A separation of church and state group wants Texas police departments to remove the words "In God We Trust" from patrol cars. One chief has told them to "go fly a kite."
At the Childress Police Department, "protect and serve" is just as boldly displayed on patrol units as the national motto "In God We Trust" as seen in these photos from the department's Facebook page.
The small, North Texas agency was one of 57 nationwide to get a letter from the freedom from religion foundation--urging the removal of the religious decal.
"We are getting a lot of concern from non-believers in these smaller communities, where they feel they will be targeted," said Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "These sheriffs and police think they take guidance from God instead of our civil law and that's scary."
Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia sent the group a response and posted it for all to see. He told them to "go fly a kite."
"Our response is well, if we flew that kite we'd put the words 'in reason we trust' on it and this is what we're asking many police and sheriff's agencies. If you won't take 'in God we trust' off, then let us supply you with decals that say in reason we trust and put them side by side. Represent us too," said Gaylor.
Jonathan Saenz runs the counter to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Texas Values, and calls the argument a waste of taxpayer time.
"Display of the national motto for a long time has been constitutional for state officials and for people to publicly display. I mean it's on our money. There's no question," said Saenz.
Attorney General Ken Paxton showed his support for the Childress chief last week on Twitter.
"In God We Trust" represents a historical premise on which our great nation was founded. I support Chief Garcia. pic.twitter.com/dyhBq0J7vv— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) October 2, 2015
But on Monday, Senator Charles Perry and Representative Drew Springer sent him this letter asking for an official opinion on the matter to give departments clarity as to the legality of displaying the words.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas says police have more pressing issues to worry about.
"It does not violate the first amendment in any way, shape or form. The courts have ruled that. If it brings any comfort to an officer, he or she in Childress Texas or anywhere else in Texas, CLEAT says let's not mess with that," said spokesman John Moritz.
Ken Paxton's office released this statement regarding the request for opinion: "This is an important issue for the state and we will go through the opinions process to make a determination on the law, as we do with all attorney general opinions."
The Kirbyville Police Department in East Texas also received a letter.