Georgia “In God We Trust” License Plate Stickers Now Free

“No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.” – Georgia State Constitution

Last year I addressed a local issue here in the state of Georgia regarding its license plates, which was labeled a “minor controversy.” To be brief, the state had asked the citizens to submit designs, then vote on the three most popular – of which one would be chose as the state’s official plate. The problem was that the three finalist plates had “In God We Trust” as part of the design, printed on the plate. After some push-back, which included a letter sent by me in my capacity as the Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., the state offered a sticker as an option, but to charge $1.00 for it. This was better, but still violated the Georgia Constitution.

A Republican To The Rescue…

Yes, you read that correctly. Republican State Senator Bill Heath stated that charging for the stickers would be,

“unconscionable” for the state to profit from what he considered an expression of faith and respect.

However, don’t be so quick to laud your admiration on him. Heath originally proposed the motto would be the default on any license plates manufactured after July 1, but he dropped that mandate in committee to gain passage for his bill.

I had pointed an excerpt from the Georgia State Constitution to the Georgia Supreme Court and to Governor Nathan Deal in both of the letters I sent that states,

“No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.”

While I find it exemplary that the state will no longer be charging for their godstickers, the fact remains that, even given for free, the cost to produce these stickers, including the cost of the labor for state employees to handle them, will inevitably come directly or indirectly from the public treasury. To date, the state has earned $339,186 from the sale of said stickers. No information about to cost to produce and handle these stickers has been made available, which is where the real problem lies. The state shouldn’t even be offering these stickers. If one wants a godsticker on their car, there are plenty of venues where one can be purchased, and near as I can tell, every car has a bumper.

Another problem is that the sticker would have to be placed over the county name decal that Georgia license plates usually sport. This is also discriminatory, because if I chose to purchase my own sticker and place it on my license plate, I would be in violation of the law that pertains to defacing, hiding or otherwise obstructing a license plate. So, it’s either God or nothing?

This issue is not over yet….

My first letter to the State and Governor outlined the problem with printing “In God We Trust” on the plates. My second letter addressed the sticker issue. My third letter will address the issue again. Here is an image of my second letter:

More Commentary…

My friends, there is a concerted push – particularly in bible-belt states – to abrogate the civil rights of non-Christians. We need to step up our efforts to match theirs. We are outnumbered, but we have the law on our side. We need to take advantage of that.

  22 comments for “Georgia “In God We Trust” License Plate Stickers Now Free

  1. Randomfactor
    March 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Is there a limit on how many stickers one can get? I’d suggest that each atheist in the state ask for a couple dozen, as a start. They ought to be useful for securing garbage bags…

    The legislators want to pay for it, let them PAY.

  2. busterggi
    March 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    You’re oppressing their right to persecute non-believers!

  3. timberwoof
    March 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Is there a regulation that states the sticker must be affixed in one piece? Can I cut up the letters and play Scrabble?

    Towering Stud
    Gowned I Strut
    Wronged Is Tut

    And more from your friendly neighborhood anagram solver.

    • pyrobryan
      March 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      lol, towering stud. I’d have to go with that one. Or “detritus gown”. If you drive an old beater “towed rusting”

      Urged to sin?

  4. March 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    “My friends, there is a concerted push – particularly in bible-belt states – to abrogate the civil rights of non-Christians. We need to step up our efforts to match theirs. We are outnumbered, but we have the law on our side. We need to take advantage of that.”
    It’s not just in the bible belt anymore, though, I would agree that it is most egregious there. I could not agree more Al. The more we speak up the better. The law is on our side. If we do not speak up, then these decisions will just be dictated to us. I for one, can’t let that happen and not say anything.

  5. Rachel
    March 2, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I totally agree that this is a waste of tax payer money to produce these stickers, but if they decided to produce ones for other religious views besides Christianity, but included something for the Atheists would it then pass muster? We all know they will never produce one that says “There is no God” or “In Darwin We Trust” or “In DNA We Trust” so it’s a hypothetical question but I still wonder.

