Florida Considers Christian License Plate

by OnTheWayOut 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • OnTheWayOut

    Florida Considers Christian License Plate

    By JESSICA GRESKO, AP Posted: 2008-04-24 08:22:10 MIAMI (April 24) - Florida drivers can order more than 100 specialty license plates celebrating everything from manatees to the Miami Heat, but one now under consideration would be the first in the nation to explicitly promote a specific religion.

    The Florida Legislature is considering a specialty plate with a design that includes a Christian cross, a stained-glass window and the words "I Believe."

    Rep. Edward Bullard, the plate's sponsor, said people who "believe in their college or university" or "believe in their football team" already have license plates they can buy. The new design is a chance for others to put a tag on their cars with "something they believe in," he said.

    If the plate is approved, Florida would become the first state to have a license plate featuring a religious symbol that's not part of a college logo. Approval would almost certainly face a court challenge.

    The problem with the state manufacturing the plate is that it "sends a message that Florida is essentially a Christian state" and, second, gives the "appearance that the state is endorsing a particular religious preference," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

    The "I Believe" license plate still has a way to go before it reaches the roads. The proposal is part of a package of license plates being debated in the Senate and ready for a floor vote. In the House, the bill that would authorize the plate has passed one committee 8-2. The Legislature's annual session ends May 2.

    Some lawmakers say the state should be careful. Rep. Kelly Skidmore said she is a Roman Catholic and goes to Mass on Sundays, but she believes the "I Believe" plate is inappropriate for the government to produce.

    "It's not a road I want to go down. I don't want to see the Star of David next. I don't want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me," said Skidmore, a Democrat who voted against the plate in committee. "I just believe that."

    Florida's specialty license plates require the payment of additional fees, some of which go to causes the plates endorse.

    One plate approved in 2004, displaying the motto "Family First," funds Sheridan House, which provides family programs but also sees its purpose as "sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Bible" and "information about the Christian faith."

    The bill creating the "I Believe" plate would also create an "In God We Trust" plate to benefit the children of soldiers and law enforcement officers whose parents have died. It also could face opposition as a violation of the separation of church and state.

    An Indiana plate with the same "In God We Trust" phrase has been challenged by the ACLU, but the courts so far have deemed it legal, arguing that it is comparable with other specialty plates.

    This isn't the first time a Florida license plate design has created religious controversy. In 1999, lawmakers approved a bright yellow "Choose Life" license plate with a picture of a boy and girl. It raises money for agencies that encourage women to not have abortions.

    That generated a court battle, with abortion rights groups saying the plate had religious overtones. But it was ruled legal, and about a dozen states now have similar plates.

    A "Trust God" license plate was proposed in Florida in 2003. It would have given money to Christian radio stations and charities, but was never produced.

    Earlier this year, a legislative committee was shown an image of a "Trinity" plate that showed a Christlike figure with his arms outstretched. It and two other plates were voted down.

    The group asking for the "I Believe" plate, the Orlando-based nonprofit Faith in Teaching Inc., supports faith-based schools activities. The plate would cost drivers an extra $25 annual fee.

    Approving the plate could open the state to legal challenges, according to Josie Brown, who teaches constitutional law at the University of South Carolina. And it's not certain who would win.

    "It would be an interesting close call," Brown said.

    Simon, of the ACLU, said approval of the plate could prompt many other groups to seek their own designs, and they could claim discrimination if their plans were rejected. That could even allow the Ku Klux Klan to get a plate, Simon said.

    Bullard, the plate's sponsor, isn't sure all groups should be able to express their preference. If atheists came up with an "I Don't Believe" plate, for example, he would probably oppose it.
  • karvel

    looks kinda cheesy.

  • asilentone
  • Gopher

    Bullard's discriminatory attitude is infuriating. GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE RELIGION-NEUTRAL. Sorry for shouting, but it's an important point. If government stays out of the religion-endorsing business, then people will be free to believe in whatever God they wish, or be free to abstain from believing, without coercion.

    If the government starts to promote one religion, then by default it discriminates against others. Also, it would have unintended consequences, as mentioned in the article. For example ,it could put the government into the awkward position of having to make license plates for hate groups (such as the Ku Klux Klan) or face discrimination lawsuits.

    Bullard showed his discriminatory frame of mind when he said he'd oppose "I don't believe" novelty plates for atheists. Obviously, such plates would go against his personal bias.

  • SacrificialLoon

    I wonder if there's a photoshop of the plate with the FSM on it yet.

  • Gerard

    Doesn't the american money reads In God we Trust.

  • Gopher
    Doesn't the american money reads In God we Trust.

    Yes, and that's government endorsement of theism over non-theism. American money traditionally said "e plurubus unum".

    "In God We Trust" first appeared on the short-lived 1864 two-cent coin. It has been used continuously on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on dimes since 1916. Since July 1, 1908,"In God We Trust" has also been stamped on gold coins, silver dollars, quarters and half-dollar coins. This was due to the influence of Rev. M.P. Watkinson, leader of the National Reform Association, dedicated to spreading the notion that America is a Judeo-Christian nation. (It's not, it was founded as a secular nation whose majority currently happens to be Christian.) They petitioned Congress to change the Constitution, to add a preamble which would state that God was the power of government and he constituted America a Christian government. This failed, thankfully.

    Watkinson worked through Secretary of the Treasury Samuel P. Chase, who eventually got the shortened slogan "in God we trust" put on the first coins in the 1860's.

    Starting in 1955, the slogan "In God We Trust" was mandated to appear on all American money. Note, this is a radical and relatively recent innovation. That year, president Eisenhower signed two laws -- one to mandate the new slogan, and one to replace the old slogan "E Plurubus Unum" with "In God We Trust". This was during the height of the cold war, and Christians used the fear of "Godless communism" to influence passage of this legislation.

    Other innovations at about the same time were the inclusion of "under God" in America's Pledge of Allegiance and a law for all federal justices and judges to swear an oath including the phrase "so help me God".


  • Eyes Open
    Eyes Open

    Ooo, a sunset. What an original idea. Classy.

  • Hope4Others

    It also could face opposition as a violation of the separation of church and state.

    That would be like the mark of the Wild beast to Jw's, they would have to drive insurance/plateless because "they can not support that".

    Could be a few fines, jail time, if it were mandatory somehow. Interesting say the least.

    Proud member/sponsor of the Cuddly Club,



  • kurtbethel

    Of course, you KNOW everyone will want to get in on it, atheists, Satanists, Bahai, Mormons, and even these people:

    Classic Dub Plate

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