Virginia Sheriff Instructed to Remove ‘Peacemaker’ Bible Decals From Patrol Vehicles

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. — A sheriff in Virginia has been instructed to remove decals bearing the words of Christ from patrol cars in the midst of an inquiry and complaints from two church-state separation groups.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office had been gifted with the decals in March, which quote from Matthew 5:9, which reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) soon complained about the stickers, claiming that they violated the separation of Church and State.

“A Bible verse … is a sectarian and exclusively religious statement,” FFRF attorney Sam Grover told reporters. “Under the Establishment Clause, the sheriff’s office, as a government entity, must remain neutral. It cannot promote one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.”

“It’s a biblical phrase … it’s directly on a sheriff’s vehicle,” ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Leslie Mehta also remarked. “So someone being stopped by a sheriff’s deputy may feel one way or the other, that you’re on my side because I’m a Christian or you’re not on my side. Either way, that presents a problem under the First Amendment.”

After receiving an inquiry from the Roanoke Times, the Board of Supervisors looked into the issue and also consulted with County Attorney Marty McMahon. In deciding that the decals could pose a legal issue, they sent a request to Sheriff C.H. Partin to remove the Scripture from patrol cars.

“In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with the statement itself,” Supervisor Chris Tuck told conservative reporter Todd Starnes. “Any individual can put that on your car however they would like. However, based on our legal advice, when you put, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ and make the reference to Matthew 5:9, there are some serious concerns about the Establishment Clause and Separation of Church and State and the First Amendment.”

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Partin agreed to remove the decals, stating that he doesn’t want them to be a distraction.

“Our intent was, and still is, to honor our fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement,” he said in a statement. “We planned to leave the decals on our vehicles until the end of National Police Week.”

“After receiving inquiries and a request from our Board of Supervisors to remove the decals, I made the decision to immediately remove them,” Partin continued. “In the midst of National Police Week, we want to focus on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities. The last thing that I want is for this to become a distraction to the men and women who serve their communities selflessly every day.”

In the 1978 film “Sheffey,” based on the real-life story of 19th century circuit-riding preacher Robert Sheffey, the aged minister states, “[S]omeday, when the world tells us we can no longer have our religion—except where they say—and God is driven from our schools, and our government, and our homes, then God’s people can look back and know that our religion was not taken—-it was given up [and] handed over bit by bit, until there was nothing left.”

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  • bowie1

    I wonder what would have happened had the Matthew 5:9 part not been included.

    • Retired Medic

      I agree. Considering the anti-Christian rhetoric war that’s been dividing our “Land of Freedom”, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

    • MarkSebree

      The same thing, actually. Most of the people that work to keep Church and State separate as the US Constitution dictates are quite familiar with the Bible. The FFRF co-director Dan Baker is a former pastor.

  • Ambulance Chaser

    In the 1978 film “Sheffey,” based on the real-life story of 19th century circuit-riding preacher Robert Sheffey, the aged minister states, “[S]omeday, when the world tells us we can no longer have our religion—except where they say—and God is driven from our schools, and our government, and our homes, then God’s people can look back and know that our religion was not taken—-it was given up [and] handed over bit by bit, until there was nothing left.”

    No one is taking away your religion. The law on the Establishment Clause, as it stands now, simply states that governments cannot endorse or inhibit religion. That’s it.

    Sheriff Partin can go home and hang a giant banner that says “Blessed are the peacemakers” on his house if he so desires. He just can’t use government property to promote religion.

    • mikegillespie

      You’re a woman.

      • MarkSebree

        And what his gender does that have to do with anything? And what makes you think that he is a woman?

  • Colin Rafferty

    As Supervisor Chris Tuck said, “any individual can put that on your car however they would like.”

    Which is exactly correct. If the police want to put those stickers on their personal cars, that would be perfectly fine. But they don’t belong on the government vehicles, that are supposed to represent all the people, not just the majority religion.

  • Bacchus

    Wow, even when it doesn’t mention God or Jesus, they still whine.

    These must be some awfully miserable little creatures. You understand why atheists have high suicide rates, they are bored and unhappy.

    • joe3eagles

      It doesn’t have to “mention God or Jesus” to be seen as a blatant endorsement of one religion over another religion or non-religion. A bible passage is a bible passage is a bible passage. You are employing the standard strawman tactic used by theists who have no legitimate gripe against the atheist position.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      “Beware of jealousy, for it destroys your character just as fire destroys wood.” -Muhammad

      This quote doesn’t mention God or Jesus, but it certainly violates the Establishment Clause. Don’t you agree?