  6. Anonymous Atheist
    March 2, 2012 at 2:58 am

    “… While I find it exemplary that the state will no longer be charging for their godstickers …”

    I’d certainly prefer they not offer these unconstitutional stickers at all, but while they are offering them, I think they should at least be charging people for them (hopefully at a price which at least breaks even, preferably a profit, on the costs of making them). When they charge for them, then it’s not much worse than the many states that offer religious license plate designs for an additional fee (along with college/sports logos, etc). When they’re free, then it’s worse than the states that have something religious (like that stupid motto) on a license plate design that is a no-extra-cost (but still costs the normal fee) standard option.

  7. Dave The Sandman
    March 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I have suggested this remedy before in relation to school boards who vote to promote creationism or fight for stupid banners, thus incurring serious court costs when the cases inevitably end up in court and equally inevitably are lost.

    If a legilsature vote for something that is so obviously and infringement of the 1st Ammendment separation issue, and that their decision then ends up n a court case that is lost and costs taxpayer dollars, the individuals who both proposed the action and those that voted to pass it should be directly sued for the costs under the legal rule of vicarious liability.

    I am damn sure that once that was done once or twice you would see an end to such cack. Hit the god botherers directly in THEIR wallets and see how many others follow suit.

    Your school boards and legislatures are happy to do this sort of stuff because they never have to foot the bill or face up to the fact they caused damage and cost the tax payer dollars to defend something obviously uncostitutional. Its like allowng me to smash up a shop with a baseball bat and then letting me walk away without paying for the damages. Insane….and thats why this crap keeps on happening.

    • Dave The Sandman
      March 2, 2012 at 7:25 am

      sorry for the double whammy….but as Georgia taxpayers, once the case is lost in court, couldnt a group of you get together and sue these idiots in some sort of class action, stating at the outset that you would donate all awards directly back to the state budget?

      Your legal system is so sodding complex compared to the British system.

  8. ConcernedJoe
    March 2, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Just what the fuck does “In God We Trust” mean anyway? If it does not have religious significance then what meaning does it have?

    Here is the rub – the legal justification has been “it is just a motto with no religious significance”. This was fortified in law in 1970 I believe and has been used as the precedent for rulings allowing blank-check use of the phrase by the State (Fed or individual governments) from that date.

    And why the fuck does this meaningless (by their own justification) statement rile up the separation of Church and State parties on both sides? Because OBVIOUSLY IT HAS RELIGIOUS MEANING!

    And why the fuck did this “non-religious motto” have its origins in mid-1800’s and further propagation in mid-1900’s under intense religious fervor periods in our Nation – and advocated by religious people? Because OBVIOUSLY IT HAS RELIGIOUS MEANING!

    And why the fuck do we want to display our collective naivete and lack of honesty so prominently to the World (it is on our money!) in this day and age? I said lack of honesty because who in this day and age really trusts god when the rubber meets the road? Majority of people ACT atheistic – they may pray – they may say god is good – they may say god helped me get through whatever – BUT they did all the secular things an atheist would do to solve any problem (e.g. medical situation). If they REALLY trusted their god they would just let “Buddha drive”!

    And if parents said – “we will just pray (trust in god) for our 3 year old who was just bitten by a rattler instead of getting available medical treatment” the State would probably step in if they were aware and positioned to do so. And if the child did not get treatment because of the parents we’d mostly all agree they are sadistic nuts who need to be prosecuted – at least taken out of positions of power over children. Wouldn’t we? Haven’t we?

    Bottom line: the statement IS religious obviously, it is NOT something we collectively really live by in any practical sense when things are tangibly serious, it IS palpably useless for a big percent of the population when forced to describe the application, it trivializes the real premise of our Nation – that being that any individual should have Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness mostly free from government and church negative intrusion.

