Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida says that he will not be removing “In God We Trust” vehicles, despite the objections of a small group of agnostics and atheists. The claim is that “In God, We Trust” is a Christian message and therefore does not belong on a government vehicle. The inclusion of the National and state motto is a part of an ongoing redecaling of the department’s vehicles The complaint is being pushed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. (FFRF) In a letter to the sheriff Co-president of FFRF Annie Laurie Gaylor declared that “Spending taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars is beyond the scope of secular government.” She also suggested that the message indicated, “that officers rely on the judgment of a deity rather than on the judgment of the law.” Despite threats of a Federal lawsuit from the FFRF, Sheriff Wayne is standing his ground declaring that the addition of the motto has the support of the community at large and that it will cost neither taxpayer time nor money because an organization called Boniface Heirs Automotive Group has agreed to pay for that part of the redecaling bill.

The main argument against such complaints is the fact that “In God, We Trust” is the official motto about the United States and Florida and as such its appearance on government vehicles is appropriate. Furthermore, it is not an exclusively Christian message. “In God, We Trust” is a message that would be agreed to by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other religions as well. If the sheriff was using the phrase “In Jesus, we trust” those making the complaint might have a point, but no specific religion is being promoted by the reference to God because it is just a general reference to the deity. In referring to officers relying on God rather than the law, the FFRF is creating a false dilemma by claiming that it has to be one or the other when it does not have to be. Ultimately, this type of complaint is based on people simply being offended about the phrase rather than being harmed in any objective manner. The placement of the national motto on a police car bumper is not a law. It requires nothing of any citizen that does not approve of it. It does not harm them in any objective manner.

Sheriff Wayne decided is not standing alone in defending his decision, County Commissioner John Tobia. Legal precedent is also on the side of Sheriff Wayne in this regard. Case after case has supported the posting of the national motto on public property and this includes police vehicles. These types of threats are generally used as bullying tactics in hopes of getting the community to back down and bow the knee to the atheist community. In this case, the FFRF has picked the wrong sheriff to go up against. Sheriff Wayne knows the law and firmly believes that he is in the right. Because of this, he is refusing to back down, and he clearly will continue to do so.