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LAST summer, when I reported that South Carolina was to become the first American state to approve crass “I Believe” license plates with an image of a cross and a stained glass window, I dived in Photoshop and dummied up a plate I thought non-believers might want to put on their vehicles to show their opposition to this dimwitted idea.i_believe_sc2-300x150
Today I learn from the Telegraph that a US judge has scuppered the South Carolina initiative, and has ordered the state not to issue the “piety” plates.
District judge Cameron Currie ruled that the plates were unconstitutional because they violated the First Amendment. She declared:

Such a law amounts to a state endorsement not only of religion in general, but of a specific sect in particular.

Her ruling also singled out Lt Gov Andre Bauer – who had pushed the bill approving the license plates through the state legislature – for criticism.

Lt Gov Andre Bauer

The judge wrote that Bauer wanted to accomplish in South Carolina what had been unsuccessful in Florida in order to:

Gain legislative approval of a specialty plate promoting the majority religion: Christianity. Whether motivated by sincerely-held Christian beliefs or an effort to purchase political capital with religious coin, the result is the same. The statute is clearly unconstitutional and defence of its implementation has embroiled the state in unnecessary (and expensive) litigation.

Bauer was not immediately available for comment.
The case was brought by the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, on behalf of several individuals and Hindu and American-Arab groups.
Rev Barry W Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United, said government must never be allowed give favourable treatment to one faith over others.

That’s unconstitutional and un-American. Some officials seem to want to use religion as a political football.

Hat Tip: BarrieJohn