April 28, 2008

Florida's Christian License Plates

The the Florida Legislature is considering a new specialty license plate drivers can order that explicitly promotes Christianity. The plate shows a Christian cross in front of a stained-glass window and says "I Believe." Why not? We already have a "Choose Life" plate here in Mississippi which can be ordered by those who oppose reproductive rights for women.

You may be surprised to hear that my initial thought on this matter was, "So what? Let 'em have their plates." They already have their anti-gay and pro W stickers, their Jesus fish, and the like. I even see vehicles with confederate flag emblems regularly. What is one more offensive symbol?

Of course, I realize that this is a church-state issue in that we are talking about the state government selling these license plates. I agree that this does make the Florida plates quite different from the examples I cited above. They are not appropriate and should be opposed.
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.
Yep. That is the problem here and precisely what makes this different than some nutjob slapping a Jesus fish on his or her car.

What is particularly telling is Rep. Kelly Skidmore's statement that this would open the door to the state having to have plates for all other religions. I'm glad she is opposed to the Christian plates, but I hope this is not the only reason for her opposition.

Even better is the admission of the "I Believe" plate's sponsor that he would oppose an atheistic "I Don't Believe" version. Evidently, state promotion of religion is fine as long as it is your religion they are promoting.

H/T to The Carpetbagger Report

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