In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott lent his full support to the Childress Police Department, which recently came under fire for displaying the motto “In God We Trust” on its patrol vehicles.

The move by the department drew criticism from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national secular and church-state watchdog group that called the use of the phrase exclusionary.

Last week, two state lawmakers who represent the community asked Paxton for a formal opinion on whether displaying the motto is legal. Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, support the police department.

Abbott, a former state attorney general, cited case law in his letter, saying the motto has survived legal challenges for more than 40 years.

“There can be no doubt that courts in Texas would uphold the constitutionality of the Childress Police Department’s decision to place ‘In God We Trust’ on the department’s patrol vehicles,” Abbott said in the letter. “If the Childress Police Department chooses to continue this patriotic display, it will have my full support.”

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