Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Has "In God We Trust" Become Indiana's Official License Plate


A little more than a week ago, Taking Down Words asked the question whether the "In God We Trust" license plate has become Indiana's official license plate based on reports by persons who visited local BMV branches that they had been issued the "In God We Trust" plate in place of the regular Indiana license plate without requesting it. Today, a friend of mine went to the BMV branch on Virginia Avenue and was asked by an employee whether he preferred he wanted the "green plate" or the "blue plate". The green plate meant Indiana's regular license plate, while the blue plate meant the "In God We Trust" plate.
By law, the BMV is required to issue you the regular Indiana license plate unless you reqest one of the special license plates from which there are several dozen to choose. The special license plates typically are accompanied by an additional fee, which is used to benefit a particular cause. The "In God We Trust" plate costs no more than the regular license plate because it benefits no specific group. Or does it? If the BMV is issuing the license plate as a regular license plate, it seems to me the state is stepping over the line to endorse a specific religion. The license plate was the brainchild of Eric Miller's Advance America, and the legislation authorizing it was authored by Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood). It is clear BMV employees are being directed to issue the "In God We Trust" plate over the regular license plate. Would they do the same for a license plate which read "In Allah We Trust"?
Personally, I think the state has gone completely overboard with all of these special license plates. How is anyone supposed to know whether your automobile is plated with an Indiana license plate when there are so many different types of plates? This makes identification of vehicles used in the commission of a crime particularly difficult if a witness is unable to identify whether it's an Indiana-issued license plate, let alone the identifying numbers and letters on it.

23 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

"Allahu Akbar" (God is Great!) probably wouldn't play too well in Elwood or Pittsboro...

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered how last years' prayer-in-the-State House controversy would have played out if rather than a Protestant minister attempting to lead our legislators in "Take a Little Walk with Jesus," a local iman had tried to get all to join in the chorus of "Take a Little Walk with Muhammad."

Anonymous said...

Nice stereotyping and prejudice there Wilson.

Wilson46201 said...

Nice covering up for the theocrats and bigots, anonymous nobody at 5:27pm - let's cut out the constant attacks on other commenters and stick to the topic - mmmkay?

Anonymous said...

The plate has more to do with being patriotic than being religious. It’s rather obvious that some like the plate.
Wilson you are as much a bigot as the next guy slammin Elwood Pittsboro or any other town is snobbish at best.

Anonymous said...

Wilson a snob. That's rich. Have you ever seen him?

If this isn't blatant state-sponsorship of religion, I don't know what is. If I were going to hang around Indiana for a long time, I'd find a good lawyer and sue.

If it could rise to the level of a federal lawsuit, I could pray to get Judge David Hamilton, a true patriot, and a courageous one, too.

By the by, whilst the Eric Miller ideologues were bashing us during the SJR7 debate, they overtly condemned Judge Hamilton's correct prayer ruling. Sitting quietly in the gallery was Rev. Dr. Richard Hamilton, David's retired Methodist minister father. Beaming.

Unlike Eric's God, mine works in truly mysterious ways. And not via license plates.

Anonymous said...

In Columbus, my partner went in to just renew his registration.. and the BMV clerk said "Do you want the new "In God We Trust Plate?", and my partner said, "No". The clerk followed it up with a shocked and loud.. "You don't want the new "In God We Trust Plate".

Talk about pushing it and selling it. My guess is they were giving an incentive/award for who pushes the most. Why else would they try to push a new plate on you when all you really need is the renewal sticker to put on your old plate?!

Anne said...

Just for the record, Indiana is way behind in the amount of specialty plates. Some states offer hundreds - one for every Nascar driver in North Carolina.

If you have an objection to "In God We Trust" I will take your money off your hands as well, since it has the same words on it.

Anonymous said...

Those plates are most popular with the dark side of society.

Drug dealers put them on their rides and I've seen several prostutites hop out of cars with these plates on them.

I think I'll get one of those plates and put a darwin fish next to it. I'll also put a smiley face over the O in god and a rainbow on the trust.


Lets be creative and remember, when the world gives you terror, make Tiramisu

Anonymous said...

"Personally, I think the state has gone completely overboard with all of these special license plates. How is anyone supposed to know whether your automobile is plated with an Indiana license plate when there are so many different types of plates?"

The plate still says "Indiana." As far as going overboard, maybe. I personally like the different plates. We actually are able to help various groups using the plates. A while back, the BMV was going to cut a lot of the university plates. Basically, if your school couldn't sell 10,000 plates, you would not get a logo. They were going to put the school name on the regular plate, so they could just run say a few thousand at a time and switch up the names. Well, that ticked off a lot of the smaller schools. They wanted their logo just like Purdue and IU. Considering they still have logo plates, I guess this issue is dead.

Anonymous said...

"If this isn't blatant state-sponsorship of religion, I don't know what is. If I were going to hang around Indiana for a long time, I'd find a good lawyer and sue."

I take it you are also leaving the country? Or are you planning on suing the US government for putting the same words on our money?

Anonymous said...

I'm offended by all the IU plates, hmmm...maybe I should sue. Sue everybody!

"Old Willy was right 'Let's kill all the lawyers." The Eagles

Anonymous said...

