Earlier this month, the Crandall, Texas Police Department decided to join in on the fun that's been seen all over social media recently. Local police officers participating in a make-believe lip-syncing competition to their favorite song. Police departments from all over the country have joined in.
According to the Crandall Police Department's Facebook page, several of their citizens had requested their local officers to get involved in the fun online, so they did. Their lip-sync video, however, was not to a rap song, country song or popular contemporary rock and roll song. Instead, they chose to do their lip-sync to the Newsboys hit song "God's Not Dead."
Along with the completed video, the department posted the following note to their Facebook page.
"Due to NUMEROUS requests from our Citizens... Here it is!!! The Crandall Police Department's Lip Sync Challenge. What an awesome way to create conversations and relationships with the community. Have fun in life, keep safe and be humble... We Challenge Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney Investigators and the Wilbarger County Sheriff's Office," the post said.
However, once the video was posted, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) started its drive to have the video taken down, telling the Crandall Police Department and its police chief they were in violation of the US Constitution.
Giving the video a "thumbs down," the Wisconsin-based atheist organization wrote "Government employees can worship, pray, or read any religious text they wish when acting in their personal capacities. But they are not permitted to provide prestige to their personal religion through the machinery of a government office. The police department belongs to "We the people," not the department's temporary occupants."
When Crandall Police Chief Dean Winters was asked by Pure Flix Insider about his response to the FFRF request, he responded with the emoji for a wink and a smile – a colon and a parenthesis.
Winters, a devout Christian, says despite the online debate, his community has rallied around the department's music video.
"Our community has come together and posted pictures and videos in support of the police department's 'God's Not Dead' video," Winters said. "We've also received numerous emails and letters from citizens and officers from all over the nation and people from a handful of other countries, expressing their gratitude to the officers in our department."
"Of course there are always detractors," he told Pure Flix in an email. "But in this case, a little bit of darkness is making His light shine even brighter."
Winters also explained the importance of his faith, noting that it "enhances" his ability to perform his law enforcement duties.
"My faith in Jesus gives me the strength to deal with so many different aspects of life," Winters said. "First and foremost, in my most important role as a husband and father, but also in my role as an officer and chief of police."
Winters added, "I don't believe faith interferes with the ability to serve, but instead it enhances it."
The chief is hoping his department's music video shows citizens in the Crandall community that his officers are "just normal people." He thinks this will help portray the men and women who wear the police uniform as human – as people just like them.
As of the time of publication of this story, the Crandall Police Department's video has received almost eight million views and has been shared more than 223,000 times.