The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia removed decals with a Bible verse from their patrol cars this week following complaints that they were unconstitutional.
“A Bible verse … is a sectarian and exclusively religious statement,” said Sam Grover, staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Under the Establishment Clause, the sheriff’s office, as a government entity, must remain neutral. It cannot promote one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.”
The decals, which say, “Blessed are the peacemakers… Matthew 5:9,” were donated to the department in March but came off this week. The department received permission to keep them on through the remainder of National Police Week, but Sheriff Hank Partin decided to remove them immediately.
“Our intent was, and still is, to honor our fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement,” Partin said in a written statement.
“We want to focus on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities,” he continued. “The last thing that I want is for this to become a distraction to the men and women who serve their communities selflessly every day.”
Attention was called to the decals after the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union dubbed them as a breach of separation of church and state.
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