Honk, If You Love Jesus: Florida Extends State Advancement of Religion to License Plates

Florida is continuing its struggle against the separation of church and state with a new promotion of religion: special license plates for the faithful. The legislature is considering a plate featuring a Christian cross, a stained-glass church window and the words “I Believe.” The sponsor of this unconstitutional measure is Rep. Edward Bullard who sees absolutely no difference between vanity plates and divinity plates. This is no doubt an effort to close the license gap with Iran, which has a “Honk if You Love Allah” plate.

Bullard insists that there is no difference between his religious plates and plates supporting a university or football team — missing the minor point that the first amendment is not written to prevent the entanglement of the state and the Dolphins. It is merely, he says, “something they believe in.”

The state already has a plate with the motto “Family First,” which funds Sheridan House, a Christian organization prompting aspects of faith.

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39 thoughts on “Honk, If You Love Jesus: Florida Extends State Advancement of Religion to License Plates”

  1. A friend wrote me privately concerned that I needed to edify a previous comment about the Old and New Testaments.

    My comments above were not to nullify one and propose the other, or denigrate either set of subscribers. I was merely attempting to point out that the small “c” christians, a mostly secular political group with little knowledge of scripture from a theological perspective … search the most obscure passages from the Old Testament as opposed to quoting the central doctrine of what they propose to be their faith.

    Again, I want to be clear – I am mocking secular political machines that pretend to be Christian fellowships.

  2. janolin:

    Don’t trip running from your own words. You specifically said “I think the secular left led by the ACLU (Atheists Civil Litigation Union) willfully misconstrue “freedom of religion” as “freedom from religion.” We do have right to be free “from” religion, as well as the freedom of religion, and that is what rcampbell called you on. Which is it then do we or do we not have the right to be free from religion?

  3. Quite the contrary. The ACLU’s legal history points to their striving to make “none” the only choice in a public venue.

    As I said, I see no legitimate problem with the license plates as long as it’s not limited to just specific religions and/or philosophies.

    rcampbell,

    Your argument is spurious. Nobodies has suggested that such plates be mandatory. It’s a voluntary endeavor and one that costs extra to take part in.

  4. JONOLAN WROTE:
    I think the secular left led by the ACLU (Atheists Civil Litigation Union) willfully misconstrue “freedom of religion” as “freedom from religion.”

    The ACLU does not lead nor is it involved in my atheism. The ACLU has an extensive and praiseworthy record of defending and protecting all our civil liberties, not just atheism. They would, for instance, vigorously defend your right to be so wrong in your position on this.

    If freedom of religion is not also freedom from religion, then you are suggesting that Americans are free to choose from an approved list of religions, but that the choice of “none” is not an option. That hardly stands up to basic logic let alone as a legal position under the US Constitution.

    Who would support such position? Certainly not liberals who readily accept atheism as a choice. I wouldn’t think Libertarians would agree either, as they don’t want a government let alone one that would tell a citizen how to conduct their religious life. Even traditional Republicans would resist the heavy hand of government controlling so personal a decision. So, who’s left? Only the religiously devout from various sects would deny freedom from religion. Since we are a nation of laws rather than of satisfying religious doctrine, the denial of all options of religious freedoms, including “from” is in error.

  5. Indeed … that circles us clear back to License Plate Frames. Couldn’t agree with you more, the government has been indoctrinated slowly into a privatized / free market approach and believe they are in business. This is the launching pad for further corporatism of government.

  6. Isn’t this just another revenue idea by the state? Wouldn’t the government generate more by requiring registration and inspection of lawn mowers? Since the state has a monopoly on registration, why not just raise the price? Perhaps lottery tickets should be sold under religious affiliations as well? I guess that might interfere with bingo night. Let’s ban 666 from the daily number while we’re at it.

    The government has no business doing more than the minimum to register vehicles on roads, which is a debatable proposition in the first place. I’ll think it’s a good idea when the license plates go beyond “I believe” to “I doubt it” or “Myths are for kids”, “I evolved. You didn’t”, and “God made me an atheist” …

  7. Driving south from the airport last night on I-95, after spending time in NYC, I was passed by 3 guys on motorcycles doing over 100mph and none wore helmets. Florida is the Wild West for a lifelong NY’er now living there, like me. I am constantly either in a state of being dumbfounded or cynically amused by the machinations of its politicians and the weirdness of it all. Religious license plates are yet another symptom of a pathology I find hard to fathom. This is so because the hypocrisy of the “morals” chorus plays counterpoint to the unvarnished greed of the society. The weather, however, is beautiful, housing is cheap and the roads are wide.

  8. And of course what typically happens in the course of these discussions, is that the greater population receives the message that this is about a group of nuts trying to take away the State of Florida’s right to produce license plates with a good wholesome USA message. Again – precisely the wisdom of the founders to not permit power brokers to claim a higher authority

    Why not just buy a license plate frame inscribed with the most devotional phrase one can conceive? Alas, that would not serve to summon the masses as to the terror of our secular Constitution and our need to fortify the Nation with a certified theocracy, even if it is from small “c” christians who endlessly quote scripture from the Old Testament and treat the New Testament as though it were some commie pinko pamphlet and not the primary doctrine of Christian faith.

