TEGA CAY, S.C. — A city in South Carolina has removed a monument that featured a prayer for police officers after local residents complained, citing the “separation of Church and State,” and others were saddened that officials plastered over the word “Lord” so as to appease opponents.
“We have received many comments, both locally and nationally, in response to the monument at the Tega Cay Police Station. We attempted to find a compromise but failed as our community has further divided. In an attempt to find a resolution, we have upset parties on both sides of this issue and for that, we are truly sorry,” the City of Tega Cay said in a statement.
“At this time, we have removed the monument while we continue to seek a solution that expresses our unwavering support and gratitude to those who risk their lives every day for ours.”
According to reports, the Women’s Club of Tega Cay recently donated the 4-foot stone monument, which features “The Officer’s Prayer,” to the new city police station. The prayer is written on the back of the stone and is not visible from the street.
“Lord, I ask for courage to face and conquer my own fears, courage to take me where others will not go. I ask for the strength — strength of body to protect others, and strength of spirit to lead others,” the inscription reads. “I ask for dedication — dedication to do my job, to do it well [and] dedication to my community to keep it safe.”
“Give me, Lord, concern for those who trust me and compassion for those who need me,” it states. “And please, Lord, through it all, be at my side.”
However, not long after it was installed and a photo of the display was posted to Facebook, local residents began to complain about the monument’s religious nature, claiming that it violates the “separation of Church and State.”
“We started getting a lot of negative backlash, and they started reaching out to council members,” City Manager Charles Funderburk told local television station WSOC-TV. “It wasn’t just one person.”
After meeting with city council members and the city attorney, it was decided to plaster over the word “Lord” on the monument — which appears three times — in order to avoid a lawsuit.
“I think what we’ve done is a compromise,” Funderburk opined. “You’ve still got the message of the prayer on the back, [but] we’ve removed the religious reference …”
However, some local and state residents then objected to the decision to cover up references to the Lord, including U.S Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill.
“Our Creator gave us God-given rights, and last time I checked, it was ‘One nation under God.’ To have this scratched out is sad to say the least,” he said in a video posted to social media. “That’s why we’re fighting in Washington, D.C. to put God back in public buildings like this and put God back in our schools. This is sad, and it never should have happened.”
According to WSOC, the city also sought to remove the word “God” from a monument at the Tega Cay fire station following the controversy in order to similarly avoid issue.
“There’s just as many people that are upset now that [the police department monument has] been removed as there were when it was put there in the first place, so it’s kind of a lose-lose,” Funderburk advised.
As previously reported, while some state that God and government must remain separated, others note that the nation was founded by many who believed that America could not expect to be blessed if it failed to acknowledge and honor Almighty God.
On March 23, 1798 — less than 12 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution — John Adams, the second president of the United States, called for a day of national repentance, prayer and fasting.
“[T]he safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness cannot exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed,” he wrote.
James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, similarly called for a national day of prayer on July 9, 1812.
“I do therefore recommend the third Thursday in August next as a convenient day to be set apart for the devout purposes of rendering the Sovereign of the universe and the Benefactor of mankind the public homage due to His holy attributes; of acknowledging the transgressions which might justly provoke the manifestations of His divine displeasure; of seeking His merciful forgiveness and His assistance in the great duties of repentance…”