NEW ORLEANS — The Freedom from Religion Foundation has said that it has no plans to sue the Covington Police Department over its recent use of "In God We Trust" stickers on its police vehicles.
The foundation, however, believes that this a divisive message meant to split communities between Christian insiders and those who practice minority religions, or no religion, who are made to feel like outsiders in their own community, Sam Grover, Freedom for Religion Foundation’s staff attorney, recently told the Louisiana Record.
“The Freedom from Religion Foundation is actively opposed to this practice and we are doing everything we can to represent Americans excluded by this religious phrase,” Grover said.
Following the recent shootings of two Baton Rouge police officers and a Jefferson Parish county deputy, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz decided to place the stickers sporting the national motto on police vehicles.
“It seems like police officers are being assaulted more frequently,” Lentz recently told the Louisiana Record. “I recalled seeing a law enforcement agency in Texas place stickers on the back of their vehicles with the motto “In God We Trust,” and after doing some research I found that I was within the legal guidelines to place our national motto on the back of our police cars.”
He was fully prepared to pay for the full cost of the decals himself, but when the owner of a local business learned what he was doing, he donated the entire cost of the order.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation believes that placing stickers on police vehicles is simply a political tool.
“The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s position is that the national motto is being used by police departments as a political tool to pander to religious citizens at the expense of religious minorities and the nonreligious, for whom 'In God We Trust' does not apply,” a representative of the foundation said.
Lentz is aware that not everyone is going to agree with his decision, but states that he is getting positive feedback from the public.
“The response from our community has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “In fact, I went back to the vendor to personally purchase 100 more decals to give away when I learned that people were going into the business buying the decals by the hundreds.”
Not only that, but the neighboring police department of Bogalusa has also started placing the decals on its cars, Lentz said.
“We are a close knit community,” he said. “We hold close our values we were brought up on and our core values as an agency. To display our national motto on the back of our cars in a passive way is a sign of where we came from and hope for the future."