    Our motto should be “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness for All” – and that is the motto that the Constitution and our Laws (though somewhat imperfectly) progressively supports. that is something we all can find useful and live by!

  9. Norman Lycan
    March 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    What none of you seem to understand is that the “Declaration of Independence” and the “Constitution” were all drafted on the eve of war. And most of the movers and shakers at the time were either Freemasons, or associated with them. They were refugees from religious persecution, seeking to practice their religion in peace. They were not atheists or agnostic preaching science as an answer. So to say that the constitution established division between church and state is spin. All it did was guarantee that there would never be a “state” religion, such as the church of england. Let the attorneys argue it, but until atheist actually admit they are a religion, which they are, they will have no protection under the law.

    NL

    • ConcernedJoe
      March 3, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Norman your willful ignorance, intellectual dishonesty, and/or superficiality regarding the formation of the Nation is astounding. And since I suspect it is willful I do not expect to change your opinion. However I will briefly state some things for the record regarding your comments.

      But then I want to ask you to seriously answer a few questions more on this thread’s topic.

      For the record:

      (1) most of us agree that the “Founding Fathers” for the most part had some degree of belief in a higher power of some sort. A few really were religious – a few politically religious – a few actually expressed personal disdain for aspects of religious doctrine. BUT ALL THAT DOES NOT MATTER!! OUR SECULAR CONSTITUTION AND IT’S OFFICIAL INTERPRETATION AS KNOWLEDGE AND ENLIGHTENMENT CONTINUE ARE THE HIGHER LAWS AND PRINCIPLES UNDER WHICH WE ABIDE AS THE SECULAR NATION WE ARE. WE ARE NOT A FORMAL THEOCRACY CONSTITUTIONALLY – NO SANE HONEST PERSON CAN READ THAT FROM THAT CONTRACT.

      (2) most legal scholars and more IMPORTANTLY THE HIGHER COURTS OF THE LAND E.G., THE SUPREME COURT (e.g, Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985)) agree that “atheism” is a religion BUT not in the sense of religion as you see. The CONSTITUTIONAL concept of religion is NOT organized belief system oriented per se but rather whatever position one takes in regard to a divinity. That notion is valid and necessary to protect ALL organized religion and the various beliefs INCLUDING an atheist’s position on the divinity. The point that most thinking jurists – even very religious ones – can see and agree on is that this definition is necessary to protect Judaism from Protestantism, etc. etc. They recognize that a Catholic may view a Buddhist as atheist for example. The way the COURTS have chosen to more fully protect any and all beliefs regarding higher powers is this very logical and fair one. Again read the LAW OF THE LAND.

      Now my questions:

      Explain to us what “In God We Trust” PRACTICALLY means to our social constructs and operations. Give rigorous examples. Hint: an example is NOT “pray for wisdom to help me make right decision” – that just trivializes the words. No you have to show us how in a formal fashion “In God We Trust” applies to our formal social systems.

      E.g. would we and should we expect and accept that a Judge says to the Court “I prayed and God told me he’s guilty – let’s save the cost of a trail and let’s just hang the man”? Would we accept a child dying needlessly because parents “trusted god” over available and effective medical treatments?

      Again you explain what it means and then give examples of that meaning in action. Do it rigorously for us. And by the way rigorous examples of SECULAR system in action are replete before us – so don’t turn question around on us. Tell us your vision of “In God We Trust” in action clearly.

      • Norman Lycan
        March 4, 2012 at 1:54 am

        It really doesn’t matter if you have a point or not. If you want to use the constitution as a weapon, it is limited to the fact that it prohibits a state religion. When I say atheism is a religion, which it is, from a legal standpoint, that is your only tool, it allows Silverman and friends to file lawsuit after lawsuit trying to do battle with the dragon. But, the idiocy of the whole debate is that the founding fathers, with the threat of war with England on the horizon, just wanted an agreement. They wanted to unify the colonies against England. Therefore, slavery remained legal. That did not work out well.

