HARPER, Kan. — A police department in Kansas recently removed a Scriptural decal from a patrol vehicle after receiving a complaint from a professing atheist group.
The Harper Police Department had placed a decal on one its vehicles that simply read “Romans 13:4.” The verse, which speaks to the role of government as ordained by God, reads, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
But the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which was contacted by a local citizen—whose name was left anonymous—took issue with the stickers, asserting that they were a violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. The Clause reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
FFRF sent a letter to Chief Doug Murphy to urge him to remove the Bible decals.
“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for a government entity to display such a decal on its property because it displays a preference by the HPD—and by extension, the City of Harper—for religion over non-religion and Christianity over all minority faiths,” the correspondence read.
The organization also took issue with the selection of Scripture.
“The choice of verse is particularly disturbing,” it stated. “Romans 13 begins by claiming, ‘there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.’ This idea directly conflicts with the Constitution’s source of power: ‘We the people.'”
“There is also something perverse about referring to ‘revengers,’ ‘bearing swords’ and ‘executing wrath’ when your true job is to protect and serve,’ the letter continued. “It is not for the HPD to mete out biblical punishments or divine wrath.”
Following the issuance of the complaint, Harper Mayor Scott Blubaugh told local television station KSNW that he contacted the city attorney and asked him to determine whether the decal will need to be removed.
But some area residents didn’t find the matter to be a big deal.
“He has a right to have it there if he wants to,” Margaret Carrington told the outlet. “If he had another kind of sticker, would that make a difference?”
On Tuesday, Chief Murphy replied to FFRF to advise that the decal had been removed.
“The Harper Police Department has removed the decal ‘Romans 13:4’ from the city-owned vehicle it was on,” he simply wrote in his one sentence response.
Noah Webster, known as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” once said, “No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people. All the miseries an evils which men suffer from—vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war—proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”