[NOTE: This article was originally posted to my old website. However, the content is still highly relevant as more and more police departments (and politicians) continue flexing their faith-based muscles to follow Sheriff Rader’s lead.]
This week, Sheriff Doug Rader proudly announced that all law enforcement vehicles in Stone County, MO (just outside of Branson) would be adorned with the department’s new official motto. Was it, “To Protect and to Serve“? Nah… Was it the nation’s original, simple, and unifying national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – “out of many, one“? Nope. Was it the opening preamble of the U.S. Constitution, “We The People”? Sorry, Charlie – that’s too inclusive.
No, instead, in 2015, the publicly elected Sheriff of Y’allqaeda took it upon himself to follow an example set by past theocrats, Eisenhower and Truman – to disregard the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in order to endorse and promote his particular religion by adorning the back of every gun-toting paid-for-by-taxpayers law enforcement vehicle in the county with “In God We Trust” – making it that much easier to remind non-Christian citizens to, “Respect my God-given authority or I will taser your heathen a**!”
I think it’s important to point out that Rader refers to “In God We Trust” as “our National Motto” – but, who is this “our” in his sentence? According to the latest (enormous) Pew Research study on religion in the United States, 29.4% of the country is now willing to openly label themselves as “unaffiliated” with any religion. That’s almost 1/3rd of the population that doesn’t believe in the same god now referred to on the back of police vehicles. Let alone Christians of different denominations who have very different ideas about God. Simply put, that’s 16 of the department’s own staff (pictured above) that would statistically not share the views of their boss. (Of course, that would only be true if a Sheriff’s Office that is willing to put religious mottos on taxpayer-owned vehicles could actually be an “equal opportunity” employer and hire qualified officers regardless of their religious views. Rrriiigghhttt…)
But, wait – it gets better. It’s not just the cars that are adorned with Christian messages:
All that said, back to Rader’s original post: there is a sizable difference between a motto “on all our currency” (legal tender that sits in your wallet until you decide to spend it) and the motto being added to vehicles used by law enforcement authority figures (that should be completely unbiased, showing no preference for anyone or anything except fairness and justice, regardless of religion).
On the other hand, at least they are being blatantly transparent about their bias against almost 1/3rd of the population. A bias important enough to proudly display on every car in the department. Of course, atheists, Hindus, Scientologists, Muslims, and Buddhists should all know they will be treated equally under the law in Stone County, MO, right? (Rrriigghhttt…)
I’ll admit, I got the giggles from the Sheriff Department’s only (defensive and myopic) reply to thousands of comments on their Facebook post.
My immediate response to the sheriff’s post was to recall how other leaders of armed patrols used strikingly similar messages of theocratic grandstanding when overstepping their authority in clutches for power and control – from Nazis (yes, Nazis) to ISIS (yes, ISIS).
Of course, a lot has changed since the phrase became “our [opportunistic and outdated] national motto” in 1956…
“I am the most intensely religious man I know,” said Dwight Eisenhower. “A democracy cannot exist without a religious base.”
This, of course, coming from a born-again Christian who would become President of the United States and almost unilaterally changed the national motto from the beautifully unifying, E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”) to the religiously motivated and divisive In God We Trust – all as part of a propaganda campaign against the “godless commies” during the Red Scare. The brand new motto was being added to our money about the same time the phrase “under God” was forced into the Pledge of Allegiance. Of course, this all happened only two years after President Truman (a recent born-again Christian) proved his own allegiance to his religion by proclaiming (by federal law 36 U.S.C. § 119) the National Day of Prayer (along with another law (100-307) that would require all future presidents to do the same). One might suggest, “There’s a reason nobody complained back then – we were a much more Christian nation!” I would simply reply that this was in the era of McCarthyism, when tarring and feathering dissenters was to be expected.
Make no mistake, these remain the very telltale signs of theocratic meddling that our founding fathers fought so hard to escape (from the Church of England) and avoid through the careful construction of the Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” – The Establishment Clause (found within the First Amendment to the United States Constitution)
So… what does this small town sheriff have in common with these two American presidents? They all overstepped the intent and spirit of the establishment clause in order to endorse and promote their own religious beliefs from their publicly elected offices. In doing so, they have grossly disrespected the unity prescribed under the country’s original motto, “Out of many, one” – instead, ushering in and welcoming division among local citizens.
Don’t believe me? Just read the comment threads on the Sheriff’s post. The Sheriff specifically chose to (re)ignite a religious battle among otherwise unified and peaceful citizens going about their day, keeping their religions to themselves. As an authority figure of the state, the Sheriff is absolutely wrong to use his office to initiate religious debate. Period.
So… job well done, Sheriff Rader, a good and faithful servant doing his best to live a Biblical life by bringing division upon the land… Of course, by creating such division, what he is really doing is simply illustrating exactly why “there has been no better time than now” for our country to erase this shamefully divisive religious motto from the public sector all together and revert back to the original celebration of our country’s great melting pot of equal opportunity. Take the motto off the money, off the politician’s lapels, and certainly, most importantly – off of law enforcement vehicles! Once the lawsuits start rolling in, who picks up the bill for this public employee’s actions? I would hope that the county severs any legal backing of a theocratic God Cop and leaves him to pay his own legal fees.
SERIOUS QUESTION: If you trust in God so much, why all the weapons and body armor? Heck, why is there a police force at all? Wouldn’t it be more effective to just pray the crime away? (Okay, you caught me, that wasn’t really a “serious” question at all.)
As I drive through Stone County again in a few months, I’ll be sure tape over the horrifying “COEXIST” bumper sticker on my car and hide it from view of your God Cops. Because, how dare any messages of peaceful unity be displayed on Sheriff Rader’s turf? And I certainly won’t invite any Muslim friends to ride with me. But, nah… a religious zealot with a badge and a God-complex would never treat an apostate unfairly, would they?
No, no – I don’t actually have one of those COEXIST bumper stickers on my car. Unlike the Sheriff, I no longer see a need to wear my faith (or lack thereof) like a badge – especially not in the workplace. ;-)
E pluribus unum, folks – out of many, one.
– Horus Gilgamesh
P.P.S. – Every time somebody plays the “but, the decals don’t specify which god” card, an angel loses its wings.