Tennessee sheriff rejects atheists' request to remove 'In God We Trust' decals from cars

Two police officers from the Stone County Sheriff's Office in Missouri pose by their patrol vehicle bearing the ‘In God We Trust" decal.(Facebook/Stone County Sheriff's Office)

A Tennessee sheriff has rejected a request from an atheist organisation for him to remove "In God We Trust" decals from patrol cars.

Henderson County Sheriff Brian Duke curtly replied "No" to the written demand made by the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for the removal of the decals.

"The US Supreme Court says it's perfectly legal," Duke told WBBJ station about the decal which he put on 20 patrol cars. "There's so many religions that acknowledge the existence of a God."

Resident Timothy Lynn Gordon said, "A lot of people are going to be against it and a lot of people are going to be for it."

The FFRF has sent dozens of letters to sheriffs around the US that have placed stickers on patrol cars. These include sheriffs in Iowa, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas.

The Missouri Sheriff's Association has voted to put "In God We Trust" stickers on patrol vehicles.

In response, the FFRF said it has offered to send the association "In Reason We Trust" stickers to be put alongside the "In God We Trust" stickers.

"Statements about a god have no place on government-owned property," said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, arguing that putting the "In God We Trust" stickers on patrol cars "unequivocally signals bias against non-believers."

In a letter to association president Rodney Herring, Gaylor said, "It is inappropriate for Missouri sheriffs to display 'In God We Trust' on government property. Public officials should not use their government position and government property to promote religious views."

But Herring said, "In the times we're in right now and how law enforcement is viewed negatively, we are looking for something positive."

Herring said the putting of the sticker is up to the decision of each department.

"In some areas, it's going to be well received, and in some areas, it won't," he told the Missouri Times. "In rural areas people are more religious, and in urban places, there's not a huge religious following in those areas... It is my opinion that there will probably be some opponents to make a proverbial mountain out of a molehill."