A Christian monument will go back outside a police department in South Carolina after concerns about whether it violated the law. (Spoiler: It still does.)
A couple of weeks ago, the Tega Cay Police Department announced the new monument outside their building. It was a donation from a local women’s group that included a nice image of the department’s logo… and the words “Matthew 5:9” at the bottom. (That’s the Bible verse that includes the phrase “Blessed are the peacemakers.”)
It got even worse on the back, where the entire “Police Officer’s Prayer” was printed out — full of phrases calling on the “Lord” to give officers courage, strength, and continued dedication to the job.
This was a stand-alone Christian monument. It was an advertisement for the faith. More to the point, it was illegal.
It’s never good when the people tasked with enforcing the law don’t understand the law, but people spoke up about the inherent church/state separation problem that this monument caused, and the city responded by taking the monument down.
Hahaha I’m just kidding. They hastily covered up the explicitly religious words, as if no one would know what religion the monument was referencing, and pretended that took care of everything.
Not only was that a dumb way to “solve” the problem, it infuriated conservatives who saw it as anti-Christian. Though, to be fair, they see all forms of religious neutrality as anti-Christian.
The city’s member of Congress, Rep. Ralph Norman, even put out a campaign video denouncing the scratching out of his personal God’s name — as if Congress could somehow override this.
After all that chaos, the city decided to take the monument down — finally! — while they figured out their next steps.
The brief respite didn’t help. Because they’ve now chosen to reinstall the monument, with the original prayer on the back of it, but without the words “Matthew 5:9” on the front. They seriously think no one will think it’s Christian anymore.
The announcement was made on Facebook:
After careful consideration and much conversation with people on both sides of the discussion, City Council has made the decision that the Police Officer’s Prayer will be restored to its original condition and returned to the Fallen Officers’ Memorial located at the new police station. We want to thank everyone for voicing your opinion, as it’s not always easy to do so on such a sensitive subject.
As Mr. Dunn stated before Council July 15th, none of what has transpired was an attack on our Police Department or anyone’s faith. Our City Council and citizens have always been strong supporters of the men and women in blue. We’d like to thank Mr. Dunn and the others who spoke before Council. The respectful exchange of ideas and opinions is truly what makes local government extraordinary.
This was a tough week in Tega Cay. It is our hope that we can now move forward together and continue to be the strong, welcoming community that we have always been known for. Regardless of our different viewpoints, our people are what truly makes this City such a wonderful place.
That’s quite a cop out. (No pun intended.) The only reason it was a “tough week” is because the city council couldn’t decide whether or not to break the law, and their resolution was Yeah, sure, what the hell, why not.
They’re literally saying that the “prayer” will be reinstated.
There’s nothing about this monument that’s not promoting Christianity:
Whether any church/state separation group will file a complaint over this, I don’t know. But for now, we can at least acknowledge that conservative groups still don’t know how basic logic works. For instance, Hiram Sasser of First Liberty Institute said this monument was perfectly legal because “We won the case at the Supreme Court just last month.” He’s referencing the case involving the Giant Christian Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland… but the justices said that was only legal because it had been up for so many decades that its Christian purpose had been diluted.
This monument went up last week. You don’t get to cite “tradition” in its defense.
It’s an eyesore. And if the police think they need a prayer outside the building to give them strength, maybe what they really need is better training.
(Thanks to @TCRReece for the link. Portions of the article were published earlier)