Crosses on law enforcement vehicles

NOTE TO READERS: I know I have been presenting bare blog posts the last few months because of physical problems and depression over the national and international scenes. Well, I am back now — sort of — but in a different tenor.
     My repressed anger is beginning to force itself into expression. I am contemplating a fairly lengthy jeremiad about the world around me, but that will take a while to develop and compose.
     For the moment, I am involved in more immediate and very local issues. The other night I attended a city council meeting and, with the help of another local activist, convinced the council members that they should be more concerned about the needs and convenience of the citizenry. It was over a fairly small issue — the scheduling of council meetings — that likely would not interest global readers.
     This morning, however, our two local papers published a letter-to-the-editor I had written protesting the pasting of religious decals on the rear windows of county sheriff department vehicles. That letter, I figured, should be of interest to citizens all over my homeland, maybe even the world. And that is the reason I am publishing it here today. I have expanded it slightly.
     I hope you find it interesting, even provocative.
—BL 

     * * * * * *

I hear the Brewster County Sheriff’s office has received more than 1,000 comments on their web page applauding the sticking of religious-oriented decals on their vehicles, and only a few condemning the practice.

Many people in Brewster County, being Christians of one sort or another, are undoubtedly in favor of that advertising. Others, not wishing to alienate themselves from their fellow citizens, probably will shy away from criticizing it. Our natural inclination is to say only positive things, not negative ones. Many others, not being Christians or not even being religious, will probably shrug their shoulders, thinking, “What’s the use of quarreling over such a petty matter? Let the idiots run with it. We’ve got more important issues to tackle.”

Well, I think the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the favoring of any religion, is very important. I will be as fervid in my defense of the 1st Amendment as the NRA gun-runners are absolute in their espousal of the 2nd Amendment.

The vehicles driven by our state, county and city law enforcement agencies are purchased with money coming from taxes paid by ALL the citizens of those jurisdictions. And not all the citizens are Christians; many are not even religious.

What is the message intended by the decals with their white over tan crosses and thin blue lines intersecting the horizontal bars? Are we to interpret them to mean that if you are a Christian you will be treated preferentially by the officer driving that patrol car? When he or she pulls you over for driving too fast or recklessly and you inform him/her that you are a Christian, will he/she give you a warning ticket and wish you a merry Christmas?

I am not so rigid in my insistence on the separation of church and state that I find “Merry Christmas” greetings repugnant; the political correctness notion has its own extreme. Nor do I see anything wrong with Sunday school classes holding Easter sunrise services at public parks where beautiful natural settings are most available, for those services last only a couple of hours and then the folks will depart. Such gatherings are private and relatively isolated and presumably no proselytizing will go on there.

But setting up crèches on courthouse lawns or hanging a bunch of paintings of angels in the county clerk’s office (as they do in Ward County) is promoting a particular religion. And a few decades ago, the Monahans, Texas, school board granted the First Baptist Church there permission to use the school district’s multi-purpose building for a revival. Those practices are repugnant and can even be viewed as bullying.

Finis

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lohr McKinstry on January 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I agree with you, Bob. Speaking of stickers that give people a break when stopped for speeding, etc., did you know some police departments issue decals with their department’s name to family, friends and public officials, that when affixed to a side or rear window tell police not to stop or ticket that driver. Look for those to see who has a special privilege. They are not just stickers of support.

  2. Thanks much, Lohr! You certainly added a valuable bit of info to my blog post. I was not aware of the stickers you mention.

  3. Posted by Jack McNamara on January 8, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Bob-

    And a good,tight little column putting you in the honorable and educated elite of Alpine. You can make your beer money on that just contesting the blarney the pols will be blabbing.

    Well done all around.
    Thanks,
    Jack

  4. Thanks for the compliment, Jack! I always have room in my tummy for more of those.

  5. Posted by Mike Craig on January 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Bob, I hope you remember me. I am Mike Craig, Ken Word’s friend. I really feel that crosses are okay on squad cars but if you don’t ; i am all for you because i see both sides of the argument. I am a christian but with so many fakes on T.V. asking for the $1,000 seed maybe it should fall on your side of the court. Do you remember Lisa Johnson who use to come in The Quiet Man. I would appreciate any input. I really like your writing style because it reflects people who get down in their “guts” and out of the tape recording going on in their heads to be accepted at any cost-thanks! Mike

  6. Mike —
    Like many other people, you have misread my statement. Visit this site with more than one essay for a fuller view of my stance (you have to scroll down to view them all).
    I am NOT anti-Christian; and, certainly, the Christian denominations need to clean up their dogmas and their organizations, like the Pope is trying to do, if they don’t want to decay and collapse.
    I am a spiritual person, not a religious person. I believe that Jesus was right when he advised his followers to pray in their closets, not on the street corners.
    Many Americans have a concrete notion in their heads that this is a “Christian country” and that people of other faiths should have no part in it. In effect, they want to institute a theocracy.
    Those decals on the police cars are symbolic of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. That image is NOT a non-specific or generic emblem representing an across-the-board deity; it is specific to the Christian religion.
    Even if I were still attending the United Methodist Church, as I did for many years, I would steadfastly maintain my adherence to the principle of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. No religion has any business crossing the threshold of the courthouse or the city hall chamber and especially not of the police station; no, not any more than a police squad has any business crossing the threshold of a church (unless there are militants or hostage-takers inside).
    It is a First Amendment issue.
    Bob

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