After the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded that decals bearing the motto "In God we trust" be removed from patrol vehicles, Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia in Texas simply told the atheist organization to "go fly a kite."
"After carefully reading your letter, I must deny your request in the removal of our Nations (sic) motto from our patrol units, and ask that you and the Freedom From Religion Foundation go fly a kite," wrote Garcia in a letter to Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Chief Garcia posted a photo of his letter on the police department's official Facebook page, writing, "Ok so here it is I received a letter from the freedom of religion foundation, demanding we remove the 'In God We Trust" off our patrol units. So I responded back with this letter."
Speaking with Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning, Garcia explained that the motto was meant to be a rallying cry after the death of fellow Texas lawman Darren Goforth last month. Goforth, a Harris County Deputy Sheriff, was shot 15 times and killed during an ambush at a suburban gas station.
"With all the assaults that are happening across America on law enforcement, I just felt that it was time to have somewhat of a rally cry. And what better thing to say it than have our national motto on our patrol units?" Garcia said.
Sheriff Garcia is not the only law enforcement officer to be targeted by the atheist group; as reported by the Gospel Herald, the FFRF sent letters to 30 sheriffs' and police departments around the country threatening to sue those using the national motto on their vehicles.
"It is inappropriate for the sheriff's office to display 'In God We Trust' on county property," Gaylor wrote. "The fact that these stickers were privately funded indicates that you know it is inappropriate for the government to fund religious statements."
In 2013, the FFRF and 19 plaintiffs also sued the Treasury Department, arguing that the motto's usage on public buildings and property breached the wall between church and state.
In a joint statement in support of Garcia, state Sen. Charles Perry and Rep. Drew Springer agreed that the Freedom From Religion Foundation's request is "un-American."
"'In God We Trust' was designated the national motto of the United States in 1956 after legislation passed by Congress was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. The group behind the letter to Childress, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has unsuccessfully fought to remove 'In God We Trust' from other government fixtures such as currency and courthouses in the past," said the statement.
"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," said Perry. "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," said Springer. "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."