    In fact perhaps we could ask the defense department to silkscreen the Kellogg-Briand Pact on all military ordnance used in Iraq, and any bombs headed for Iran. Hey, maybe even some interpretive verse from Pastor Hagee??

  9. Live godly or DIE!

    Many of you have just profaned my holy thoughts concerning license plates. Bless you!

    Jill

  10. Thou shalt not take thy Lord’s name in vain

    Or

    Thou shalt not attach thy Lord’s name to vanity; i.e. emptiness.

    Or

    Thou shalt not attach thy Lord’s name to vanity plates.

    “In the course of the opposition to the bill in the House of Delegates, which was warm & strenuous from some of the minority, an experiment was made on the reverence entertained for the name & sactity of the Saviour, by proposing to insert the words “Jesus Christ” after the words “our lord” in the preamble, the object of which, would have been, to imply a restriction of the liberty defined in the Bill, to those professing his religion only. The amendment was discussed, and rejected by a vote of agst (See letter of J. M. to Mr Jefferson dated ) The opponents of the amendment having turned the feeling as well as judgment of the House agst it, by successfully contending that the better proof of reverence for that holy name wd be not to profane it by making it a topic of legisl. discussion, & particularly by making his religion the means of abridging the natural and equal rights of all men, in defiance of his own declaration that his Kingdom was not of this world.”

    “The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html

    Query: What would happen if a religious sect declared General John Stark a prophet and declared holy war against the Bush administration?

  11. jonolan:

    You say “atheists” like it’s a crime to be one? Why so harsh?

  12. “I see nothing wrong with it but this is not the America we grew up in anymore.”
    ***********************

    Like dunder I too long for the good old days. Growing up in “progressive” rural Virginia, I used to enjoy eating my lunch at the local cafeteria while watching the black patrons pick up their meals at the kitchen door near the dumpster. Friday nights, I would see grown men in white robes & hoods (after the high school football game, of course) gathering at the local discount furniture warehouse to rant against the incursion of what they called the “coloreds” being allowed to sit near them in the stadium. Funny, they voiced no opposition to the “coloreds” playing.

    I also found the race baiting and walkouts at my school very exciting when desegregation was finally implemented despite the opinion 10 years earlier (“with all deliberate speed” indeed) over the objection of Governor James Linsey Almond (with the approval of US Senator Harry Byrd) who had previously declared our right to “massive resistance.” They both later recanted when the prevailing winds of the law toppled their bigotry.

    My grandfather couldn’t get a conventional loan because of his ethnicity, and as the banker said “his poor English.” The store he built in 1932 still stands on the same spot and is a growing concern. I also enjoyed the fact that when I grew into manhood I had license to enter the “men’s club” of employment and order the female secretaries around when they weren’t too busy being harassed sexually or asked to wear more revealing clothing at work to impress the clients. I took great comfort from the fact that when I drank from the “white’s only” water fountain at work, I was sure I wasn’t exposing myself to coodies from other races. When I went to rural courthouses around the Commonwealth, I was proudly told by the Court bailiffs told how “modern” we had become because “negroes” didn’t have to sit in the balcony anymore, but could sit in the gallery like everybody else.

    Call me anti-nostalgic, but As Carole King truly sang, “these are the good old days.”

  13. Jonolan: What’s wrong with Freedom from Religion? Do have to be religious because I’m American? It seems that your ACLU vitriol is limited to conjecture. You really need to do a little research if your going to be taken seriously here. The ACLU has a long, well-known list of defending Christian Conservatives Religious Rights. What you wrote is out-right silly and grossly uninformed.

    Dunder: That’s precisely the point. What gives ANY religion more empowerment and standing than any citizen. Isn’t the DMV then obligated to become a litigation machine? What happens when GOD A is at Odds with GOD B. Do we have license plate wars ?? Bumper stickers are already a fine tool for personal graffiti and don’t generally provide cause for litigation. So what’s the purpose of this move?
    You don’t actually think that FL has any intention of cranking out – It’s Mecca Time! license plates do you ?

  14. I always thought a bunch of bumper stickers are a nice touch! I like: I won’t think in your church if you won’t pray in my school.

  15. I see nothing wrong with it but this is not the America we grew up in anymore. We now have littered our population with insane angry people who are one email away from starting lawsuits over anything they perceive they can get away with.

    Within days these one percenters will be insisting on satan plates, chicken worship plates, etc. all just to cause society more problems instead of being rational respective adults.

  16. I see nothing wrong with it as long as they agree to allow other plates for other religions and philosophies.

    Frankly, it be good revenue for the states’ DOT to have an open program for specialty plates.

    I think the secular left led by the ACLU (Atheists Civil Litigation Union) willfully misconstrue “freedom of religion” as “freedom from religion.”

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