An angry small town mayor in Georgia is threatening an atheist with arrest after atheist complains about “In God We Trust” stickers going on police vehicles.
Mayor Gary Jones is angry that an atheist is complaining about his questionable choice to place “In God We Trust” stickers on all city police cars. After local citizen and atheist Ron Battista wrote Mayor Jones a note reminding the mayor about the problematic nature of placing the religious stickers on patrol cars things took a decidedly uncivil term, and Mayor Jones eventually threatened his constituent with arrest if he did not stop complaining.
First, Battista wrote an email to Jones discussing his concerns with the new “In God We Trust” stickers:
I know you won’t change your mind, but you should know that the proposed police car stickers that proclaim “In God We Trust” is troubling to those of us who do not believe in the Christian “God”, be they practitioners of different faith or practitioners of none. You should choose to be inclusive as a public servant. But you think your faith is more important than your civic duty, it seems.
Do we have a Christian police force? Did you ask them when you decided to festoon their cars with religious slogans?
I know stunts like this play well politically in places like Columbia County but you should probably pay more attention to the overloaded infrastructure that can’t handle all of the commercial and residential expansion in Grovetown rather than push people’s buttons on matters of church and state.
As I said, I might as well talk to a wall from the impression I get of you but I thought I’d try anyway.
Mayor Jones replied:
In God we trust does not imply any particular God. This statement is broad. Congratulations you are the first to speak negatively about the stickers.
After more back and forth the mayor grew angry, and seems to threaten Battista with violence, at one point declaring:
Come to a meeting and say that personally coward…
Are you threatening me? I’ll be sure to forward that to the media.
An angry Mayor Jones followed up by eventually threatening Battista with arrest:
Do not email me again or I will seek a warrant for your arrest.
Battista may not have been polite in his discussion with Mayor Jones, but nothing he said merits a threat to be placed under arrest. After all, complaining to an elected official about poor public policy is not a crime, but a right every citizen enjoys regardless of religious beliefs, or lack thereof.
By issuing such a threat, Mayor Jones is not only revealing his thin skin, but also abusing his power as a public official.
Bottom line: Mayor Jones is trying to silence an atheist complaining about problematic public policy by threatening that atheist with arrest.