The “I believe” license plate was not approved in the State of Florida, but representatives in South Carolina have approved a similar plate for their state, also depicting a cross. The Lieutenant Governor is even willing to put up $4,000 of his own money in order to begin production. This raises new arguments about separation of church and state, which I believe most people do not clearly understand correctly.
The U.S. Constitution says that the government shall pass no law regarding the establishment of a religion; a statement also known as the establishment clause. The words “separation of church and state” or even just the word “separation” never appears. Many of the original colonies were founded on principles of religious freedom and/or tolerance. The framers of the Constitution did not want a government sanctioned religion. The establishment clause is simply meant to prevent the U.S. Government from creating a state religion, one imposed by the government on its citizens. Separation of church and state has come to mean something totally different. So much so that I believe in many cases our First Amendment rights of free speech and religious expression are violated.
Allowing students in school a time to pray is not the same as the school system requiring prayer. The monument placed in the Alabama Supreme Court building recognized one of the oldest written law codes in ancient history, but it did not impose Christianity or Judaism on the people of Alabama. Even people in government have a right to express their religious views withous forcing everyone listening to them to believe the same way. Since when does “freedom of religion” equate “freedom from religion.” If a person chooses to not believe, that is their God given and U.S. government protected right to do so. By the same token, however, no one has the right to tell others they cannot profess their faith; to do so violates the believers First Amendment rights. It seems today we swap the misguided “separation” clause for our legitimate First Amendment rights.
Will the S.C. plate be struck down as well? Was Florida right or wrong to try to create their religious plate? Do you agree/ disagree with my assessment of the establishment clause? Let me hear from you.