It was August when we learned that the taxpayers of Bradley County (in Cleveland, Tennessee) would be on the hook for $41,000 in damages and legal fees to settle a lawsuit because Sheriff Eric Watson wouldn’t stop promoting Christianity on the Sheriff’s Department’s official Facebook page.
It’s not even a year later and Watson is right back at it, putting “In God We Trust” stickers on the backs of all vehicles.
“These four words are not just patriotic, but simply, part of this country’s heritage,” Watson said in a news conference at his office, standing with a handful of private donors who funded the decal initiative. “For the past several months, I’ve been considering adding ‘In God We Trust’ to our agency’s fleet vehicles, and I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from the community when discussing this idea at various civic organization meetings.”
Of those six private donors, the Times Free Press notes that five of them represented local churches. And they knew damn well what this was really about. Patriotism was just the cover story.
“In the times that we have, it’s important that we stand up for our beliefs,” Alecia Kramer, minister of Church of God Jerusalem Acres, said after the conference. “We get so much negativity that we need to also give some positive out there, especially in the news media. This is something that’s positive and we need to — as leaders, especially as Christian leaders — stand together and be unified.“
You also have to appreciate this Freudian slip:
Pastor David Kramer, her husband, said their congregation also was behind the decal message.
“We agree with [what] the pastor — er, the sheriff — is doing in Bradley County and we wanted to show our support,” he said. “Also, we think when a police car arrives at your situation, whether it be an accident, or whether it be an emergency or a house fire or anything, we just think we want to see those words, ‘In God We Trust,’ because we do trust in God.”
This is obviously about promoting Christianity. But as we’ve seen far too many times, “In God We Trust” is generally ignored by the courts because it’s seen as ceremonial and not an overt promotion of Christianity.
That said, I’d be concerned about whether Sheriff Watson’s staff would treat a driver with atheist bumper stickers the same way they’d treat a driver with a Jesus Fish logo.
American Atheists, which sued Watson’s office last time, offered to donate “We the People” decals. But that suggestion didn’t get anywhere. Maybe because this Sheriff’s Office doesn’t give a damn about all the people. Only Christians who agree with them.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to everyone for the link)