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License Plate Gallery

Licence to Proselytize

Note: This piece was originally written in 2011. Unfortunately, these points are still timely and extremely relevant today.

Theocratic Indiana licence plate

I may not live in Indiana, but I have family scattered in several counties there and it sometimes feels like a home away from home. And to anyone who shares the sentiment illustrated above: It is incredibly insulting to be specifically excluded from the government-endorsed definition of who encompasses your state.

License plates emblazoned with the words "In God We Trust" have been available in the Hoosier State since 2006. The legislation for these was spearheaded by Phillip Hinkle, a solidly theocratic, anti-gay hypocrite from Indianapolis who received infamy five years later for soliciting a gay prostitute online.

Even though the "God" plate looks like a specialty plate, it's not a specialty plate. No extra fee for the "God" design is charged...even though it's a multicolor design that costs more to produce and stock than the stark one-color "standard" issue. It very well might be the standard issue: In some communities the "God" plates appear on literally every other car on the road, and complaints of small-town BMV employees presenting the plates as a default option or coercing customers to receive them abound.

The plates are illegible, and are almost as useless as a faded Wisconsin Sesquicentennial for identifying letters and numbers at a distance. The state has no practical or financial interest of any sort to be gained in offering the plates. Its only interest is in using a governmental license as a medium for proclaiming an official endorsement of religion, and making this proclamation appear on as many vehicles as possible. It's nothing more than a weapon to rub in the face of nonbelievers: "You don't trust our god? You can't live here, and the Indiana BMV says so!"

And what's amusing yet tragic is how the defenders of "God" plates so often dance around the obvious and distort basic facts when offering their justifications and points of appeal:

In 2007, the Automobile License Plate Collectors' Association narrowly avoided having a similarly-spirited (and extremely ugly) Tennessee plate selected for its annual "Best Plate" contest. These were actual comments from the membership:

Of course, the people who wear these plates are probably so caught up exercising Christian privilege that they don't realize it exists. They don't realize that the arguments they make against official secularism would put themselves in the crosshairs if the phase were just slightly turned. If a theocracy in which they were subjects emblazoned "In Zeus We Trust" or "In Allah We Trust" on its official government-issued licenses, would these people be eager to snap them up and embrace the sentiment for displaying to the world on their cars?

They wouldn't.

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Last update 2 May 2022.