83rd District Attorney's Office
Gov. Greg Abbott said through a spokesman that he supports the crosses on Brewster County Sheriff's vehicles.
That whole “separation of church and state” concept is tricky business.
The Brewster County Sheriff's Office, located way out in the Big Bend Country, recently started putting cross decals on the back of their vehicles.
This didn't sit well with the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which “called out” the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office in a December 21 news release
for allowing the cross decals on its patrol vehicles.
"It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for a government entity to display a Latin cross on its property because it conveys a preference by the Sheriff's Office—and by extension, Brewster County—for religion over nonreligion and Christianity over all minority faiths," said Sam Grover, a lawyer for the foundation.
The sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that Sheriff Ronny Dodson “wanted God’s protection over his deputies and that the thin blue line stands for law enforcement.”
Rod Ponton, the 83rd District Attorney who serves four West Texas counties, was asked by the Brewster County Sheriff's Office to request an opinion on the crosses from the Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to Marfa Public Radio
. He did so on December 21, asking “whether the mere display of a cross on a Sheriff patrol vehicle, violates the First Amendment.”
Ponton noted that the sheriff’s office “responds to all issues, calls, and citizens without regard to religion or belief.”
Paxton hasn’t officially made a decision yet, but that hasn’t stopped Gov. Greg Abbott, who held Paxton’s position before moving into the Governor’s Mansion, from weighing in.
“The Constitution demands respect for religious expression rather than hostility towards it and Governor Greg Abbott fully supports Sheriff Dodson’s decision to allow his deputies to display the Cross on their patrol vehicles,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman told the San Antonio Express News
via email on Tuesday.
In a similar case in October, Abbott and Paxton both said that putting "In God We Trust" decals on Childress Police Department vehicles was legal.