A furor involving a small-town Texas police department and national secular organization has reached the state attorney general’s office, and may wind up in court, reports the Texas Tribune. At issue is whether putting “In God We Trust” stickers on police patrol cars violates the U.S. constitution. After getting a complaint from someone in Childress, a Panhandle town of 6,000, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the police department a letter asking it to stop using the motto. The Wisconsin-based foundation, a national church-state watchdog group, says that placing the slogan on a police vehicle breaches the wall separating church and state.
Police Chief Adrian Garcia responded, “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.” That response, which Garcia posted on his department's Facebook page had been liked more than 170,000 times, shared by more than 145,000 accounts and drawn about 20,000 comments as of yesterday. Yesterday, the two state legislators representing Childress asked state Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in. The secular group’s Annie Laurie Gaylor contends that 24 percent of the U.S. population is “nonreligiious” and that police should not be wrapping themselves in a “mantle of piety” when they are under criticism for excessive use of force.