumper sticker I would stick everywhere, particularly on the back of our community assets.

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  • At one time I lived in Polk County, Ga., fortunately it wasn’t very long. At the bottom of the license plate there is a sticker that reads the county’s name, or one has the option to choose a sticker that reads “In God We Trust”. I propose that non-believers have the option to choose a sticker that reads “In Reality I Believe”.

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  • While I like zula’s “In Atheists we Trust” and MykelM’s “In reality I believe, ”
    I think I’d like “Trust Science – nothing else works” for my bumper sticker.

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  • Genocide, slavery, commissioning infanticide, rape, persecution of non-xtians and compulsory circumcision and animal sacrifice are now all lawful in Polk County. God says so and we should trust him. They should put flashing blue and red illuminated crosses on the roof of their cars.

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