Monday, November 3, 2008
Posted by Tyler C
The state of South Carolina has begun to receive orders for new license plates approved by the state legislature. The plates are not exactly ones traditionally thought of when the words specialty plates are introduced, such as those supporting state schools. These new plates are what many believe to be a promotion of the Christian religion. This is because the words “I Believe” will be printed on the new license plates, along with a stained-glass window with a cross. Because the South Carolina Legislature proposed the tags, the legislature mandated that at least four hundred prepaid orders for the new specialty license plates have to be made before production will commence.
Those individuals and groups against the new specialty license plates argue that the state is inherently endorsing the Christian religion through the state sponsoring of these license plates. The group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a lawsuit on the behalf of two Christian pastors, a humanist pastor, a rabbi pastor, and the Hindu American Foundation. The group contests it would not be opposed to the license plates if a purely private organization had made the request and the standard procedures involved in such a private request would have been followed.
This news story is exceptionally important to the study of religion and American law because the American legal system and a particular religious establishment are clearly becoming enjoined through the state legislature. This article is a valid representation of the way in which the government at any level and religion should not produce entanglement between them. Even though the specialty license plates have yet to be produced, the state’s endorsement of the license plates is particularly unsettling to the scholarly wall of separation of church and state. If the argument of the founder’s intent is not convincing to cease the production of the specialty Christian license plates, then the Constitution is the answer to the prayers of constitutional textualists.
Because the state of South Carolina has admittedly aided in the production of the specialty license plates in the theme of Christianity, the state has therefore endorsed and respected a particular establishment of religion. I, like the group suing the state of South Carolina, would have no problem with the specialty Christian license plates if a private group had requested the production of the license plates. Here, the state government is overstepping the bounds of a government supposedly representative of everyone, not just the majority population of a state, or country.
at 12:28 AM