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Oklahoma Sheriff Places 'In God We Trust' Decals on Fleet Vehicles, Prompts Polarizing Viewpoints for Christians and Non-Christians

( [email protected] ) Nov 18, 2015 12:00 PM EST
'In God We Trust' decals are being placed on Creek County Sheriff Office fleet vehicles in east-central Oklahoma. However, Sheriff John Davis said it is not for religious reasons.
Photo: Creek County Sheriff's Office

'In God We Trust' decals are being placed on Creek County Sheriff Office fleet vehicles in east-central Oklahoma. However, Sheriff John Davis said it is not for religious reasons.

"This is patriotic," Davis told News 9 TV in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. "It's our national motto. It's not that the Creek County Sheriff's Office is trying to impose or force religious beliefs on anybody."

Creek County Sheriff Office vehicles previously carried the state seal and the American Flag. Davis said he wanted another layer of symbolism on all detective and deputy vehicles. "The way our country is now, we need all the patriotism we can get," he said in the TV interview.

The 'In God We Trust' phrase has been on U.S. currency for 151 years. President Dwight Eisenhower declared it to be the national motto in 1956.

Davis said his office had gotten mostly positive feedback. However, one public comment left online today by William Shelton in response to the TV coverage indicated a different reaction:  "The sheriff is being disingenuous and he knows it. His use of the decal is as 'patriotic' as the ten commandments monument was historical - and he knows it. If he wants to be patriotic, why doesn't he honor the national motto E Pluribus Unum, you know, the one that was displaced by the current ones during the Red Scare of the fifties by politicians determined to get those 'godless atheists'?"

In a comment on the Creek County Sheriff Facebook page from Betty Marie Bowen, she said the decals "makes me very proud of our Creek County sheriff's office."

Georgia Weston Keck stated she would like to see this decal on every vehicle in America.

"Keep on keepin' on sheriff's office. I love it," stated Lee Dawes.

But, there are others who did not agree with the decal application on public property.

Baleb Cates  said, "I hope they didn't use tax payer money to put this endorsement of 'God' on Government property. Turns out Police officers don't read the constitution."

Michael Robinson posted:  "I don't want my government to trust God. I want them to be trusting intellect and the rules set forth by our constitution." He added, "Disclaimer: I am a Christian."

Creek County Sheriff Car Decal
Photo: Creek County Sheriff's Office

lengthy post was offered by Robert Ray, representing what he called the "The Original Motto Project:"  "E Pluribus Unum - It has come to our attention that it is the intention of this government agency to prominently display the motto In God We Trust. We would like to make our dissent known and offer an alternative. First, however, let us introduce ourselves. We are The Original Motto Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the prominent display of the Latin motto E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) as one that represents the truly inclusive nature of American society. Our message is one of inclusiveness: it takes all points of view, and sometimes the quarrels between those competing viewpoints, to make America the richly pluralistic society that it is. In God We Trust, though it is currently enshrined by law as the official motto of the United States, is inherently divisive. Not only does it exclude a significant minority - i.e. the nonreligious - but it also excludes those religions that believe in multiple gods, as well as those that believe in none (like Buddhists). Furthermore, it is an unfortunate fact that many government agents and agencies who display the motto believe it to be an overt endorsement of Christian belief. When used in such a context, In God We Trust violates the most sacred of American principles: the separation of church and state. E Pluribus Unum, we believe, is a motto that encapsulates the variety of experience and belief in this great country. It first appeared on the proposal for the seal of the United States in 1776, where it represented the union of colonies, who, despite deeply rooted differences amongst themselves, united to throw off the shackles of oppressive and arbitrary governance. The seal prominently displaying E Pluribus Unum, was approved by Congress in 1782. While you may still choose, of course, to display the motto In God We Trust, we here at The Original Motto Project humbly ask that you consider a compromise that can satisfy both viewpoints on this issue: mount E Pluribus Unum (or its English equivalent) in an equally prominent and honorable place alongside In God We Trust. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

Natalie Schirmer said, "I am concerned by your overtly religious decal on your vehicles...do you see how this could be seen as a hostile signal to nonbelievers?"

"Why can you not stop trying to force your religion onto everybody else? That is no different to a dictatorship as you would have under a theocracy. You are forcing all others to bow to your specific and particular religion/mythology," posted Brien Doyle.

"We live in a democratic republic under a Constitution, which by definition, is supposed to defend all peoples' rights, not just the majority. Why do you feel justified in abrogating other people's rights? These stickers, on government vehicles, are a clear discriminatory act against me, and my family! These stickers exclude a whole segment of American citizens from the community. They are divisive, and the offices using them consciously know that this is a divisive act, and are purposely continuing to offend the citizens in their communities. Are these the acts of true Americans? We fought a war of independence to stop the vagaries of dictatorships; the dictatorships of royalty, military and religion."

Jeff Kitchens posted that he would take action if the decals are not removed:  "Mr. John Davis, sheriff of Creek County, I expected better of you than this when I cast my vote for you as sheriff while I still lived in Creek County. I don't know you well although we have crossed paths many times over the years(on good terms), but grew up with your wife, and even though she and I and you disagree on many things when it comes to religion and politics, I still respect you both as decent caring human beings which helped sway my vote for you. I ask that you please remove these stickers immediately as they do not represent the entirety of the community you have sworn to protect and serve. It doesn't matter that you or a majority of your community may be Christians, but this is a slap in the face of those decent people who do not follow your same ideologies. You and your officers are not serving the Christian church alone, but the entire community of many backgrounds and beliefs. Please I plead with you to do the right thing before I am forced to use my connections nationwide to make you remove these at great cost to the good taxpayers of Creek County through a long court battle wasting everyone's time. Thank you for your time and service to all the people of Creek County and I look forward to a response from you or a representative of your department very soon."

Davis said, "If I have an employee that comes to me and says 'I don't want it on the car that I'm assigned.' I don't have a problem with that. Then I'll allow them to make that decision whether or not they want it on that car."

The sheriff said no taxpayer money went toward buying the decals, and that they were donated. Credit for the decals on the Creek County Sheriff's Facebook page is going to Edd Alexander, a resident of Mannford, Okla.

The Creek County Sheriff's homepage also includes a section devoted to Psalms 138:7.

Creek County Sheriff Car Decal
Photo: Creek County Sheriff's Office

Tags : In God We Trust, Creek County Sheriff Office, patriotism, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sheriff, In God We Trust Decals, Oklahoma Sheriff, Sheriff John Davis, John Davis, U.S. Currency, The Original Motto Project, E Pluribus Unum