Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you visit the Facebook page of the Haven Police Department in Kansas, which oversees a rural town just outside of Wichita, you might wonder if it was being run by a government agency or a local church. That’s because it posts things like this, promoting Christianity in overt ways:

Another post quotes Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

On top of all that, Police Chief Stephen Schaffer stuck “In God We Trust” decals on the department’s vehicles a few months ago:

The message is clear: If you’re a non-Christian in this community, they don’t care about you.

But last week, all of that changed.

It didn’t take a lawsuit or even the threat of a lawsuit. All it took was a city council member willing to challenge the unlawful promotion of religion.

According to the minutes from the May 2 meeting (video is not available), council member Sandra Williams “voiced concerns” about what Schaffer was doing, telling her colleagues it was not the “forum to be talking about God.”

After a “brief exchange” between the two, Schaffer asked if the city council wanted him to stop promoting Christianity through the department. Mayor Adam Wright said “Yes,” and the voting members of the council unanimously agreed. (Wright later told a local newspaper that “We had a concern from a citizen about it that was brought to the attention of a council member.”)

But that was that. Schaffer said he would remove the religious posts and get rid of the decals before the council’s next meeting on May 16. Even when he had the chance to speak his mind on a local news outlet, Schaffer just seemed resigned to the outcome, saying, “I was a little defensive, but in the end, we’re going to do whatever the council tells us to do… It’s not an issue for me.”

That’s the right response. A police department shouldn’t be a canvas for Christian nationalists to promote their personal beliefs. So undoing the mistakes they’ve made is the least they could do, even if Schaffer doesn’t seem to understand why any of it might be a problem.

Even though that should be the end of the story, though, there’s already some second-guessing from the mayor himself:

“There should have been probably a little more discussion. I know our legal department is looking into, you know, is it an option? Can we have it? Can we not have it?,” Wright said.

He said personally, he disagrees with the council’s action to remove the decals.

Whenever we are in emergency, we rely on [police], so they have to put their trust in something else besides human aspects,” Wright said.

That makes no sense at all. When people are in an emergency, they call the cops… therefore, the cops need to advertise Christianity? Good luck parsing that one. I’ll save him time with the legal question, though: While they can probably (unfortunately) get away with the “In God We Trust” decals, the explicit promotion of Christianity on their social media crosses every line that currently exists.

More importantly, though, even if they could get away with everything, what’s the purpose? To make sure non-Christians in the community feel unwelcome, unwanted, and unprotected? Why is that the message the mayor and the police chief want to send? It shouldn’t matter that Christianity is almost certainly the dominant religion in their community. It’s not the job of the government to do the work of local pastors.

For now, anyway, they’ve made the right move. Let’s hope they don’t try to reverse course.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.