You knew it was too good to last.
Two weeks ago, in Haven, Kansas, the city council asked the local police department to remove the “In God We Trust” decals from vehicles and to stop using their official Facebook page to promote Christianity. Council member Sandra Williams raising concerns about it, correctly noting that those were not the “forum to be talking about God.”
To his credit, Police Chief Stephen Schaffer said he would do whatever the council wanted him to do, even if he didn’t agree with it.
The second-guessing about that move, however, started quickly. Mayor Adam Wright later said “There should have been probably a little more discussion,” before bizarrely claiming cops needed to look to a higher power.
That’s why more eyes than usual were on tonight’s meeting.
Would the city council cave to the inevitable pressure from Christian zealots who think their religion’s stamp deserves to be anywhere and everywhere they want it?
According to Grant DeMars of local news channel KWCH, the meeting was packed and some attendees were hoping council members would resign. (Even though those members did absolutely nothing wrong.)
By the end of the night, DeMars reported, the city council caved under pressure.
They voted 3-2 to allow the “In God We Trust” decals back on the vehicles. The vote occurred after several public comments from supporters of the Christian nationalist agenda. Mayor Wright said he received hundreds of emails in support of the decals, and that the few who opposed them weren’t from the city.
But church/state separation shouldn’t be subject to popular vote. Just because a Christian majority wants to impose its faith on the public doesn’t mean elected officials need to go along with it. This isn’t about “patriotism” or whatever excuse the God people claim it is; it’s about pushing the Christian brand of God on every non-Christian in the city.
Those non-Christians have been sent a very clear message that they are not safe or welcome in this community because the police department is beholden to one religion and one religion only.
There is a silver lining, though.
DeMars noted that the three “yes” votes were “hesitant.” The council members who flipped did so only after everyone agreed that “similar speech from any other religion (or lack thereof) can also be added to police vehicles.”
You know what that means: There will now be a race between American Atheists and The Satanic Temple to see who can be the first to supply the city of Haven with enough decals highlighting their non-theistic beliefs. I’ve contacted both groups to see what their plans are and will update this post if/when I hear back.
***Update***: The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson Lucien Greaves tells me they will have designs “ready by tomorrow.”
***Update 2***: Americans Atheists plans to send the city “E Pluribus Unum” stickers. President Nick Fish told me: “Certainly a phrase that speaks to how our nation—and our community—is stronger when we stand together would be more welcome than a divisive, exclusionary slogan that alienates almost a third of Americans.”