Childress, Texas Police Chief Adrian Garcia has put himself squarely in the cross hairs of an atheist group after he defiantly snubbed a demand to remove “In God We Trust” from the department’s vehicles.
Garcia says he received a threatening letter from Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation demanding he remove “In God We Trust” from the patrol units.
“After carefully reading your letter I must deny your request in the removal of our Nations motto from our patrol units, and ask that you and the Freedom From Religion Foundation go fly a kite,” Garcia responded, KCDB reports.
The police chief ordered the decals after several attacks on police across the country this summer.
“I think with all the assaults happening on officers across the country and the two that happened in the past few days in Harris County and Abilene, it’s time we get back to where we once were,” Garcia told the Red River Sun earlier this month, according to the Amarillo Globe-News. “This is our nation’s motto … it’s even on our currency. It’s nothing new.”
That decision was announced on Facebook, as well, and generated a lot of buzz in the community.
“The people that were negative, I’ve never even heard of them,” says Ginger Wilson, editor at the Red River Sun. “We live in the Bible Belt. I think that we have a very strong Christian community, and I don’t personally foresee anyone in our community reacting in a negative fashion.”
“We haven’t sent an official letter of complaint yet, but that is on our docket and we are planning to send something,” Rebecca Markert, senior staff attorney for the atheist group, said at the time. “It is definitely showing a government endorsement of religion over non-religion, which is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
The group did send the letter and received the chief’s not-so-subtle letter in response.