Atheists Threaten to Sue Over TN Police Patch that Says ‘Religion’ on it

Officials in Lenoir City, Tennessee, are pushing back against an atheist group’s demands that a police uniform patch that includes the word “religion” on it be immediately changed. Rather than bowing to the demands of the atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Mayor Tony Aikens told a large crowd at a city council meeting on Monday evening that the city will continue displaying the patch.

The patch currently reads: “Lenoir City Police Department.” There is a triangle in its center with the words, “Industry, Religion, Education” placed around it.

In a back-and-forth spoken through letter form, the FFRF, based in Madison, Wisconsin, has staked the claim that the patch violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution — an argument the organization frequently uses to drive home its extreme separatist views. Already, the FFRF has threatened to sue over the continued display.

“There are 500,000 people in Tennessee who don’t believe in any organized religion, they don’t adhere to any organized religion and this alienates them,” claims Andrew Seidel, a FFRF Constitutional Consultant. “I mean you have a police department who’s charged with enforcing the laws, violating it.”

In a response that was unanimously approved by the city council, City Attorney James Scott said that the city was not engaged in discriminatory behavior, nor was it endorsing a specific faith.

“It doesn’t endorse [religion], that patch does not endorse,” Aikens has echoed.

Here’s a screen shot of the letter that Lenoir City attorneys sent to the FFRF:

“Our city, our county does not discriminate against folks and we believe the police have a right to wear the patch,” added Lenoir City resident Ron Jordan.

Based on past rhetoric and legal battles, it’s likely that the FFRF will have a response.