The ACLU is asking me to write my Florida legislators about a proposal to issue a license plate that proclaims the driver’s Christianity (photo at right). The organization sees this as a blatant assault on the Constitutional separation of Church and State. And before you start haranguing me about the United States being a Christian country and telling me how the Founding Fathers loved Jesus, prithee forbear. I am not about to get into that argument.
If you read my blogs, you know that I quote Jesus from time to time. I also quote Judaic wisdom. And that’s all I am going to say about my religious beliefs. I would only add that from my observation this is a Judaic-Christian society founded on precepts I have read in various versions of the Bible.
But I am told this is a society of laws, and the foundation of its laws is the Constitution. That document states quite unequivocally that the State must not get involved in the religious lives of its citizens. Does that mean citizens have the right to display images of Jesus on their cars? Of course. Does that mean the State of Florida should get involved in distributing such images? I don’t think so.
But that’s not my only complaint against the proposed license plates. I am saturated with propaganda – on TV and radio, in the newspapers, on billboards, even from the pulpit… And I think it’s repugnant to force your ideas and beliefs down my throat when I am stuck helplessly behind you in traffic. I don’t care that you’re a teacher, and I don’t think that childish stick figure is cute. I don’t care whether you’re “pro-life” or pro-death (to murderers, or deer and fish). I don’t care whether you would rather be driving a golf ball. I don’t care that your other car is a horse. I don’t care what your name is, and I don’t care whether you went to the University of Florida or St. Leo’s … or whether you go to Bucs football games. So enough with the message-laden license plates already!
Of course you have the First Amendment right to display your bad taste in public. One of the most treasured rights American citizens have is to make fools of themselves without let or hindrance. But, surely, not on their state-issued license plates.
One important purpose of putting license plates on cars is to identify them. If you are a hit-and-run victim, you might be able to provide tag details to the police, for example. And tags help crime witnesses describe getaway cars. So it makes a lot of sense to have tags that are uniform in color and appearance, without a lot of artwork camouflaging them. You should be able to tell at a glance whether a car is from Florida or New York state. You can’t do that if the tag is covered with pictures and propaganda – religious or otherwise.
As for the separation of Church and State issue, I’ll leave that to the ACLU and the courts to decide.