A Florida sheriff has a defiant message for atheist activists who are demanding that he remove “In God We Trust” bumper stickers from official police patrol vehicles: “Get a judge’s order or a new sheriff.”
That bold response came from Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson after the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group, sent the county a letter last month demanding that the bumper stickers be taken off.
“If the Freedom From Religion Foundation wishes us to take them off our vehicles I suggest that they get a judge’s order or a new sheriff,” Adkinson wrote in an August 5 response letter to the atheist group. “I see absolutely no conflict in this matter.”
And he wasn’t done there, proceeding to give atheist activists a short history lesson of sorts.
“You are obviously unaware that ‘In God We Trust’ is the state motto of the state of Florida, and has been since 1886,” he wrote. “Additionally it is the motto of the United States.”
Adkinson closed the letter by claiming that he will not “compromise on the issue” and that “the disdain of a small minority should never, absent legitimate grievance, take precedence over the majority.”
Walton County Sheriff’s Office public affairs director Corey Dobridnia told TheBlaze on Wednesday that the sheriff has no plans of backing down from his letter and that the county has not yet heard back from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“It’s not [an issue] that he’s not going to change his position on,” she said, noting that the sheriffs office has received additional “In God We Trust” stickers that were donated by a local printing company called SRB Screen Printing.
Dobridnia said that these decals will be distributed “to the deputies, to their families and to anyone who wants to pick them up.”
So far, she said that staff members in the office have fully supported Adkinson’s position on the matter and that no one has complained over the presence of the stickers on patrol cars.
“I haven’t been made aware of a single citizen, or agency or organization that has sued us over that,” she said. “And if they were to, the sheriff made it very clear that he’s not taking them off of cars unless the people elect a new sheriff or a judge orders them to take them off.”
Read Adkinson’s letter to the Freedom From Religion Foundation in its entirety below:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation — which has sent letters to police departments and sheriffs officers across the country protesting the presence of “In God We Trust” stickers on patrol cars — has not yet responded to Adkinson’s letter, with Dan Barker, co-president of the atheist group, telling TheBlaze on Wednesday that he’s not sure what will happen next.
“We can’t predict what we’ll do next,” he said. “Even if we wanted to sue we have to have a plaintiff there who’s willing to sign on.”
But he added, “We would love to sue over a case like this.”
Barker did reveal that there is an unnamed atheist police officer in an undisclosed location who reached out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation to express his discontent over the fact that he is driving an official vehicle that has an “In God We Trust” bumper sticker.
If he would be willing to come forward and be a plaintiff, then we would go to court and sue,” he said.
So far, challenges to “In God We Trust” on currency have been unsuccessful, but Barker believes that the police patrol car issue could reignite the debate and give atheists another chance to question the legitimacy and constitutionality of including the line on public property.
(H/T: Northwest Florida Daily News)
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