". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

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Haven Police Chief Says Nationwide Attention Fueled Decal Win

June 2, 2022

Haven, Kansas Police Chief Stephen Schaffer shared a behind-the-scenes look at how the small-town dispute over the national motto became a nationwide controversy during a monthly call organized by Family Research Council’s men’s ministry, Stand Courageous — and how he kept the faith in the process.

On May 2, Schaffer says he attended what he thought would be an ordinary city council meeting. It turned out to be anything but. During the gathering, he describes how council members launched a “sneak attack” to remove the “In God We Trust” decals from police vehicles. The Army veteran was stunned at the speed at which the decision was made and expressed his frustration when officials directed him to have the national motto removed from all police vehicles by the next meeting.

Schaffer returned home distraught and spent time praying with his wife.

“And the thing that God put on me that evening was Matthew 22 and verse 21. And He talks about therefore render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that belong to God. So right then and there, I’m like, ‘All right, God. Caesar can have his chariot. He can do whatever he wants with that. But my heart, mind, and soul belong to you. So that made it easier for me to go to work the next day and hold my head up.”

The following morning, Schaffer received multiple phone calls and emails from Haven residents and reporters who were under the assumption that he made the decision to remove the national motto from police vehicles himself. Schaffer assured them that he was not in favor of the decision but would honor it since the city council oversees his department.

“The next thing I know, as you drive around town, there are yard signs all over the place with ‘In God We Trust.’ You see ‘In God We Trust’ on the backs of people’s cars. And just hundreds of emails and phone calls and text messages. Some I knew, some I didn’t know. And it was nice to watch the community rally around [us], because this again is a small community, and it was refreshing to see them stand up and push back.”

In support of the Haven residents, FRC Action launched a petition to help pressure the city to reverse the decision. Approximately, 19,568 people signed the petition demanding that Haven City keep the “In God We Trust” decals.

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you,” Schaffer said. “All the support that I got from FRC and just from the citizens, it was just so heartwarming.”

During the next council meeting on May 16, the council members ultimately listened to their constituents and decided to keep the “In God We Trust” decals in a vote of 3-2.

At the end of the day, Schaffer says, the national motto isn’t “a battle cry.” “It’s not a ‘Hey, let’s stick it to the man,’ thing. [It’s] a legitimate thing. Put your faith and trust in God.” And if one person came to Christ and was saved because of this coast-to-coast exposure, “it would be 100% worth it,” he insists. “It’s still worth it, regardless.”

Deborah Laker serves as a staff writer at The Washington Stand.