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Opening Arguments

God be with you

You may now keep God with you on your car trips, which, considering the skill and attentiveness level of Indiana drivers, is probably a good thing:

Hoosier drivers don't have to pay extra to sport In God We Trust license plates, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel upheld the General Assembly's 2006 decision to exempt the newly created plate from the $15 administrative fee Indiana charges on most specialty plates.

The suit was brought by an Allen County resident who had to pay extra fees for his Environmental Trust specialty plate and contended that "In God We Trust" is a "private religious message" that should also be subject to extra fees. That seems like a tricky argument to make, since the message is our national motto and can be found on the money we carry around every day (well, good days). If you haven't been coerced out your Godless ways by now, the license plate probably won't pull you in, either. Another hair the ACLU couldn't split!


Tue, 11/18/2008 - 12:39pm

What was the compelling state interest being satisfied by slapping "God" on a license plate?

Not a huge practical impact, but it feels like an effort by monotheists to mark their territory. "Why get the state into the God business? Because we can."

Mostly, however, its impact is to make me think for a second or two when a bad driver has a God license plate something to the effect of "that wasn't very Christian of you."

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 1:03pm

God's proper place is in your heart, not on your ass. Alas, the desecration will continue.

tim zank
Tue, 11/18/2008 - 1:18pm

I hate to sound like a "big picture" kind of guy again, but why do you guys even give a sh&t about stuff like this. Really, in the big scope of things, who gives a s&it if your neighbor's license plate sez "In God We Trust."

Leo Morris
Tue, 11/18/2008 - 3:58pm

Most people who have God in their hearts, though, want to show it to the world; not many would prefer to preach in the closet rather than on the corner. That's why there are churches, yes?

The thing I care about is how much they bother me in the process. I don't mind taking a brochure and promising to read it later or even being accosted in an airport occasionally; I do NOT want somebody trying to convert me every time I walk by their desk at the office. Providing "In God We Trust" license plates actually seems pretty civilized to me; it lets people express their religious sentiments and does no harm to other people or society as a whole.

And whatever you or I or the ACLU might think about it, it's not a damn constitutional crisis. Trying to prove that this is a serious violation of the separation of church of state that will somehow lead us down the path of establishing an official state religion is just plain silly and a waste of time and money.

tim zank
Tue, 11/18/2008 - 7:31pm

You said that a lot better than I did. Nice job Leo.

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 7:33pm

I thought the argument here wasn't separation of church and state, but rather why should evangelicals get theirs free when the environmentalists, titty cancerists, yellow ribbonists, kids firstists, black expoists, alumnists, etc., all have to pay da man for a plate slightly less ugly than the standard-issue monstrosity.

Not an issue I'm terribly exercised about. After the state gets its cut, what's another forty bucks? And, Leo, I agree that I'd rather have them getting in my face with their license plates than with their bad manners, but they ought to pay for that right same as I do.

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 7:44pm

The Lincoln plates have really mellowed me out on this one. I got one, didn't have to pay extra, and I like it. Though, I do miss the days when this seemed more important because the world didn't seem quite as deeply fixed in the handbasket to hell.

Leo Morris
Tue, 11/18/2008 - 10:21pm

Like the guy who brought the suit, I have the environmental trust plate. I don't mind paying the extra money -- in fact that's why I get the plates, because there is a group that wants the money and I like how they spend it (to aquire more land for state parks). That's the way it is with most of the plates -- special interest groups letting those who agree with them support them with the plates.The "In God" plates are a little different -- just a way to let people express a commonly held view.

If the extra money were collected, to whom would it go that the ACLU would approve? Churches? A state-run faith-based initiative? The state's general fund? No matter how the issues are stated, these cases are always about separation of church and state.

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 11:14pm

Focus on the Family. That should be the recipient. They're the ones who lobbied for it (or so I've heard secondhand.)

Yes, let them obtain the money. I'm totally cool with it. Bet the takers would drop off to less than a quarter what they are now yet FoF would still come out ahead on its investment. As it is, their pecadilloe is getting subsidized by the taxpayer while we have to pay for the state's imprimatur to air our issues on our asses.

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 11:36pm

Oh, and everyone should be given equal time on license plates. Let's have a Fags Rule plate, a Holocaust Revisionists Suck plate, a vegan plate, etc., with proceeds going to all appropriate charities.

Wed, 11/19/2008 - 8:56am

Or, we could just have one boring plate that serves to identify one's vehicle.

tim zank
Wed, 11/19/2008 - 9:18am

Perhaps if "The One" gets wind of this, nationwide we can all have the same plates...with a picture of him and the halo, of course.