BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey appeared on the conservative talk show "Fox & Friends" Friday morning to defend his decision to put "In God We Trust" decals on Brevard County Sheriff's Office vehicles, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
The decals were criticized by atheist and agnostic groups last week, who said the slogan violates the constitutional tenet of separation between church and state.
Ivey took to the right-leaning Fox News channel to double-down on criticisms the decal might disrespect those with different or no religious beliefs.
"Fox & Friends" introduced the segment by describing opposition group the Freedom From Religion Foundation as "an organization named after a misunderstanding of our Constitution."
"They have a better chance of me waking up thin than they do of me taking the motto off of our cars," Ivey told Fox producers, according to co-host Ainsley Earhardt on Friday's segment.
"I think we can all see that didn't happen," Ivey quipped back, grinning.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a statement last week that “spending taxpayer time placing religious messages on patrol cars is beyond the scope of secular government."
Ivey said he knew "there might be this type of reaction from some."
"I personally believe our country's at a tipping point. And if strong, patriotic Americans don't start standing up for the principles of this great country, we're going to lose this great country," Ivey said on air.
His statement underscores the central disagreement between Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the atheist groups opposed to him: whether separation of church and state is itself a principle of the country, and whether Ivey and his department violated that principle with the decal.
Ivey also cited court rulings saying "that the national motto 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character, and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise."
"I'm not sure how the Freedom From Religion Foundation raises money since every dollar they receive has 'In God We Trust' on it," joked co-host Pete Hegseth.
"As I tell everybody, when you call 911, we don't ask you what political party you're affiliated with. We don't ask you if you believe in God, or if you don't. We ask you where you're at so we can come save your life," said Ivey to end the segment.