“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:
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.