South Carolina is planning to print and issue license plates for Christians – upon requests and I’m assuming, a certain fee. Who’s in line to get one? Their design will be based on a license similar to the one in Florida [pic below]…which interestingly, was rejected by the state. Recount, anyone?
I’m in FULL support of people expressing their faith and other convictions – whatever they may be. But state issued license plates? I’m a Christian and a pastor but I still don’t get it. Your thoughts?
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) — Unless a federal court intervenes, South Carolina drivers may soon be able to profess their Christian faith with a state-issued license plate.
South Carolina’s plate is based on a design by Florida, which was rejected by the state.
The state plans to issue plates featuring a Christian cross and the words “I Believe,” but a group advocating the separation of church and state says that goes too far.
A similar design had been considered by Florida’s lawmakers, but it was rejected there because of concerns over separation of church and state.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which includes Christian, Jewish and Hindu clergy, filed a federal lawsuit last month. The group contends that the plates violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against government favoring one religion over another religion or non-religion.
South Carolina became the first state to offer Christian car tags last month, when Gov. Mark Sanford allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The state legislature had passed it unanimously.
“I think it allows people of faith to profess that they believe in a higher calling, they believe in God,” said Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Bauer has offered to personally pay a $4,000 deposit required for the Department of Motor Vehicles to begin producing the plates. The fee would be returned to him later.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Bauer’s willingness to pay the deposit “more deeply confirms this is a government-sponsored program.”
“I don’t believe that these license plates will ever be on any car in South Carolina, because I think our Constitutional claim is so strong,” Lynn said.
South Carolina’s legislature has not made a similar specialty plate available for any other faith, he said.
While individuals can ask the DMV to print plates for other faiths — for a $4,000 fee — the request would be subject to significant limits and rules not imposed for the Christian plate. Other tags could feature a religious symbol — such as the Star of David — but no words would be allowed.
The Christian plate will include the words “I Believe” and a bright-yellow cross on a multicolored stained glass church window.
Lynn’s group said in a news release “that other religions will not be able to get similar license plates expressing differing viewpoints, nor can a comparable ‘I Don’t Believe’ license plate be issued.
“The state has made believers of non-Christian faiths feel that they are second-class citizens,” Lynn said. “Under our Constitution, that’s impermissible.”
Bauer said allowing Christians to have a specialty license plate is freedom of speech. He said those who oppose are prejudiced against Christians.
“We’re not going to back down,” Bauer said. “We’re going to fight for a change. I’m tired of seeing Christians back down in fear of a lawsuit.”
Bauer also said he is not afraid of a personal political backlash against him.
“If I were never to get elected or serve in another capacity because I pronounce my faith as a Christian, I don’t have a problem with that,” Bauer said.