South Carolina “I Believe” Plates Halted

South Carolina’s “I Believe” license plates (shown in a mockup above) are not going to issued in the state, thanks to an injunction by a district judge.

In a five-page order, [Judge Cameron McGowan] Currie said she issued the injunction because federal courts would likely find the law that created the plates a gross violation of the Constitution’s ban on government establishment of religion.

Currie noted that federal courts under 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by which South Carolina is covered, use a three-pronged test established by the Supreme Court to determine if something violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The so-called “Lemon Test” requires that any state law have a secular purpose, neither advance nor inhibit religion as its primary effect and not lead to “excessive entanglement” between religion and government.

“Based on the record now before the court, the court finds it unlikely that the I Believe Act satisfies even one of these three requirements. As the act must satisfy all three requirements to survive constitutional scrutiny, the court concludes that plaintiffs have made a strong showing of likelihood of success,” Currie wrote.

Good decision. We don’t need the government promoting Christianity over other faiths or no faith.

My favorite part of the decision is probably the list of plaintiffs challenging the plates:

Rev. Dr. Thomas A Summers, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Knight, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus, Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, Hindu American Foundation, and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Not an atheist group in the bunch.

It’s not that we shouldn’t be on the list; it’s that we don’t need to be on the list. There are people from other backgrounds who also believe this is wrong. With the help of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, they helped put a stop to these inappropriate plates.

Also amusing from the court order? The last part, in which Judge Currie sounds like the Voice of God herself:

One last thing: South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State, has an online poll on this issue. They ask:

Do you think this ruling is fair?

Right now, the nays have it.



That needs to change.

***Update***: It changed! We win the moral victory:

poll2

If the Christians want to publicly display their faith, they can use bumper stickers, Dashboard Jesuses, etc.

They don’t need taxpayers supporting them in their efforts.

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981631304 Jeffrey Mark

    “It is so ordered”

    So it shall be written, so it shall be done! :-)

    Just an interesting tidbit, at least I think this is interesting, Americans United For Separation of Church and State is headed up by a Christian minister. (Although he’s ordained in the Church of Christ, which a lot of fundamentalists consider an abomination before God! :-) )

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    What if they offered “I believe” and had the FSM on it?

    What about if they offered a plate: “I don’t know and you don’t either?” :)

  • Joanna

    What about if they offered a plate: “I don’t know and you don’t either?”

    YES, that could be the ALTERNATIVE…ha ha.

    I think people have soooo many ways to express their religious views on their vehicles (and elsewhere) that providing Christian “vanity plates” is overkill and unnecessary AND unconstitutional to boot. I loved that phrase “excessive entanglement between religion and government”…such a mental image….octopus comes to mind.

    I saw a collection of religious air freshener things you hang from your rearview mirror at Kmart yesterday: Jesus, Mary, etc. Bet they make your car smell EXTRA religious…and maybe they protect you from harm TOO.

  • ChrisO.

    As of 9:53pm, The “yeas” have it

  • Josh J

    “IT IS SO ORDERED”

    I read that as if said by a stereotypical valley girl. “Like, that is just SO ordered”

  • Aidan

    Someone get this over to PZ… poll crashing is his specialty after all

  • Erp

    Actually the head of Americans United, Barry Lynn, is ordained in the _United_ Church of Christ. The Church of Christ without the United is quite conservative.

  • http://atownfs.blogspot.com/ Mr. David M. Beyer

    Wow. I love that you highlighted the names of the opposition; that’s noteworty. I’m willing to bet that it also carried a lot more weight in the eyes of the judge than if it had been those known for non-religious beliefs.
    Good find.

  • http://www.tuibguy.com Mike Haubrich, FCD

    South Carolina still has a plate that says “In God We Trust.” Here is a full gallery, which also includes a plate for certified “Sons of Confederate Veterans.”

    South Carolina, still celebrating treason after 143 years.

  • Miko

    And the United States still celebrates its treason every July 4th. Your point?

  • William

    In Indiana, one can opt for a plate that reads “In God We Trust”. Unfortunately, I haven’t found out yet if there is an extra charge for the plate. Several vehicles owned by residents in my building have the plate. One pickup truck also has a boat/trailer hitch that also has something about god on it. What a State!

  • Adam

    Indiana has a plate that talks about god in the Xian way. I can’t remember what it says exactly, but I remember seeing it this past summer when I was driving through there.

    Thank goodness this one didn’t get through. Totally blatant!

    I just voted and it is now 67% yes.

  • http://deeplyblasphemous.blogspot.com Chris Bradley

    I’m gonna point out that spamming the paper’s online quiz isn’t going to change a single thing in South Carolina.

  • PrimeNumbers

    What religious people have to get through to their heads is that they can believe whatever they want, but they cannot expect anyone else to pay for it.

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981631304 Jeffrey Mark

    Erp Says:
    “Actually the head of Americans United, Barry Lynn, is ordained in the _United_ Church of Christ. The Church of Christ without the United is quite conservative.”

    YES. You are absolutely right. Thanks for clarifying that!

  • travgav

    what about the (in god we trust) plate they have?

  • http://newref.blogspot.com/ James

    “I’m gonna point out that spamming the paper’s online quiz isn’t going to change a single thing in South Carolina.”

    Maybe there are some closeted atheists in SC that would be encouraged by seeing the poll. Also, it will do the religious majority in SC to see that not everybody agrees with them.

  • http://deeplyblasphemous.blogspot.com Chris Bradley

    James,

    I went to college in Charleston, SC, so I definitely know there are atheists there – but the religious folks in SC already think that us evil atheists control everything. By and large, it’s just going to feed their persecution complex. The world is a hostile, evil place with Satan’s minions everywhere.

  • MH

    I voted and now it is up to 75% yes. So Hemant and his readers are getting pretty good at poll crashing too.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Good on the judge and nice to know those with opinions spoke up and protected freedom from religion.

  • Richard Wade

    Hemant, update the survey results. Right now the survey shows 79% say the ruling is fair and 21% think it is unfair.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant, update the survey results. Right now the survey shows 79% say the ruling is fair and 21% think it is unfair.

    Updated!


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