        Anyone who thinks the dreamers who invented America were some kind of gods need to suck my junk. Or that the constitution is some kind of holy scripture, wake up, and smell the coffee. Two hundred thousand men died just to end slavery. A hundred years later a black man could piss in the same urinal as a white man. But now we pretend we are the model for the western world. It would be sad if it weren’t so hilarious.

        NL

        • ConcernedJoe
          March 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

          Norman – I actually almost wrote you an apology earlier – an apology for me previous post’s tone. Sorry I did not send it.

          Actually I think the whole separation of church and state legal setting is a double edge sword that in net acts against rationality.

          Not because it gives religion freedom to “preach” and exist but because it stifles teaching critical analysis of religion in the public school and even university system. It renders the forums that we should use to teach critical analysis impotent when it comes to religion and divinity. Teachers 9even professors in public colleges) just cannot directly and efficiently challenge students to examine religious beliefs. They can teach methods and means .. but must rely on students to connect dots by themselves. Students naturally will mostly not – it neither seems important to do such in their minds and/or it is too dangerous socially in some circles.

          Having said that – and also that I agree with you that no people were, are, or ever will be infallible or the end all – and also that I do believe the Constitution is and must be living and breathing (that is evolving) – I standby my earlier statements (if not the tone) and suggest you are being to cynical or narrowing your view too much on the subject of Constitution.

          BTW do you agree with me that the motto “In God We Trust” is vacuous?

          Peace out.

    • AJS
      March 5, 2012 at 6:27 am

      If atheism is a religion, then health is a disease.

      • ConcernedJoe
        March 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

        You are missing the point and ignoring the legal aspects and precedent.

        I agree that “The Universal Church of Atheism” is like non-existent. And well it should be!

        But please carefully read what I wrote:

        most legal scholars and more IMPORTANTLY THE HIGHER COURTS OF THE LAND E.G., THE SUPREME COURT (e.g, Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985)) agree that “atheism” is a religion BUT not in the sense of religion as you see [in the common connotation]. The CONSTITUTIONAL concept of religion is NOT organized belief system oriented per se but rather whatever position one takes in regard to a divinity. That notion is valid and necessary to protect ALL organized religion and the various beliefs INCLUDING an atheist’s position on the divinity…

        An atheist’s position on the divinity requires protection as well as the Catholic’s! In this sense – a legal sense – “atheism” is a religion that enables 1st Amendment protection.

        Norman is wrong to say “atheism” is not protected by the 1st! Modern legal precedent does as in example I referenced.

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  11. Hummel 5
    April 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.”

    Is “In God We Trust” in connection with a specific church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution? If so which one?

    To me it’s just a phrase. I can see why religious people dislike Atheists. Most of them “I want to separate myself from the other atheists” tend to overreact on anything that has the name “god” or “God” in it. I bet no Atheist would complain if there was a phrase that said “In FSM We Trust” or “In Cthulhu We Trust” or any other name.

    • April 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Find someone who does not equate “In God We Trust” to any other God other than the Judeo-Christian one. I don’t want my tax dollars paying for anything that promotes ANY god, but if you think that “In God We Trust” is a generic term that is applied to the diety-du-jour, then you need to read a little more about the phrase, its origins and its includsion in all things American. I don’t give a flying fuck through a rolling donut if someone wants to plaster their entire car with religious bumper stickers. It’s their property. And yes, I would complain at a “In FSM We Trust,” as well. Government neutrality, Hummel. Look it up…

  12. Nelson
    April 12, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I had been planning to affix my own sticker which states, “In Science We Trust”. I did not know that it was a violation to do so. Perhaps it might still be a suitable protest.

  13. RoaminYellowJacket
    June 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Well, as you say, it is indeed God or Nothing…. isn’t that the point of nonbelief? Just my two cents, if they’re even worth that.

  14. July 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

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