Aggregating Skeptical Thought

In God Indiana Trusts (even those who don’t)

The ACLU in Indiana is filing a suit against the State of Indiana on behalf of Mark Studler for offering an alternative standard or specialty license plate and yet does not charge extra for this plate. The new “standard” plates have the phrase “In God We Trust”. Read more here (FoxNews, The News-Sentinel, LA Times

There have been many reports that I have heard personally and have been written about in other places (internet infidels) of people only being offered the new license plate. If you have been a victim do not hesitate to email the Indiana ACLU at

Here are the pertinent points from the Mark Studler v. Indiana BMV lawsuit.

Indiana has a standard license plate and has historically only had one standard license. The “In God We Trust” (IGWT) plate is the first “‘no-fee’ specialty plate” to be offered by the State of Indiana.

The primary basis for their lawsuit lies in the fact that (Section 23 of the filed lawsuit)

“those who obtain an “In God We Trust” license plate are afforded the opportunity to make an affirmative statement through display of the plate without any additional cost while Mr. Studler must pay additional fees for his environmental license plate.”

Here’s one more salient point that must be made and unfortunately the ACLU lawsuit doesn’t cover this. According to The Tribune-Star, out of Terre Haute, the state is absorbing $3.69 to produce each of these plates out of the state’s Highway Fund. This is a cost that the state does not currently absorb for any other specialty plates. In fact, Indiana charges a $15 administrative fee to cover the cost of producing any specialty plate. Let me put it more simply, Indiana charges you for a specialty plate because of the additional cost associated yet does not charge the same fee for a clearly Christian-inspired plate. If it looks and smells like a government subsidy…

The Courier Press out of Evansville, Indiana interviewed the state representative that sponsored the bill, Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood),

“I’m a faith-based person, anyways, and there had been so much attack on religion throughout this country,” Burton said.

Burton said the plate shouldn’t raise any “separation of church and state” issues, because its sentiment is very general and does not promote any particular faith.

“We’re not specifying any religion,” said Burton, who attends the nondenominational Greenwood Christian Church.

Umm… I hope Woody is sitting down for this mind blowing statement but you are specifying religion in general (although which religion is very thinly veiled). There is a percentage of your state that not only does not believe in your God (or wish to express that sentiment in a clearly Christian manner) but there is a smaller percentage that do not accept the existence of any god (let’s be honest it’s a very small percentage in Indiana).

I understand that that phrase is on our currency (or sometimes not) and is even our national motto. But let’s be clear about where that motto came from. It is an enacted piece of legislation from 1956 just 2 years after “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. It has a very clear Christian pedigree and only an apologist would attempt to claim “we’re not specifying any religion” this is both intellectually dishonest and insulting.


Filed under: Politics, Religion

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