Eugene Cho

special license plate for christians?

ILUVGOD

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?

South Carolina's plate is based on a design by Florida, which was rejected by the state.

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.

Filed under: politics, religion, , ,

18 Responses

  1. Sue says:

    Why do you have to stir up trouble on your sabbatical?

  2. Randall says:

    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.

    On the one hand, I’m not really against religious symbolism on license plates but the guidelines for creating such plates needs to be applied equally to all religions. On the other hand, I find the idea in general to be far too tacky and kitschy to support.

    One’s faith should be demonstrated by the way one lives – not by what they put on their bumper.

    “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.

    Neither do I.

  3. Matt says:

    I don’t have a fish on my car and I can’t imagine having a “Christian” license plate. Why are so many Christians into having their driving habits be their public witness for Christ?
    The car fish symbol has led to the Darwin fish, the Christian fish eating the Darwin fish, etc. Do we want to bring this sad little joust into the realm of license plates? What’s next: “Atheists unite” plates?

  4. Tyler says:

    puts a whole new meaning on set a part. wow. this is stupid.

  5. Sonja says:

    I think it is an interesting concept, not that I would necessarily rush out to purchase one, but if that was on their car, would they watch how their witness was affected while driving, parking and the places that license plate was found??? Maybe Christians would act better.

  6. nathan says:

    I’m personally all for ridiculous stuff like that.

  7. rexhamilton says:

    Reminds me of what Shane Claiborne writes in his book, “Jesus for President”. Basically, he reminds us that the early church lived by the question of how one could live more faithfully to God, while today we all too often live be the question of how can we make America more Christian? This is a great example of that…

    Personally, I think it would make little to no difference in how they as Christians would act/drive as a witness.

  8. If only Christians can do this, it seems clearly unconstitutional. But if people are willing to pay extra for the privilege, and IF other faith groups could do the same, I would have no problem with it. States already allow people to used their license plates to profess their status as veterans, as alums or supporters of various universities, as supporters of cancer research, etc. And I can’t wait to see the first blog post of someone with a Christian plate flipping off another driver.

  9. loveoflanguage says:

    I am outraged to hear that once again, government is sticking its nose into our rights! As Americans, we cannot afford to let these types of issues slide. I don’t care who expresses what belief, or how they express it, as long as it harms noone.

    Let the Christians have their license plates, but, then let muslims, jews, buddhist, and all the rest have the right to express their religious beliefs on a license plate or anywhere else for that matter.

    If we let the government mandate what we can believe in, then America is truly lost forever.

  10. murphy24p says:

    I’m so not-a-fan of this idea; yet another way for churchy people to isolate themselves.

  11. Aaron says:

    I agree with murphy.

    These outward symbols strike me as an attempt of Christians to segregate themselves from the world in which they live.

    Rather than seeking to transform/redeem/bring Christ to the world by being a part of it, they try to separate themselves and draw attention to it through empty symbols.

    What I see in that:

    Look at me, I have a Christian license plate.
    I am part of the club, you are not.
    I am going to heaven, you will burn in hell.
    I love Jesus, you love Satan.
    I am good, you are evil.

    To me its a sign of a Christianity that is a mile wide and an inch deep.

  12. progressyourlifecom says:

    I would love to see a license late that says I believe in myself. Wouldn’t that be odd for someone to say that they believe in themselves, that is some thing you don’t hear often.

    That is definitely a inequality with the world, not enough people believe that they are in control of their lives. We celebrate all sorts of symbolism for our happiness but forget the one thing that matters the most, that is ourselves.

    I want a license plate that states that I believe in my own life and my capabilities to be happy.

    What do you think?

    Mark Babineaux
    http://www.progressyourlife.com

  13. maleesha says:

    I don’t agree with this unless they plan on making plates for every other belief system. I don’t believe you get brownie points with God for having fish, “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter” bumper stickers, or license plates like these.

  14. beattieblog says:

    well, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was the old “church lady” saturday night live skits with Dana Carvey. Pretty cheesy.

  15. craig says:

    The only improvement I could recommend would be to include some sort of animated Thomas Kincaid flowing river in the background. Then you would know the driver was a real Christian. Well, they’d have to be clean, too . . .

    *drip, drip*

    ridiculous.

  16. Nate says:

    Christ said, “They will know you are My followers because you have love for one another.” I’m pretty sure he didn’t include, “… And if you wear t-shirts with pithy sayings about Me and plaster your vehicles with catch phrases that make My calling to you look like a club.”

    I’m gonna echo Tim Stevens here and ask everyone this question: would it be possible to stop putting these things on our cars and move them to your refrigerators? At least that way the rest of the world doesn’t have to look at your narrow-mindedness.

  17. Dean says:

    This will simply give people who are “Left Behind” a heads up when the rapture hits. It may help to avert a few accidents in S.C. as they will know which cars are now without drivers.

  18. dan says:

    In Virginia we’ve had these kinds of plates for years. I don’t think there are any explicitly “Christian” plates but there’s plenty of others that have religious affiliations and there are plenty that could be considered just as controversial. I’ll include a link to Virginia’s special interest plates below.

    The state has simply found a way to increase revenues. They charge an extra $10-$25 per year in fees to have special interest plates. Some plates do require membership or affiliation with a group, such as the Freemason or Professional Firefighter plates. I really don’t see the harm in a government catering to it’s tax payers like this. To create a new type of plate there has to be at least 350 prepaid plate applications and it has to be approved by the General Assembly. I don’t think this type of thing is a bad at all for the state to sponsor. I do think South Carolina needs to work on their process and make it a little easier/cheaper for other groups to get their own plates.

    People ask for scripture references on their checks all the time. (I recently dropped mine in favor of Mr. Potato Head!) But I think it’s great to surround yourself with reminders of who you are in Christ, whether it’s on your license plate, dashboard, screen saver, cell phone background, or whatever. Everyone needs reminding who they are every once in a while.

    @Mark – From my perspective as a Jesus fan, I would disagree that ourselves matter the most. I believe it’s my Creator who deserves my number one priority in life even above myself. He’s my example, Jesus, who cared more for others than himself. I also believe that being with Him is the only source of lasting joy. But if you live in VA I’m sure you could find 350 car owners who believe in themselves enough to get a special license plate. But whose picture would you put on it? Keeping with the SNL references you should put the lady who used to say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it… people like me!”

    Here’s that link to VA DMV:
    Virginia Special Interest Plates

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