License Plates: CHRCH ST8: SEPR8?
In Florida, car drivers have over 100 choices for personalized license plates. But a Florida lawmaker now wants the state to offer a more divine option:
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 legal problem, the Florida ACLU says, is that such a plate "sends a message that Florida is essentially a Christian state" and gives the "appearance that the state is endorsing a particular religious preference."
Critics have good reason to fear religious favoritism is involved: when asked if he'd support an "I Don't Believe" plate for atheists, Rep. Bullard said probably not.
Chris Kromm is executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and publisher of the Institute's online magazine, Facing South.