Monday, November 24, 2008
In God We Trust - Just another old license plate
In January of 2007, the State of Indiana began offering license plates bearing the pithy religious slogan, "In God We Trust."
They should have been sued for false advertising. Neither the State of Indiana, nor any state in our beloved Union trusts in God. The states may "trust" in a lot of things, like cutting taxes for the rich, higher sales taxes which gouge the poor, Republican legislators, legislation prohibiting same sex marriage, political bullshit, letting the infrastructure go to ruin, shutting down Medicaid programs, teaching creationism in public school science classes, etc., but they sure as hell don't trust in God.
You'll also note that the plates don't explain which god it is that the State of Indiana trusts. It would be hard pressed to find two people who believed in the same god, even in the same church or the same state legislature. Most of them couldn't even offer a sensible description of their god.
None of that is the problem for the State of Indiana, however. The problem that arose in Indiana was that people who opted for the "In God We Trust" license plate did not have to pay the specialty plate fee of $15.00. [One other plate, which reads "Lincoln's Boyhood Home" is also exempted from this fee.]
And that's the reason the ACLU of Indiana sued, charging that people who chose the "In God We Trust" plate received special treatment.
The court decided against the ACLU. The decision was appealed. The appeals court stuck with the original decision, saying that these plates were nothing special, merely alternatives to the standard license plate.
In other words, "In God We Trust" is essentially a meaningless slogan and if you want your car license plates to bear those words, you shouldn't have to pay extra. It's really no different than the standard plates, said the appeals court. Or you can get a plate that says "Lincoln's Boyhood Home." Again, there's no difference between that and the standard plate or the "In God We Trust" plate.
Personally, I think no state should nod to god on their license plates for the simple fact that the Constitution of the United States forbids such nods to no god.
But it's nice to know that if christianists in state legislatures offer that option, it really doesn't mean anything. It's just a slogan, like "Kilroy Was Here," or "Lincoln Slept Here."