DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - The Diboll Police patches that featured a bible verse reference will not be going on their uniforms.
In a phone call Monday morning, Diboll City Attorney Jimmy Cassels confirmed that the patches did not follow the Supreme Court's opinion on the matter of separation between Church and State.
On April 12, Cassels received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The letter stated several Texas residents had filed complaints with the organization about the patches. The simple patch has a reference to Matthew 5:9 which reads, "blesses are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
"Anytime the government endorses any religion over an other, it should bother everyone," Freedom From Religion Staff Attorney Sam Grover said. "Adding a bible quotation to its patches sends a clear message to the citizens of Diboll that a police department endorses one specific religion."
The patch design was put on Facebook in March. In the first day the post was up it gained almost a thousand likes and several hundred shares.
Diboll Police Chief Steve Baker explained the meaning behind the new patch. He said that he and Lt. Norman Williams worked together to come up with the new design.
"The black background represents the evil our officers face and the chaos they deal with on a daily basis," Baker wrote in the post. "The blue border that has no start and no end represents our never ending pursuit for justice."
Baker said the large silver star represents his department's desire to be "a shining example of professionalism." The silver star is overlaid on an outline of the state of Texas.
"The small white star represents the fine community that has put its trust in us to serve and protect," Baker said in the post.
He also explained that the "Thin Blue Line" symbolizes the men and women who are willing to sacrifice themselves "to hold that ever-thinning line between good and evil."
"This represents our faith in God that he will always be by our side to carry us through our darkest moments," Baker said in the post.
Cassels said as much as he follows Christian values, he must follow what the Supreme Court has put forward.
"Whatever your logo or emblem or saying is, it can neither advance nor inhibit religion," Cassels said. "Personally I may not agree with it but the Supreme Court dictates the laws we have to live by."
Chief Baker said he thought the issue was over since he agreed with Cassels never to put the patches on his officers.
"I was kind of surprised to see the letter," Baker said. "The majority of the response was real high. The majority of responses were supportive of it."
Baker and other officers worked to come up with a new patch.
"The old patch was just a "D" with a star," Baker said. "It really didn't mean anything. We made this patch to mean something. Everything had meaning. We are keeping the design but replacing the verse with the words "In God We Trust". I talked to Cassels to make sure it would be okay and he said the attorney General said it can be okay, so that's what we will do."
Baker added that the decision does not change the way he feels.
"We all know our own beliefs," Baker said. "We don't need a certain little piece of stitching on our uniforms to get out there how we feel about things."
Cassels said he is writing a letter in response to FFRF to explain the change already took place.