Thursday, April 17, 2008

God on a Plate

Indiana, being the forward-thinking state it is, recently paid homage to the 1980 movie Oh God, Book II, in which a little girl creates the slogan “Think God” and then enlists her friends to spread the saying via graffiti, posters, and stickers. Indiana did the same thing by putting the slogan “In God We Trust” on a license plate.

Religious folk across Indiana rejoiced as the BMV distributed some 1.6 million IGWT plates without any additional cost to a single recipient. And salvation was ours! Until…

In stepped the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (a/k/a “the constitutional buzzkill”). I can't even fathom the tonnage of hate mail Ken Falk must get in a day, but NOBODY can say that guy doesn't have cajones of steel. Anyway, the ICLU filed suit, alleging that the plates constituted a government endorsement of religion. After all, every other plate with a supportive “message,” be it for the environment, the arts, veterans, the Colts, or for Indiana colleges, requires an additional administrative fee of $15.00 plus a $25 (tax deductible) charitable contribution.

But just when all hope seemed lost, in stepped Marion Superior Court Judge Gary Miller, a man whose own Republican Party bounced him from office at the Republican Party’s Slating Convention. Pulling what I call “a Bradford maneuver,” Miller, undoubtedly looking ahead to some other political office, threw out the ICLU’s complaint, noting that no government funds were spent to create the IGWT plates.

(A "Bradford manuever" is when a judge issues a ruling that he knows is blatantly unconstitutional, BUT he doesn't care because the political rewards far exceed the consequences of being reversed by a higher court. Former Marion County Chief Judge Cale Bradford did this when he prohibited "a wiccan" from having parenting time in a divorce case. The decision was, of course, overturned. BUT....presto! A few months later, Governor Daniels puts him on the Court of Appeals!)

But I digress.

RAH RAH, Gary Miller! We’re saved again! (No, not in the “accept Jesus as my personal savior” sense. Just in the “We get what we want” sense).

Not so fast. The ink won’t be dry on this decision before the Indiana Court of Appeals reverses it. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t cost the state MORE to make the “In God We Trust” plate unless EVERY “message plate” is given out for free. Otherwise, you’re giving special treatment or “endorsing” the IGWT.

Personally, I fail to see how having “In God We Trust” on the back of a few million cars and pickups is going to cause the Indiana Constitution to crumble. (Insert your slippery slope theory here in your mental response). But it takes too sides to create a massive waste of public resources (time, money, and distraction from REAL issues), and the proponents of this plate were certainly willing to get this ball rolling in the first place.

Let’s be honest. The proponents of this plate could have announced a statewide campaign to promote the message “In God We Trust” and EASILY sold THREE million bumper stickers for $2 each. But they don’t want JUST the message. They want the symbolic victory. Proponents of this plate want to be able to say, “Looky here! People of faith have taken the reins of government away from all the baby-killing, homosexual atheists, and we’re giving you GOD…for FREE!” But this intentional interjection of God through a government agency is precisely why the plate is unconstitutional.

Also, in giving the plate away for free, the proponents actually cheapen God. Seriously, folks, Jesus died for your sins. You can’t pay $37 ($15 admin fee + $25 donation to the church of your choice) to say you trust God? Anyway, as long as the money goes for a religious purpose, I’m sure you can credit your plate cost toward your tithing. Right, Reverend? No??? Interesting.


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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

$25 bucks to a church is a problem, but millions in special interest money to political candidates is OK. I'd be behind the 'xyz'-CLU 100% if they'd battle THAT dragon.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get the plate that says "In Allah we Trust"???

Anonymous said...

Not to nitpick but the legal theory behind the suit is NOT religious preference but privileges and immunity. By charging for other speciality plates except for this one, the State is granting a privilege that is not linked to to the classification. The harm is also financial as speciality plates cost more and the State actually loses $$$ on the plate that the rest of us have to makeup.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get the plate that says "In Allah we Trust"???

Please speak with Representative Carson because I'm sure that a national Jihad license plate is on his ear marks list

Anonymous said...

Anin 7:24 Your religious bigotry betrays you...Every third grader knows that license plates are a state issue.......

iPOPA said...

Anon 7:24:

You are AWESOME because you illustrate exactly what I'm talking about. You are clearly suggesting there is something wrong with having In Allah We Trust, which means the State IS making a religious statement by offering only one option. In my opinion, the state should make as many religious plates as they can profit from. We should ALL be able to show our faith, whatever that may be, provided we are offered equal opportunity to do it (or that it costs all equally TO do it).

Anonymous said...

An unintended consequence of the IGWT plates is the crowding out of specialty plates that raise significant money for nonprofit groups. This is a DOUBLE loss, because, as it has been pointed out earlier, the state also is losing its share of revenue from the sale of specialty plates from nonprofit groups.

Jawn

Anonymous said...

IPOPA I think you understood my point...if people want to express their religious beliefs on their license plates, that is ok. I object to the state only doing it for the state's preferred religions and then taking a loss on the manufacture of the plate. Anon 7:24 bigoted answer I think proved my point.

Anonymous said...

Why do "christians" think they need to publicly proclaim their chrisitanity and make us all participate and pay for it? Is it because they do not lead christian lives? The last time someone from my family went to the license branch she was pushed to take a god plate. Luckily she was reared to think for herself and told them no. Several times.

Anonymous said...

IPOPA, thanks for the "Awesome" label. I dig the appreciation from a fellow deep thinker. I'm actually a Deist with Agnostic leanings and yet you attempt to paint me with the "Christian" label. I just like the color scheme of the plate. Rep Carson can submit a bill in the House for a national Jihad plate. It would be one of the more productive things that he could accomplish for the 7th and Uncle Louis would be so proud.

I do not see a need for any State issued license plates. Why pay the State to subsidize our right to drive, smoke dope or procreate.

Obama for Change in 08

varangianguard said...

Guess this one will bother you, too.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,352398,00.html