One of the stories making the rounds of various atheist blogs recently was about attempts in some southern states to pass legislation for new vanity plates for True Believers™. The plates would have the words “I BELIEVE” with a picture of a cross on a stained glass window. Needless to say, the imagery raises some church/state concerns. South Carolina is the first state to actually pass the legislation to make these plates possible and it’s already resulted in a lawsuit by the folks at Americans United:
COLUMBIA, South Carolina — A group that advocates separation of church and state filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to prevent South Carolina from becoming the first state to create “I Believe” license plates.
The group contends that South Carolina’s government is endorsing Christianity by allowing the plates, which would include a cross superimposed on a stained glass window.
You just know the conservative Christians are going to have a field day over this lawsuit claiming it’s us nasty atheists trying to push God out of the public square once again, but as it turns out there’s no atheists involved in the lawsuit:
Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Christian pastors, a humanist pastor and a rabbi in South Carolina, along with the Hindu American Foundation.
Not that that’ll stop them from claiming it’s anti-religious sentiment that’s prompting the lawsuit:
Republican House Speaker Bobby Harrell said residents asked for a way to express their beliefs, and legislators responded.
He disputed Lynn’s accusation that they were pandering to constituents in an election year.
“That’s what critics always say when they see something they don’t like,” Harrell said. “I think this has less to do with the First Amendment and more to do with their disdain for religion generally.”
An argument that’s obviously flawed due to the fact that religious leaders are the ones involved in the suit:
But a Methodist pastor who joined the lawsuit, the retired Rev. Thomas Summers of Columbia, said the plate provokes discrimination.
“I think this license plate really is divisive and creates the type of religious discord I’ve devoted my life to healing,” he said.
Another of the ministers, the Rev. Robert Knight of Charleston, said the plates cheapen the Christian message.
“As an evangelical Christian, I don’t think civil religion enhances the Christian religion. It compromises it,” Knight said. “That’s the fundamental irony. It’s very shallow from a Christian standpoint.”
Get ready to cue the gnashing of teeth and whines about us atheists at Wing Nut Daily in 5… 4… 3…