      • TheLastHonestLawyer

        4:135 O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or parents or kindred, whether a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both. So follow not passion lest ye lapse and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.

        I’d accept “4:136 Be ye staunch in justice” as acceptable for a cop car. What say all of you?

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    All Americans should love the Holy Scripture verses. What’s wrong with today’s Americans that any of them would hate what is so good? Police cars should have Christian decals. Both police and the people need those.

    • TheLastHonestLawyer

      No, they shouldn’t. This is settled law in the United States.

      Do you realize that almost a third of Americans, 100 million people, are not Christians? And we have the same rights as any other citizen. Oh, and the number of non-religious people, agnostics, atheists, and those who define themselves as “spiritual” but not affiliated with any faith, is rising.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Ya, the parasites. In every nation especially in the Christian USA. Mankind need the Judeo-Christian teachings for everyone to have the access to the truth, human rights, freedom, equality, and justice. Are you aware that you’d not be alive today if your tribal value was carried out accurately upon you? Freedom is exclusively of the Holy Bible.

        The West is choking its own neck and destroying its own children today by hating the Christianity, the only excellent thing they have and from which their every noble thing came from. Western secularism exists to systematically corrupt human beings into worthless playboys and prostitutes who are only good at showing skin. Work has its visible fruits, son. You need Christianity for salvation and also safety. Read Matthew chapters 5-7. John chapter 3.

        • TheLastHonestLawyer

          What on Earth are you talking about? “My tribal value”? Child, I was a warrior and lawyer, two things valued in Islamic culture. I am father, and soon to be a grandfather, meaning I am a valued elder.

          Again, your ignorance is staggering.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            I heard the Muslims execute the atheists for merely holding unbeliefs in God. Christians leave the atheists alone. Atheists kill the believers and the unborn children in the East, and they kill the unborn children and force Sodomy-belief upon everyone in the West. You know these fats if you are a learned man.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            You hear wrong. Extremists kill people for being the wrong faith. Saudi Arabia is run by extremists, and even they are more likely to sentence an apostate to flogging.

            Saudi Arabia is not the Muslim world.

            Atheists make up a tiny portion of the world. Are you saying we run things? Where’s my commission check?

            Madam, you and facts are divorced from each other. I’m going to be frank. You are, by far, one of the most bigoted, ignorant people I have ever encountered, and I used to defend illiterate methamphetamine addicts in court.

            You are imperious to facts. You have fetishistized Western Culture without understanding what it means. You know nothing about the Middle East, Islam, history, or anything about the United States.

            You are grossly rude and insulting to everyone.

            I am done with you. You are not worth the effort. I encourage other readers of this site to do the same, as Grace is not a good Christian. She’s barely a decent human being.

          • Cady555

            Well said.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You bullies. America’s police officers need Christianity for safety.

          • MarkSebree

            No, American police officers need training, compassion, and be willing to treat people fairly for safety. Police officers in other countries do not follow Christian beliefs, nor do all American police officers for that matter. And there are a number of countries where the police are far safer than they are in the USA. That means that Christianity is either not a factor in their safety, or it is a negative influence on their safety.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You are wrong. Non-Judeo-christian religions by the doctrines do not have the objective truth or the concept of human freedom to start with. There are a lot of atheists in the world. Secular nations don’t have commission checks because they’ve already fattened themselves by using the Chinese slaves.

            You must stop slandering people who disagree with you, although that’s also typical of Western atheists. You are the one who know nothing about human history, brainwashed by the godless Western liberals whom your own parents despised and wished that you wouldn’t be like.

            And you must stop bullying online, either. Under a fake name at that. Now everyone knows how cowardly the Western atheist men are. You are exactly another proof that atheism is evil. 2/3 of the world experienced it firsthand. Westerners are naive because they are always protected and spoiled by the gentle Christian churches.

    • Cady555

      Which verses should “we” all love?

      Psalm 137:9?
      Numbers 31?

      You are free to love your bible. I am free to ignore it.

      Neither one of us is free to plant statements promoting or discouraging creligion on government property.

      Freedom matters.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Those who ignore what the Holy Bible teaches are bad humans. America has no freedom apart from Christianity; that’s why Ex-christian West(America) forces people to endorse Sodomy everywhere. Stressing freedom alone brings tyranny by immorality. There should be freedom to reject West’s Sodomy. The Western whites are not joking because they are sacrificing their own children to uphold the Sodomy. Who imagined that Americans would apply the racial equality upon sexual depravity? Freedom’s nightmare brought by the Western Sodomites.

