Written by Don Byrd
Apparently, one of the next frontiers of religious liberty controversy may be the side of a patrol car. Especially in Texas.
Earlier, I wrote about growing disputes over police cars with decals reading “In God We Trust” in certain counties in the Lone Star State. Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbott has even gotten involved. In response to complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, he issued an opinion that the decals do not violate the separation of church and state.
In Alpine County, however, police cars were adorned not with the “In God We Trust” motto but with a cross. After a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of the cross decals, county officials have now decided to remove them to settle the case.
The Austin American-Statesman reports:
Leaders in the rural county on the Mexico border later approved a policy banning political, religious, commercial and personal symbols from government vehicles. County commissioners last week approved the settlement and agreed to pay about $22,000 for the foundation’s legal fees and court costs.
“It was just a business decision. There was no reason to fight anything,” attorney Greg Hudson, who represented the county, told the Austin American-Statesman. “I think the county’s position is, let’s save this fight for another day; we’ve taken care of this issue internally.”
A wise decision. Law enforcement officers serve and protect all members of the community. Residents should not have to wonder whether police protection is in any way dependent on a religious inquiry. A decal is not quite as outrageous as one *(former) Indiana law enforcement officer’s method, but it’s not all that far off. Decals on police cars can also give the impression of endorsement from the entire force. When it comes to government officials better to send an inclusive message, rather than risk the appearance of promoting religion.