An Atheist License Plate Story with a Happy Ending

After reading Jason‘s story, this one makes me feel a little more optimistic.

Doug moved to Louisiana earlier this year and registered his car in his new home state.

The Department of Motor Vehicles website explains how anyone can get a personalized license plate — you can even type in what you want and they’ll let you know if it’s “unacceptable or unavailable.”

If you type in things like: JESUS, CHRIST, GOD, 4GOD, 4JESUS, JESUS4U, GO2GOD, LOVEGOD, or ALL4GOD, you will find out all of those are unavailable (presumably already taken and on the road).

If you type in FUCKYOU, you’ll see it’s unacceptable.

Doug decided to type in GODLESS. He saw that it was available. He happily filled out the application. Shortly after that, Then he got an email response that began:

Your plate request cannot be approved…

Oh really…?

Doug writes:

This made the secular hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Was this not blatant bias on the side of religion by the government-run Department of Motor Vehicles of Louisiana, and therefore a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment and the Louisiana Constitution?

So Doug wrote back explaining that he was a director of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA). He felt the plate was an ideal one for him. Certainly, it wasn’t offensive to anyone else; it was just describing who he was.

That was all it took.

He received another email from the DMV:

Your request for the prestige plate, “GODLESS,” has been reconsidered and will be approved.

Wow. That was quick and painless. Now, why was it “rejected” in the first place? I don’t know. But a quick, polite response from Doug must have changed the DMV’s mind.

Doug paid the money. He waited the requisite several weeks. And finally:

Doug

Woo!

By the way, if you request the license plate NO GOD, it’s listed as available :) As is IH8GOD for those of you who enjoy provoking road rage (I don’t approve). For that matter, so is GODDAMN. I’m surprised about that one…

ATHEIST is already taken.

Doug suggests:

I’d like to throw down the gauntlet to my fellow freethinkers and ask them to apply for similar theistically un-flattering license plates. You don’t have to buy them; just push the edges of the DMV’s religious tolerance envelope.

Have any of the rest of you with pro-atheist plates ever had trouble getting them approved?

  • ccubeman

    I’m all for atheistic plates – if it’s on another persons vehicle.

    Call me a wimpy skeptic, but I’m too paranoid some nutbar would key or otherwise damage my vehicle. I guess being practical about non-belief is not necessarily bad.

    Plates notwithstanding, I have this shirt: http://www.cafepress.com/strange_charm It gets me a strange look on occasion.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Or IH8GOD may be appropriate for a diehard fan of the heavy metal band of the same name…

  • El Zilcho

    It’s good to know that BALLSAK, LIKASS and B0N3R are all available.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    I like what the bracket says,

    Atheist
    Because Honesty Compels

    Got to get me one of those.

  • Richard Wade

    Now, why was it “rejected” in the first place? I don’t know. But a quick, polite response from Doug must have changed the DMV’s mind.

    I imagine a mid level DMV administrator decided it was “offensive,” and rejected it simply because he thought he could get away with it. But when Doug revealed that he isn’t just some individual, but is a director of an organization that can fight back and hand them a nice, juicy lawsuit, then the administrator decided to “do the right thing.”

    This is why atheist organizations are important. There’s nothing like a little muscle to encourage people to honor principles instead of indulging their prejudice.

  • http://www.let-me-be-frank.blogspot.com smellincoffee

    Blair Scott (of American Atheists) went a few rounds with the Alabama DMV when he applied for “ATHE1ST”. His comments are at the blog below.

    http://nalrant.wordpress.com/

  • CybrgnX

    Shots are heard and a Xtian witness sees a white van turn the corner. And as the Xtian runs around the corner he sees a white van at the light with the plate reading GODLESS. All other white vans disappear and guess who the cops chase down?? Can’t Happen?? Guess again!! a similar thing did happen to me. No thanks I would rather blend into the crowd as the ‘enemy’ is everywhere! I do not have any kind of vanity plate. No I’m not a coward as I tend to make cowards look brave.

  • Brian C Posey

    I have doubts about the effectiveness of their initial “inappropriateness” filter. The following also come up as available:

    FUKITAL···········ASSFUCK···········FUCKTRD·············ASSWIPE··········GAYSEX
    CLITMAN··········CUNTMAN···········BIGCOCK·············BALLSAC··········FUCKGOD

    However these were not available:

    SODOMY··········PUSSY··············DICKHED··············ATHEIST············EATSHIT

    I had way too much fun messing with this site.

  • Mark

    I want to get one of those “In God We Trust” Indiana Plates that they’re trying to hock at us and then have the call letters read “JKLOL.”

  • bill

    “ATHEIST” and “EATSHIT” contain all the same letters, just thought that was funny….

    and it would be fun to see all the different possibilities with the IGWT plates. you can take “JKLOL,” i’ll take “FALSE”…

  • John L.

    This man is my hero.

  • Robert Thille

    THOURTGD

    Do you Grok it?

    That is, “Thou Art God”

  • Doggylives

    FCKME is acceptable but not FCKGOD :)

  • Stephen P

    I imagine a mid level DMV administrator decided it was “offensive,” and rejected it simply because he thought he could get away with it. But when Doug revealed that he isn’t just some individual, but is a director of an organization that can fight back and hand them a nice, juicy lawsuit, then the administrator decided to “do the right thing.”