  • Paul Stogsdill

    I still want someone/anyone to show me where the separation of Church and State is at in the Constitution? a little hint: it ain’t in there but lots of people keep quoting this BS for their own benefit!!

    • Momma Beth


    • MarkSebree

      If you are looking for the words “Separation of Church and State”, you will not find them. Nor will you find “Freedom of religion” or other phrases common phrases associated with the Constitution. Yet those protections still exist in the US Constitution.

      The Separation of Church and State exists because of multiple parts and clauses of the US Constitution working together.

      Article VI, Paragraph 3:
      “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

      First Amendment, Establishment Clause:
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

      Congress (and the federal government) cannot make any laws favoring or discriminating against any religion.
      And before you jump on that phrase, continue reading to the end so that you do not make a fool of yourself.

      First Amendment, Free Exercise Clause:
      “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]”

      Congress cannot make any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Note the order of the clauses. The Establishment Clause comes first, and thus is considered to be the superior clause. That mean that when the two are in conflict, the Establishment Clause holds precedence. However, the Establishment Clause ONLY applies to government employees, and then when they can be viewed as representing the government. When they are “off the clock” and “out of uniform”, government employees can practice what ever beliefs that they like.

      First Amendment, Free Speech Clause:
      “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”

      This is included because it protects the right to preach in public for unpopular denominations and religion, as well as criticize religions that you do not agree with.

      First Amendment, Freedom of the Press Clause:
      “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … of the press”

      Same as the Free Speech Clause, but in written word this time.

      First Amendment, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Clause
      “Congress shall make no law … abridging the … right of the people peaceably to assemble”

      The government cannot prevent people from meeting peacefully, which includes religious meetings.

      First Amendment, Right to Petition the Government
      “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

      If you see the government favoring or discriminating against a religion, particularly yours, you have the right to request that the government fix the problem. This includes the right to file suit against the government for their actions and inaction.

      Amendment 14, Section 1, Equal Rights and Equal Protection Clauses:
      “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

      This section is important, yet it is one that many people forget about. Perhaps purposefully. This section extends the Constitutional protections of the US Constitution and any guaranteed by the federal government to all levels of government, including state, city, county, township, and public school board. This means that NO level of government can show favoritism or discrimination against any religion, including having no religion at all.

      The 14th Amendment is the one that I wanted your to see, since it is the one that results in the application of Constitutional protections at the local level. Whether you made any statements that ignored what I posted, and thus made a fool of yourself, is entirely up to you.

  • monongahela

    There is no such thing as a separation between church and state, yet lawyers and the media push this lie down our scared little politicians that are to dumb to understand there is no separation

    • Guzzman

      You wrote, “There is no such thing as a separation between church and state.” No one ever claimed “separation between church and state” is literally stated in the Constitution. That phrase is President Jefferson’s insightful metaphor describing the religious clauses of the First Amendment. Jefferson said that those clauses acting together have the effect of “building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

      In Reynolds v. United States (1879) the Supreme Court held that Jefferson’s writings concerning a wall of separation between church and state “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment.”

      James Madison, long-honored as Father of the Constitution, has numerous quotes describing the constitutional separation of religion from government: “The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased BY THE TOTAL SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH FROM THE STATE” (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).

      You are contradicted by the Constitution, the founding fathers, the courts, and history itself.

      • monongahela

        No you believe the lie because if our founders wanted separation between church and state we would not IN GOD WE TRUST on our money, Moses our the entrance to our capital building and all the statues and all those religious sayings around Washington DC would not be there. If you would study our history you would find pastors and ministers pushing for the Revolution and why does congress start its sessions with a pray?

        • Guzzman

          Jefferson and Madison did in fact interpret the religious clauses of the First Amendment to call for a separation between religion and government. I provided direct quotes from both saying just that. As an added bonus, I provided a Supreme Court decision from 1879 saying that Jefferson’s interpretation that the religious clauses create a “wall of separation between church and state” was an authoritative declaration.

          On the issue of “In God We Trust”, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were tasked with designing the Great Seal of the United States, which they did – and it carried the phrase “E Pluribus Unum.” Congress officially adopted the Great Seal with its motto of “E Pluribus Unum” in 1782.

          In fact, “E Pluribus Unum” was considered the motto of the United States for nearly two hundred years, until it was infused with a divisive religious message and changed to “In God We Trust” in 1956. The founders preferred a secular motto to go with their secular Constitution.

