Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ye Gods! BE GOD'S License Plate Banned in Indiana

In Indiana, it seems that you can have a license plate that says "In God We Trust," you just can't own a personalized license plate that says BE GODS.

In a story in today's Indianapolis Star, Liz Ferris of Richmond is suing the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) because they won't let her get a personalized license plate BE GODS, even though it's one she's had since the late 1990s.

Keep in mind, this is the very same BMV that was recently embroiled in a legal controversy over the In God We Trust plates.The Indiana Court of Appeals recently upheld the plate's constitutionality, which means it's perfectly okay for the state government to issue license plates that espouse a single religious view.

This is the very same BMV that has issued 2 million of the In God We Trust plates.

This is the very same BMV that has a rule that forbids any reference to religion or a deity.

"If you permit one," Dennis Rosebrough, BMV spokesman, said, "you have to permit all. We believe the better judgment is to not have any references to deity." (Full disclosure: I used to be a spokesman for the Indiana State Department of Health, and have met Dennis a few times. He's a nice guy, so don't hassle him for this.)

Ferris says her "Be God's" message is an infringement on her First Amendment rights -- the part that says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... -- so she is suing the BMV with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Arizona.

According to Ferris' suit, nearly 1 in 3 cars on Indiana's roads bear's the In God We Trust plate.

While I'm generally ambivalent about expressions of religion and politics
(I have my own views, and other people can have theirs), I support Ferris' suit and her desires to wear her views on her car. We don't stop people from having tattoos on their face, why stop someone from having a piece of plastic on their car?


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2 comments:

  1. It wouldn't be Indiana if you weren't talking about license plates and the BMV. Always a favorite topic!!

    (BTW, I just stumbled across your blog and was glad to get a little piece of home . I grew up in Indiana and live in Iowa now).

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  2. It looks like the BMV gave in. Commissioner Ron Stiver overturned the ban on the BE GOD'S plate, as well as three others. Smart decision, because it leaves the original rule in place.

    Thanks for checking me out. I've been to Iowa -- mostly Des Moines -- several times. It's a nice state.

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