Recently, three California cities voted to add “In God We Trust” decals to their police vehicles.
As we’d expect, there was pushback – even though all three cities had overwhelming ‘yes’ votes.
But some Christians also disagreed with the decision. Here’s why:
“The God I believe in is much bigger than a bumper sticker.”
Those were the words of Andrae Gonzales, a Christian city council member in Bakersfield, CA who surprisingly voted against the decals.
And while some Christians opposed the new laws, most opposition came from where you’d expect – militant atheist political activists.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a long-time opponent of God in the public sphere, sent lawyers to the city council meeting in Bakersfield to oppose the vote.
Jordan Wells, a lawyer for the ACLU, said, “Unlike God, police officers are fallible. Their conduct should be scrutinized by the public, and when they overstep their authority, we must insist on accountability.”
And the fact is, these men are correct.
Humans are fallible and we should never hold men, or any man-made laws for that matter, to a standard that could be mistakenly considered equal to God’s authority.
Only God is Righteous. And only His laws alone are perfect.
But the purpose of these decals isn’t to claim that men are equal to God. In fact, two stated reasons for the decals are exactly aligned to Scriptural perspective.
For starters, Jacquie Sullivan, who also serves on the Bakersfield city council, runs a Christian nonprofit called In God We Trust America.
Sullivan (as we’d assume) was a heavy supporter of the decals, so much so, that her nonprofit offered to pay for the decals themselves.
“I love the motto. It’s meaningful. It’s powerful. Those words are intended to encourage.”
So, reason number one for this action – to give encouragement. As far away as our country has gone from God, there is a sense of safety that only God and prayer can give Americans. We see this when tragedy strikes. Suddenly, a much grander portion of the population has a daily prayer life.
And God does give us courage. Trusting in God is actually the only way to find true, sustaining courage. Sullivan was right about that.
And if these decals she supported do nothing more than remind bystanders of the true source of courage and hope — that alone is a great reason to have the decals.
A second reason was articulated by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a U.S. Representative who oversees the Bakersfield area: “Displaying ‘In God We Trust’ — the official motto of the United States — on Bakersfield Police Department cars is a testament to each officer’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and defending the City of Bakersfield and its residents.”
Perhaps this testament will also help police themselves to consider God, who they should view as the true authority as they serve in their position of earthly authority.
And of course, the best possible outcome would be that these decals, as simple as they are, cause people to search for God and better understand the truly remarkable principles our country was founded to uphold.
In any case, we can praise God for this success of Kingdom advancement. Even simply in the reality that in one more small way, God’s name is being used righteously instead of as blasphemy.
Seeing things like this reminds us that it is truly God who is in control and He can set up or tear down authorities as He sees fit, for His greater purpose (Romans 13).
Further, we should pray for the safety of the police force as they work in their respective California cities.
First, our prayer should be for wisdom as they travel, in decision making, and respond to circumstances.
But secondly, anyone who bears the name of God is immediately positioning themselves for human pushback. Pray for their safety and that those who are reviling against God do not add difficulty for the policemen now bearing His name.
And lastly, pray for the salvation of the police force. Let it be said of them that they personally trust in God alone… not just their police car.