          You also referred to the relief marble portrait of Moses in the House Chamber of the Capitol. This portrait was one of 23 marble portraits installed when the House Chamber was remodeled in 1950. The marble reliefs include those of Roman and Byzantine emperors, and a Muslim sultan, Suleiman. Suleiman played a role in reforming Sharia law.

          As for Congressional chaplains, Madison was adamantly opposed to them and said they were a “palpable violation” of the Constitution (I can provide the full quote if you like). The Constitution gave the House authority to appoint its own officers, so politicians of the day decided to grandfather them in from the Continental Congress.

          So most of your examples occurred well after the floundering of our nation –
          some within my lifetime. The fact is, the founders had every intention of separating religion and government in the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution founded our country and makes no mention of any god, Jesus, Christianity, or any religious belief for that matter. The only use of the term “religion” was to prevent government from promoting, endorsing, or otherwise establishing religion (First Amendment) or using religion as a qualification for public office (Article VI).

          • monongahela

            They were just 2 of our founders and if they felt that strong about it why did they allow church service in the capital building? Our founders knew that without a higher power there would be no America. Our founders did not want one religion to be over other religions and they have always started with a pray to get congress going, Tommy Jefferson even read the quran out of curiosity, Tommy is the one who sent our Marines to Tripoli to free our people from the islamic pirates. You do know islam declared war on America right after we became a nation.

          • Guzzman

            Yes, for a time there were church services and many other social activities (e.g., card playing, gambling, concerts) held in the newly constructed House chamber of the Capitol. This was a unique circumstance in our nation’s history when the Federal government relocated to an undeveloped tract of land with very little infrastructure. Naturally, unusual arrangements were struck to accommodate the social and religious needs of all of those displaced individuals. One church group was using an abandoned tobacco barn to hold services, that’s how dire the situation was.

            So yes, an otherwise empty House chamber was used for various functions on Sundays hundreds of years ago, and Jefferson did attend some of these functions as a PRIVATE citizen. A private action (even of a government official) is in no way an “official” act supported or endorsed by government. Furthermore, it has no bearing whatsoever on the constitutional principle of separating religion and government. The doors of the unoccupied House chamber were opened for worship and other social functions simply because there were no other buildings available at the time in the fledgling District of Columbia. The accommodation was eventually discontinued as new construction was completed by private religious organizations and businesses.

            And funny you should mention Tripoli. The Treaty of Tripoli was negotiated under President Washington, unanimously ratified by the Senate and signed into law by President John Adams in 1797. The wording that the United States was “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” merely reinforced what the U.S. Constitution had established a few years earlier – a secular basis for our government.

          • monongahela

            Please don`t think I am dumb and going to buy your reason why they used the capital building for church service. I was born in Lancaster Co, Pa. That is in the heart of the Amish, Mennonite, Quakers country and those people always had a descent place to go worship, I even had a relative at Valley Forge under General Washington

          • Guzzman

            As I stated, and you did not refute, the District of Columbia was a sparsely populated, undeveloped tract of land that was purchased by the Federal Government so that it could construct buildings to house all three branches of government circa 1790. The obvious reason church services were held in unoccupied government buildings was that the newly built capital did not yet have churches, or any other buildings, that could accommodate them. Even a decade later in 1803, U.S. Senator John Quincy Adams famously complained: “There is no church of any denomination in this city.”

            This unique circumstance has no bearing whatsoever on the constitutional separation of religion and government. Indeed, as churches and other accommodations were completed, this practice was discontinued.

          • monongahela

            First the land for Washington DC and the town were donated to the government so no one State could control the city. Churches were always one of the first buildings built in a colony so your answers don`t hold water and there were some very out spoken pastor`s and minister`s that fueled the Revolution. George Washington loved that land around the Potomac and at that time no place was over populated

          • Guzzman

            The tract of land was chosen specifically because it was undeveloped and largely unpopulated. That is historical fact that you cannot dispute. Why would the Federal government buy a tract of land to build huge office buildings if there were people and other buildings already there. They would have to evict the current inhabitants and tear down any existing structures that were already in place. Many diaries of the time recorded about the fact that government employees living in DC were socially isolated. As late as 1803, Senator John Quincy Adams famously complained: “There is no church of any denomination in this city.” Whereare your facts to dispute the historical record?

  • Robert

    the be atitudes show our sins it’s law not gospel.. the divorce rate is just one area that shows police officers there not the peace makers they think they are.
    Bible quote “The law came through Moses Grace and Truth came to us in Jesus Christ.