Here they go again
I've said many times that people should be allowed to practice whatever sort of religion makes them happy and fulfilled. Worship Jesus? Great. The Prophet Muhammad? Good for you. Create a cult around William Shatner? Why not? But when religious entities want to shove their beliefs in my face or, worse, get the government to help them in that effort, I'm inclined to resist. Such is the case in Florida, where some Christians are pressing the Legislature to approve a specialty license plate that includes a Christian cross, a stained-glass window and the words "I Believe." The plates would require a $25 annual fee, with the proceeds going to a nonprofit group called Faith in Teaching Inc., which supports "faith-based" school activities. It seems obvious that this is a violation of the separation of church and state, in that the state of Florida would seem to be endorsing a particular religion. One of the legislative supporters of the plate, Republican Sen. Ronda Storms, said the state, by offering a variety of specialty license plates, had created a "public forum," and that blocking access to that forum is also unconstitutional. I find it hard to equate a license plate touting a religious belief system with one reading, "Save the Manatee," but that's just me. According to the Associated Press, the plate appears unlikely to win approval during the current legislative session, and its backers, of course, are threatening legal action. I have a couple of options for the "believers" that don't involve relying on the government to help promote their religion or deliver their "message" to schoolchildren. If you want to say "Look at me! I love Jesus!" you could buy a couple of bumper stickers for your car. I've seen ones that say "Jesus is My Co-Pilot" or "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter." Catchy. Heck, buy hundreds of them and cover your car. Buy a cross for use as a hood ornament. Put stained glass in your taillights. Or, come back to the Legislature next year with a proposal for not only your "I Believe" license plate, but license plates touting Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism, Taoism, Wicca, Baha'i and many more. And, just to be fair, how about a license plate for the atheists saying, "The Bible is a Fairy Tale"? I'm guessing that's a longshot.