BLOGArresting Developments: Atheists Target Police Departments for Intimidation

By Alan Sears Posted on: | August 26, 2015

One of the saddest things about being an atheist is the hard fact that the God you oppose is, by definition, omnipresent … so you’re going to keep running into Him, wherever you look, wherever you go. That’s bound to put a crimp in any life dedicated to denial.

Which may be why a few atheists seem so bent on putting a crimp in the lives of people who believe – including your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members.

Take, for instance, the latest effort by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), to scrub all reference to divinity from the public square. The group has taken to sending letters to sheriff’s offices and police departments around the country, complaining about squad cars that display the official U.S. national motto, “In God We Trust.” Since squad cars are paid for and operated by government agencies, FFRF seems to consider those words evidence of a failure to separate church and state. At any rate, they want the “controversial” and “inappropriate” motto removed from all police vehicles.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have sent a letter of their own to the sheriff’s offices and police departments targeted by the FFRF complaints, explaining that, in fact, neither the national motto nor the inscription of said motto on public vehicles is a violation of the U.S. Constitution – however much atheists might wish it to be so.

“[D]ecisions from federal courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected claims that use of the national motto violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” the ADF letter explains, noting that, as a federal appeals court has ruled, “‘The motto symbolizes the historical role of religion in our society, formalizes our medium of exchange, fosters patriotism, and expresses confidence in the future. The motto’s primary effect is not to advance religion.’”

The letter continues: “Many of these same motives underlay the decision by your department and others across the country to display the national motto on vehicles: promoting patriotism; acknowledging the role of religion in our society; and acknowledging the longstanding historical practice of seeking divine protection for those in harm’s way.” 

“It’s shameful for groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation to target police departments and the men and women who honorably serve our citizens with these completely illegitimate demands,” says ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Americans should not be forced to abandon their heritage simply to appease the animosity of anti-religious groups toward anything that references God.”

Of course, the FFRF doesn’t limit its letter-writing campaigns to police officers. Earlier this year, they launched a full-court press against six public universities, telling them their basketball team chaplains are unconstitutional. ADF sent letters to the schools, clearing up that confusion, too.

“[T]he Establishment Clause ‘affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any,’” the ADF letters explained. “[P]ublic universities have great leeway in accommodating the religious needs of their students, and providing chaplains is one time-honored and constitutionally permissible method for doing so.

“No court has ever said that public universities may not utilize chaplains for their athletic teams,” the letters added. “In fact, many courts have upheld chaplaincy programs in other similar contexts: the military, prisons, police and fire departments, hospitals, airports, and the legislative branches of government.”

Earlier this month, FFRF issued a “report” that claims chaplains who volunteer their time to serve public university athletes  are violating legal standards by praying with students. ADF will once again respond to these baseless attacks.

And so it goes, week after week, year after year, as FFRF and other aggressive atheists groups call foul or put out their legal “APB”s on every group or organization that dares suggest God exists, and is important to some of their fellow Americans. For these without faith, it’s not enough to hold their own views … or even to contend for their beliefs in public debate. They are determined, somehow, to remove every trace of the faith of others.

It’s a cause doomed to failure. Jesus Himself said that if every follower of His were silenced, “the very rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40). Wonder if the FFRF would then file suit against the stones?

Please be in prayer for these who are working so diligently to curb the freedoms of their fellow Americans. And who, in their determination to avoid the truth, are missing out on so much of the joy of life themselves. As a wise man once said, the problem with being an atheist is that, when your heart overflows with thanksgiving … you have no One to be grateful to.

That profound gladness and realization is a privilege we as Christians could never deny anyone – not even those who oppose us.

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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