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BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – A year after he was sued for using his office to promote Christianity, Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson says he’s putting “In God We Trust” decals on county sheriff’s office vehicles.

On Thursday, Watson unveiled a set of new Dodge Charger patrol cars adorned with trunk decals bearing the nation’s 60-year-old motto. The motto has been used regularly since the Civil War, and Congress made it official in 1956. It has appeared on American paper currency since 1957, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“These four words are not just patriotic, but simply, part of this country’s heritage,” Watson said in a news conference at his office, standing with a handful of private donors who funded the decal initiative. “For the past several months, I’ve been considering adding ‘In God We Trust’ to our agency’s fleet vehicles, and I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from the community when discussing this idea at various civic organization meetings.”

Since he became sheriff in 2014, he has introduced elements of the country’s symbolism within the office, including the use of the American flag on the officers’ shoulder patches, Watson said.

Of the six donors present, five represented local churches.

“In the times that we have, it’s important that we stand up for our beliefs,” Alecia Kramer, minister of Church of God Jerusalem Acres, said after the conference. “We get so much negativity that we need to also give some positive out there, especially in the news media. This is something that’s positive and we need to — as leaders, especially as Christian leaders — stand together and be unified.”

Pastor David Kramer, her husband, said their congregation also was behind the decal message.

*Photo from Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, TN Sheriff Eric Watson Facebook

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  • Chris Clayton

    Given that it took almost 200 years to become our motto, it is hardly part of our heritage. Instead, the stickers are a clear attack on the 25% of Americans who no longer consider themselves to be a part of any organized religion. Why not a sticker that says “To Protect and Serve”, which should be the role of the police.