The governing board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has approved a license plate with three crosses and the words “One State Under God.”
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Religious Right forces rallied for the new sectarian tags, which were sought by the Glory Gang Ministry, a Nacogdoches-based outreach program for troubled youth.
Jonathan Saenz of the Liberty Institute, who testified for the plate, said, “Private speech, protected by the First Amendment, should not be subjected to second-class treatment. Anyone who opposed this plate either doesn’t know the law or has no respect for the First Amendment.”
Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn strongly disagreed with Saenz’s assessment.
“No state ought to be involved in the promotion of religion on an officially produced government license plate,” Lynn told the Texas Independent. “If people want to make a statement about their Christian faith, that’s what bumper stickers are for.”
The Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, a Texas Freedom Network board member and pastor of the University Baptist Church in Austin, also expressed concern about the state picking and choosing among religious traditions.
“The truth is that giving government the power to play favorites with faith ultimately diminishes religious freedom for everyone,” Bethune said in a statement.
In addition to being a religious freedom issue, the pastor said the plate is actually degrading to Christianity.
“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,” Bethune said.