Religious post by college PD removed from Facebook (June/July 2024)

A post promoting Christianity was removed from the University of Wisconsin – Stout Police Department’s Facebook page after the department was contacted by FFRF.

A community member reported that on May 6, 2023, the official UW-Stout Police Department Facebook page posted an image of a sheriff’s badge imposed over a Latin cross with the phrases “In God We Trust” and “Blessed Are Our Peacemakers.” The phrase “Blessed are our peacemakers” is taken from biblical scripture. While the image may have been posted in an effort to honor St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising, who was fatally wounded in the line of duty earlier that month, the image was posted without any clarifying details or information contextualizing the department’s post. The complainant explained that as a non-Christian they did not feel “safe to file a police report or expect [their] reports to be taken as seriously” as someone who is Christian.

“Promoting Christianity through the Department’s official social media suggests that it prefers Christianity over all other religions and nonreligion,” FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the department.

FFRF was informed by Interim Chief of Police Lisa Pederson that the former chief, Jason Spetz, had retired. “I, as interim chief of police, can assure you that the post your organization was concerned with had been taken down and deleted from the UW-Stout Police Department Facebook page during the previous chief’s tenure,” Pederson assured.

Freedom From Religion Foundation