STATE APPROVAL OF CHRISTIAN-THEMED LICENSE PLATE DISRESPECTFUL OF CHRISTIANITY, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
DMV Board Vote Diminishes Religious Liberty in Texas
Thursday's approval by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board of a Christian-themed specialty license plate is disrespectful of Christianity and the religious freedom of people of all faiths, spokespersons for the state's leading religious liberties watchdog said today.
"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," Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. "The truth is that giving government the power to play favorites with faith ultimately diminishes religious freedom for everyone."
The DMV board approved the "Calvary Hill" specialty license plate design on a 4-3 vote. Proceeds from the government-approved design, which includes the words "One State Under God" and three crosses on a hill, will benefit a Christian youth outreach program. Christians themselves should be concerned by the board's approval of the license plate design, said the Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, a TFN board member and pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin.
"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.
The design's approval by board members appointed by Gov Perry is just the latest disappointment in a challenging year for supporters of religious liberty, Miller said. In August, for example, Gov. Perry hosted a Christians-only prayer event in Houston organized by an anti-gay hate group. The governor has also made appeals specifically to Christians a central strategy of his presidential campaign. Just yesterday, for example, a new Perry campaign ad cited the governor's Christian faith and charged that President Obama is engaged in a "war on religion" and that liberals are engaged in "attacks on our religious heritage." The ad suggests that policies promoted by the Obama administration, particularly ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy against gays in the military, are anti-Christian.
The Texas Freedom Network is a grassroots, nonpartisan religious liberties watchdog based in Austin.