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New license plate for Texas: ‘One State Under God’

By Lynn Herrmann     Dec 9, 2011 in Politics
Austin - The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has approved a new license plate for the state’s drivers with the slogan, “One State Under God” which has renewed controversy over specialty plates, but supporters say the new plate will fund youth ministry.
The DMV’s governing board, by a 4-3 vote on Thursday, approved an application by an East Texas ministry, and supporters claim the vote represents a religious freedom-free speech victory. “Private speech, protected by the First Amendment, should not be subjected to second-class treatment,” said Jonathan Saenz, a lawyer and the Liberty Institute’s director of legislative affairs, the Austin American Statesman reports.
“Anyone who opposed this plate either doesn't know the law or has no respect for the First Amendment,” Saenz added.
In a news release, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) called the new Christian-themed license plate “disrespectful of Christianity and the religious freedom of people of all faiths.”
“It’s become pretty clear that our governor is dismissive of religious beliefs other than his own, and now his governmental appointees have voted to send a message that Texas is unwelcoming to the religious faiths of some of its citizens,” said TFN President Kathy Miller, in a statement. “The truth is that giving government the power to play favorites with faith ultimately diminishes religious freedom for everyone.”
Also opposed to the new government-approved plate design - which includes the “One State Under God” slogan and three crosses on a hill - are members of the Christian community. Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin and TFN board member said, “I’m disappointed to see the state endorse a particular faith, even if it’s mine, and to see Christians trivialize our faith into slogans and symbols on the back of a bumper,” according to TFN.
Perry, dealing with a struggling presidential bid, released a new TV spot this week in Iowa targeting the state’s Religious Right, and in the ad he is critical of gays in the military while children are not allowed to celebrate Christmas.
The state agency board, appointed by Governor Rick Perry, came under fire in November when it turned down a request for a new license plate displaying the Confederate battle flag. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage group of the Civil War, had requested the plate. On Thursday, the group announced it had filed a lawsuit in federal court in Austin to overturn the agency’s denial. A hearing date is yet to be announced.
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