At the Shell gas station on Kentucky Avenue they post pictures of people who pump gas and drive off without paying for it. Taken with their surveillance cameras. Noticed one with the guy and his license plate in full view. Yep check it out it's a In God We Trust plate.

A while back I read a story about somebody from Indiana driving back across the border. When they got to customs, the line moved along pretty good, but their own car was searched rather extensively compared to the others. When they asked about why they got this treatment, customs people said "We've had trouble with people with Indiana plates" Maybe when law enforcement agents across the country realize that the In God We Trust plate is the preferred tag of the Indiana criminal element they will leave us law abiding Hoosiers alone.

Anonymous said...

As a law student, car enthusiast, and native of IN, I must say this license plate really pisses me off. Unfortunately, that alone doesn't amount to standing. If I could understand or remember my Constitutional law course last year, I probably would be inclined to think this program is unconstitutional. (note my excellent skills acquired in law school of never committing to a YES or No answer).

A similar program in VT/NH the "Live Free or Die" plate was recently declared unconstitutional. The key difference between this GOD plate, however, is there is the alternative "green plate" offered by the state. I actually thought the GOD plate was the default plate because of the volume. However, the fact that the ever-so-jubilant BMV folks simply hand out the plate, or refer to it as the “blue” plate, borders on endorsement (although everybody by now probably knows what the “blue” plate is in reference to). Furthermore this program is easily differentiated religious references of “In God We Trust” on courthouses, and on our currency, because of the hidden message portrayed by NOT using the plate. The former references cannot be avoided in the case of currency (everyone has to use $USD), or have been simply written off as historical architecture. In this case, because the plate is of no extra charge, its use necessarily implies you either are or are not a Christian (bible-thumping, Sunday morning, or some other variant). The message is as follows: if you are a Christian, you would get the plate since it's free. All others (say they chose a state school or the green plate because you like the little farm house) aren't true Christians. This would be my argument why this violates the religion clause and is state-sponsored endorsement of religion. Currency is different because everyone has to use it, even the pledge of allegiance isn’t a direct affirmation posted to you whenever you go for the world to see, additionally the reference to God isn’t a direct affirmation in your individual belief that God exists. As for me, I haven’t worked out all my theological beliefs even though I do consider myself a Christian, however I’d rather not make the world believe that I have.

Zack said...

"because the plate is of no extra charge, its use necessarily implies you either are or are not a Christian (bible-thumping, Sunday morning, or some other variant). "

I totally agree with you here. There are a lot of reasons I dislike these plates, but this is the argument that explains why they are unconstitutional. They basically are state sponsored bumper stickers, and they are serving as a marking device by which people can identify your belief, or lack of belief based on your plate.

Anonymous said...

My mother recently went to the BMV to renew her two Environment plates and one Support Our Troops plate and was asked if she wanted the Trust God plate. She asked why and was told that it was blue like the Environment plate and it was free. She declined the offer.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, the clerks don't get an incentive for selling any particular plate.

Yes, there should be a better way to ask what plate somebody wants. If you don't ask, you get in trouble. If you do ask you get in trouble.

If you don't want the plate, don't get it. If you want the other ones to be no extra charge, talk to those organizations.

Anonymous said...

Special plates that charge extra money are tools to raise funds for a specific organizations. Environmental trust funds, Arts trust funds, Alumni association funds are some of the organizations that collect the special fees...not the state. The state only gets the plate fee...the only thing they collect on ANY plate.

The new plates don't raise funds for any organization. The plate fee would normally be paid no matter what plate you get.

Anonymous said...

The God plates have become great tool for pointing out annoying religious zealots. Too bad people who don't know better get fooled in to getting the plates and end up looking like fools as well.

I take no interest in religion but none of my friends who attend church would even consider getting one of these plates because because they are seen as "wearing you religion on your sleeve", as in annoying other people with it.

Take the God plate for what it is: a political plate trying to pass itself of a religious plate to the not too bright who are trying to make yet another failed attempt to associate religion to patriotism.

It is apolitical plate because it was the brainchild of a legislator who was trying to make points with the religious right. Once again they were fished in with no trouble.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have just visited Indiana to see my family and had to research these plates I am seeing everywhere. After reading this stuff, I can only breathe a deep sigh of relief that I, like many of Indiana's other non-crazy natives, have moved to a less ridiculous state. Good riddance to the backward half-retards that populate the majority of that state! Feel free to make fools of yourselves as much as you like. I am outta here!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have just visited Indiana to see my family and had to research these plates I am seeing everywhere. After reading this stuff, I can only breathe a deep sigh of relief that I, like many of Indiana's other non-crazy natives, have moved to a less ridiculous state. Good riddance to the backward half-retards that populate the majority of that state! Feel free to make fools of yourselves as much as you like. I am outta here!

TIMMMAHHHH said...

One 'good" thing bout these plates is that it allows one to sort out the do gooders from the sane people. And since it is not state sponsored religion (supposedly) one should be able to modify the message portion as one sees fit. One sales venture I'd like to get into is selling blue rectangles with an L on it so one can change the message to In God We Lust - truth in advertising.

After living in Indiana 33 years glad I was able to escape to Illinois.

rcharding said...

All I can say is that, although I was born and raised in Indiana, living in other places for the past 16 years has given me a clearer view of my home state...it's a neo-theocratic nightmare.