    You may be right, but my guess is that the explanation is more prosaic: a minor administrator rejected it on a reflex without even putting his/her brain in gear; when the letter came in, a slightly more senior administrator looked at it and corrected the mistake.

  • http://slightlysouthofsane.com Tony
  • http://slightlysouthofsane.com Tony

    GODSUX is avail in FL.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    SUKITJC is available, as are GOD SUX and KILLGOD.

    And, whilst I’m waxing sophomoric,
    JIZZMAN is also available.

    [Those are available in both LA & FL, BTW.]
    [[and, yeah, I see that Tony sorta beat me to it]]

  • http://atheismascending.blogspot.com/ Chrystal Ocean

    Almost makes me wish I had a car!

  • http://10plusyears.blogspot.com/ 10plus

    I used to have one in Maine that read, ‘Infidel’. That, and two bumper stickers that read, ‘No gods, no masters’ and ‘Nothing fails like prayer’ (Thanks, ffrf!). Anyway, got pulled over for speeding and passing in a no-passing zone (even worse, I think the car I passed was the cop. It was dark and I wasn’t really paying attention, so I’m not sure). Anyway, he let me go without so much as a written warning. Not at all what I was expecting!

  • Revyloution

    A-HA! Further proof that the goatee is the official facial hair of the atheist!

    As far as vanity plates, I prefer mine

    QT3141

    Extra credit for the first one who gets it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    QT3141

    Cutie Pie :) Yay me for being a math teacher.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Call me a Rounding Nazi, but I’m thinking QT3142 would be more correct.

    Great idea, nevertheless. ;]

  • http://maskrenter.tumblr.com/ maskrenter

    saw this one the other day on the way to work…
    http://twitpic.com/90q1w

  • 3D

    Something tells me that it was the mention of belonging to a secular humanist group that got the decision reversed. Sounds like they didn’t want to deal with the headache of legal wrangling, so they caved.

    I’d like to be wrong, but I have a feeling that someone who just requested the plate be made available without any backup wouldn’t have the same success.

  • curdog

    Nice plate…but I would expect to be keyed in the name of jesus anywhere outside of new orleans.

  • http://godlessevangelist.com Doug Stewart

    Some relatively tame and cryptic ideas are, OVERGOD, 4GETGOD, (forget god), ENUFGOD, (enough god), WHY GOD, Y JESUS, YY4 GOD, (too wise for god), 26E4GOD, (too sexy for god), 2QT4GOD, (too cute for god), GOD LOL, (god, laugh out load). Some more radical plates could read, I H8GOD, GODH8R, H8JESUS, H8FAITH, GODSBAD, GOD SUX, MAD GOD, CRZYGOD, CYCOGOD, DAMNGOD. Some suggestions that would probably be rejected on the grounds of vulgarity are are, FAWQGOD, FCK GOD, 4Q GOD, FU GOD, GOD WTF, (god, what the f***), GOD BFD, (god, big f****** deal), DOGKCUF, (read it backwards), but, what the hell?… I mean heck.

    Or, if you can perform miracles, like getting the DMV to do the right thing, how about, I AM GOD?

  • littlejohn

    I also live in a red state (Indiana), and I’d be a little nervous with GODLESS on my plate. I assume the only reason my Darwin fish hasn’t gotten my car vandalized is that most people don’t look at it closely enough to realize it’s not a Jesus fish. I admire this guy’s courage and tenatiousness. But just wait until some redneck cop winds up behind him in traffic. He better come to an absolutely full stop at every intersection!

  • David D.G.

    Revyloution wrote:

    A-HA! Further proof that the goatee is the official facial hair of the atheist!

    Actually, that type of beard style is properly called a Van Dyke. The goatee is just the little tuft of hair under the middle of the lower lip.

    Sorry to be a “beard pedant,” but as someone who used to wear this style of beard, I consider this labeling error one of my pet peeves.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://theamericanheathen.com RJ Evans

    I applied to the Oklahoma DMV for the vanity plate “ATHEIST” and was approved without any problems. I PROUDLY display it on my black ’08 BMW 335xi. Surprisingly, I get very few negative looks, no comments, and have had no issues with vandals. Who could have figured the belt buckle of the bible belt would be so accepting? LOL!

  • http://godlessevangelist.com Doug Stewart

    While I was applying for my GODLESS license plate, http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/07/01/an-atheist-license-plate-story-with-a-happy-ending/ in Louisiana, there’s a web http://www.expresslane.org, where Louisianans can type in their requested wording. I tried NO GOD and NO GODS and both came back with “Inappropriate”. I wrote the the DMV a couple of times asking to get the wording taken off the inappropriate list to no avail.

    I just checked and this time it comes back with the message “The personalized plate NO GODS is available.”

    Yippee! Someone eventually grew a conscience.

  • http://americanheathen.net RJ Evans

    I applied for ATHEIST 3 years ago here in Oklahoma. No questions or issues of any kind. It was approved. However, the plate of GODLESS is on the “Do Not Issue” list. Go figure. LOL!