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KPD Chief Rausch moves plaque with a Bible verse to a different wall in KPD headquarters after an atheist organization prompted the city to take it down.
Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel

In the Knoxville Police Department headquarters there is a plaque that reads, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The answer to that question, at least in some people’s minds, appears to be, “The Freedom From Religion Foundation.” 

The controversy began when Aleta Ledendecker, president of this organization, wrote a letter to Police Chief David Rausch arguing that this sign was a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Having a Bible verse promotes one particular religion,” she wrote, “and in so doing is discriminatory toward those of other religions or no religion.” She asked the police department to honor the separation of church and state so that citizens of every belief would be treated as equals. 

After a legal review the plaque was moved not removed. The message is now located in a room that the police chief calls a Hall of Inspiration where it is displayed alongside inspirational quotes from a variety of people and traditions. Nevertheless, small changes can produce great controversy.