The people have spoken. What’s more, they have been heard.
After voting to strip “In God We Trust” decals off the city’s police cars, the Haven, Kansas city council voted Monday to put them back on. The U-turn followed a huge public outcry against the council’s May 2 move, including a packed council meeting Monday night where the council reversed itself by a 3-2 vote.
“I hope that the council and the mayor see that they’ve done something unilaterally that … didn’t go over well with the citizens they represent,” Haven resident Mary Andresen told Wichita television station KWCH.
After the council voted unanimously to strip the decals off police cars, angry residents of Haven and nearby towns quickly rushed to put similar decals on their own, while giving the mayor and council a piece of their mind. Mayor Adam Wright said he received more than 100 emails on the issue, all but two of them in support of the decals.
Opponents of the council’s May 2 decision noted that “In God We Trust” has been the national motto since 1956. It was placed on U.S. currency the following year.
The police chief had allowed the decals several months earlier, after an officer requested permission for it. Council members said they worried about issues of separation of church and state, but the city attorney said the decals weren’t illegal.
They turned out to be pretty essential in the public’s view, though, after initially going on the vehicles.
“A lot of the community members that we ran into have put decals on their own cars that say ‘In God We Trust’,” Laura Francis, chair of Kansas’ 1st Congressional District Republican Party, told The Heartlander before the council’s change of direction Monday.
Francis just happened to be speaking at the Reno County GOP meeting in the Haven area after the May 2 vote, and rallied the troops against the council’s May 2 decision.
“They’ve told us that they’re fighting to have [the slogan] back,” she said. “They were vocal in our meeting about making sure that our national motto does not get removed from the public square in Haven.”
Still, Francis cautioned Republican faithful not to let the issue die, saying the council’s May 2 vote was a sign that conservatives need to be more politically active and vigilant – particularly as elections near.
Indeed, even the three Haven council members who voted to return “In God We Trust” to police vehicles weren’t enthusiastic about doing so.
“The three council members who decided the decals could remain on Haven Police Department cars said by allowing this, they must allow similar speech from other religions, or lack thereof on police vehicles,” KWCH reported. “One council member said if something is added that the public doesn’t like or agree with, he doesn’t want to hear complaints.”
“Voters need to be much more involved in who they elect for their city council boards,” Francis told The Heartlander. “We are grateful the Haven City Council reversed its vote to reinstate our National Motto back on patrol vehicles. However, it is disappointing to learn that there were two council members who voted against, and others who voted hesitantly to have ‘In God We Trust’ restored.
“This city council does not reflect the values that their community members hold, and I’m afraid they will continue to be a problem until they are replaced. I would urge the citizens of Haven to begin working on recruiting good Christian candidates to run for this office at the next election cycle.”