There’s much gnashing of teeth among the secular set these days, as South Carolina prepares to offer automobile license plates that declare “I Believe.” Just in case other drivers don’t get it, the specialty plates will also feature a cross, just as Florida’s proposed and rejected plates would have. Is this a breach of the First Amendment, as a lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State claims? Or is it much ado about nothing? I can’t get worked up —;;;; beyond blogging about it, of course.
South Carolina, like many other states, already offers a standard “In God We Trust” plate. One could argue that this sort of thing violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, but one would be wasting one’s time. The same thing’s on American money, after all. Whether it actually does constitute a violation is no longer the point, and the phrase isn’t going away.
Which is a shame, because, the way I see, it “In God We Trust” is more offensive than “I Believe.” Think about it. The former assumes a collective shared trust in a supernatural entity. The latter only proclaims that the driver (or whoever registered the vehicle), holds a particular belief.
So go ahead, South Carolina. And Alabama. And whichever other states want to give their Christian drivers the satisfaction of knowing that every drop of gasoline they burn is helping spread the good news. I’d much rather be reminded that there are those who believe than be told that I do, too.