Update – separation of church and state

If the image of the cross appeared on every license plate that South Carolina produced, that would be unconstitutional.  Unwilling drivers would have religious symbols thrust at them by the state.  But if you don’t want an “I Believe” plate on your car, all you have to do is not ask for one.  Why should it be illegal for the state to sell me one?  In our society of free-market capitalism, consumer sovereignty says the buyer decidies what get produced and sold, not the government. 

This post is an update to my original article Separation of Church and State.  There is a lively discussion going on over at Americans United for the Separaton of Church and State about the South Carolina lisence plate issue.  Here’s a link. 

Let’s also keep this in perspective: Christians in China would probably find the heated debate over this issue laughable.  Any underground church, hiding from their government in order to meet, has bigger issues to actually worry about.  We are so spoiled rotten by being blessed beyond measure in this country, we don’t know what persecution is.

UPDATE, AUG 12Denise Gibel-Molini has written one of the best articles on separation of church and state I’ve read in a long time (yes, including mine).  It’s about the War in Iraq, and is a little long, but is very well researched and I believe historically accurate.

8 thoughts on “Update – separation of church and state

  1. The reason that it is a problem is that a government office using taxpayer dollars is putting these out. If license plates were put out by a private company it would be no problem. If you have a serious need to do this why not just get a front plate that says the same thing.

  2. First off, I have a frontplate on my car that says “Jesus is Lord.” Secondly, the tax payer dollars used to produce my license plate is my own. Each person pays for their plate when they get one, and each year pay ad valorum tax in the office to renew. It sounds like a minor detail, but the accusation above is wrong; the state is not using YOUR tax dollars to make MY license plate.

  3. The “tax” used to pay for license plates would probably be more correctly called a user fee. Those who don’t drive, or at least don’t own automobiles, don’t pay it. As previously noted, those who would have these tags on their cars would actually have to pay extra for them than if they had regular tags.

    For the record, I do have a bit of a problem with these tags. But, my problem has more to do with Christian discipleship than public policy. As the InternetMonk has said in one of his recent posts, and I’m paraphrasing here, American Evangelicals seem to equate discipleship with how much stuff they can buy. If I have more hats, shirts, armbands, bumper stickers, posters, etc. that say “God is Love” “Jesus Saves” “Read the Bible” and so forth than you do, then I must be a better Christian than you are. Instead of spending the extra money on one of these tags perhaps one could give it to a missionary, his/her church, a homeless shelter, a Christian boarding school in southeastern Kentucky, etc. But as I say that’s an internal debate for Evangelicals to have, as a matter of constitutionality I have no problem with this.

  4. It makes little sense to analogize the government to a business and official license plates (which are legally required for any car driven on the road) to consumer products. The point is that government has no business promoting religion. By stamping a religious symbol on an official license plate, the government is doing just that. It doesn’t matter that the government allows individuals to choose, one by one, how many of the government’s license plates promote religion and how many do not. The government has no business issuing ANY such promotional plates. If individuals want to promote their religion, they are free to do so. They should not enlist the government to weigh in on their behalf.

    Apart from that, if any such plates are allowed, a question of equality arises. Why should the government stamp its plates with the symbol of only one religion, thereby giving its citizens only the choice of supporting the promotion of that religion or remaining silent. What about all the other religions various individuals might want to promote? If the state gives members of one religion this choice, shouldn’t it afford the same choice to members of other religions?

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  6. I can’t believe that no one in the state of SC has the foresight to realize this is just going to a) get the state sued (as it should) and b) be found unconstitutional (which it is, unless they give the option to every religion in SC.)

    So when SC is producing Satanic, WIccan and Hindu plates, I’ll support them.

    Government and religion: like mixing crap and ice cream. Doesn’t do a thing to the crap. Sure messes up the ice cream.

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