The Texas DMV Is Set to Vote on a License Plate with Crosses to Support Proselytizing

The board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles did something right this week when they rejected a proposed specialty license plate that would’ve featured a confederate flag:

But listed at the very end of this article in the Austin American-Statesman is a paragraph about another proposed license plate going up for a vote next month:

Next up for the board in December will be a vote on a proposed plate showing the three Christian crosses at Calvary, with the words “One State Under God,” proposed by a Nacogdoches church to raise money for its ministry projects.

So they’re going to vote on a plate that would look something like this… looks like this:

… with proceeds going to benefit Christian proselytizing.

State governments should never be the fundraising arms of local churches. It’s one thing for an optional license plate to benefit museums, non-profit groups, or veterans affairs… but to take sides on which religious groups it wants to support? The DMV would be setting itself up for a lawsuit as soon as a Mosque or atheist group or Jewish group filed for a license plate and got rejected. (Then again, maybe they’d learned their lesson if that happened.)

Right now, the state sells specialty plates reading “God Bless Texas” and “God Bless America.” But in both cases, 80% of the proceeds go back to the Texas Education Agency.

The vote’s not for another month, but you can let the DMV board know what you think about the upcoming proposal.

(Thanks to Keith for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edietzler Betty Dietzler

    Kansas has plates like these as well (“In god we trust”).  They were added a few years back, and they haven’t been particularly popular.  This new design that Texas is adding doesn’t strike me as much more or less gross than the religiously-flavored ones they already had. 

    While ultimately i’ll agree that it’s inappropriate for states to get involved with promoting messages like this, as i’ve said before, it’s hard for me to get too upset about watching the state skim a few extra bucks off the kind of people who feel the need to express their faith in the baby jesus with their license plate.  That said, the fact that they’re funneling the money through to a single specific church is WAY out of line, for sure.

    • Anonymous

      The design might be harmless enough given the other stuff already there, but the state doing active fundraising for churches – actually just one church – really crosses the line

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dale-Kitchens/100003012578944 Dale Kitchens

    I was in favor of the confederate flag plate.  It would have made the idiots and bigots easier to spot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I’m a bit shocked at how shamelessly they’re funneling the money directly to a church specifically to fund that church’s “ministry projects”. It’s so ridiculously unfair that if I were running a church in Texas I’d be A) Jelly I didn’t think if it first, and B) upset that my church isn’t getting a piece of that action. This is a specialty plate for the whole state and it only goes to 1 church? That’s too greedy to work. Every church is going to want a specialty plate funneling money to their projects. If one gets accepted, rejecting any others would be grounds for a lawsuit.

  • http://drzach.net Zachary Moore
  • Anonymous

    One of the reasons for optimism, as I see it, is the fevered frenzy in the Christian community for symbolism. For the past 50 years they seem to be more interested in Christianizing the culture, in other words slapping a christian label something, rather than actual conversion. As a result, Christianity has become an inch deep and a mile wide with the average Christian ignoring any real depth of the faith and obtuse to the deafening cognitive dissonance that exist between their beliefs and the growing mountain of evidence to the contrary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    I sent a comment to the TX DMX through that link you provided Hemant, and thank you for providing that! 

  • Sue Blue

    How about some plates with pentagrams or upside-down crosses with logos like “Satan Lives!” or “Get Weird With Wicca” or “Texans In Thrall to Satan (TITS)”.  Why no cephalopods with “Texas – Abyss of Cthulhu”?  Is the entire state of Texas comprised of no one but vapid, unimaginative Christians?  Are the minds of Texans as arid and wasted as the landscape?

  • Nude0007

    Proceeds going to a church for a purely church function?  Sounds like a job for the FFRF and ACLU.

  • Erp

    Looks like they aren’t the first

    The Episcopal Diocese of Easton in Maryland got there first though I’m not sure whether they are getting funds back from the State.   They aren’t the only religious group (Maryland also has one for a Muslim group); you can search if you like.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C6XFSMIUYAZUDZ4CWUWLV7CEY Josh Pearson

    My letter to the DMV:

    Dear DMV Board Members,

    As a resident of Texas I am ashamed that you are even considering putting a Christian emblem on a state-controlled object. That is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

    It’s already questionable to have plates using the rather Christian version of the word god with “God Bless Texas” and “God Bless America”. While the supreme courts have erroneously supported the use of a capitalized god, as long as no direct religion is named. It still disenfranchises polytheists, atheists, agnostics, and pantheists.

    However emblazoning a Christian cross/crucifix on a state-sanctioned license plate is going too far. To do this is not only an insult to the Constitution, but an insult to every Texas resident as well.

    This state claim to love freedom, yet by choosing to place a Christian symbol onto a state license plate is violating our freedoms entirely. Our cars are our personal property, that includes the several square-feet of painted space one could place a self-purchased, non-state sanctioned, bumper-sticker. That is our prerogative.

    I hate to argue finances as a means to prevent Constitutional violations, but Texas isn’t immune to the current recession and budget deficits afflicting most of the United States. If you do decide to adopt a Christian themed plate you will be opening yourselves up to potential (read: guaranteed) lawsuits from organizations like the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

    As you know lawsuits, especially ones that you will lose as this is a clear violation of the Constitution, are very costly. It would be a fiscally imprudent to follow through with the idea of putting a Christian theme on a state-sanctioned license plate.

    As many of you are probably Christians, I would also like to remind you of Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Not only is this Christian-themed license plate a violation of the Constitution, it clearly is posturing and meant to be seen by others and is therefore also a violation of the Christian Bible.

    Also, would you be willing to create a plate for every single religious demonstration in the world? What about one that is atheistically-minded? Really your only options to maintain the Constitution is to not do the Christian one, or, do one for every religion in the world.

    So for the sanctity of both the United States Constitution, the budget and deficit of Texas, and the Christians Holy Bible, I highly recommend that you stop this plate from going any farther. It is all-around a bad idea, for every potential party involved.

    I thank you for your time and I do hope to hear back from about this issue. Either email or Postal mail will be fine. I also hope that you make the correct decision in this matter, as Texas needs to save money and not risk wasting it by doing something that is going to draw a lawsuit that the state will lose.

    Sincerely,
    Joshua Pearson


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