New Jersey Nixes License Plate That Says ATHE1ST, Calling the Word ‘Offensive’

If you ever come across a passenger car with New Jersey plates that spell ATHE1ST (with a number 1 instead of the letter I), chances are that the driver is David Silverman, the president of American Atheists. Give him a friendly wave. Silverman will have earned it, because he will have prevailed in his current feud with New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

You see, the other day, the MVC’s powers-that-be decided to reject rather than rubber-stamp Silverman’s application, on the grounds that a license plate that says ATHE1ST is “offensive.”

In other words: According to New Jersey authorities, you can drive around with plates that say 4CHRIST or LUV YHWH or GO THOR or pretty much any letter combination that signals a belief in god(s), but stating that you live free from superstitions is offensive and intolerable, and no innocent motorists and pedestrians must be subjected to such a horror.


It doesn’t sound like Silverman was looking for a fight, but the Garden State just gave him one. He’s already filed his first appeal.

We’ll keep you posted.

***Update***: Dave Silverman’s appeal letter can be read here. More information is on American Atheists’ website.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.