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Offline AshSimmonds

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US judge bans religious number plates

A US federal judge has ordered South Carolina not to issue cross-adorned "I Believe" number plates, ruling it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

US District Judge Cameron Currie ruled on Tuesday that the state legislature - which last year voted unanimously to approve the number plates that also include a cross in front of a stained glass window - had clearly given favoured government treatment to a single faith in violation of the constitution.

"Whether motivated by sincerely held Christian beliefs or an effort to purchase political capital with religious coin, the result is the same," Currie wrote in a 57-page order.

"The statute is clearly unconstitutional and defence of its implementation has embroiled the state in unnecessary (and expensive) litigation."

Christian rights activists labelled the decision an attack on their faith.

"For those who say proclaiming 'I believe' violates the constitution by giving preference to Christianity, I think this lawsuit clearly discriminates against persons of faith," South Carolina lieutenant-governor Andre Bauer, who initiated the legislation, told The Greenville News.

"I will ask the state attorney-general to vigorously appeal this ruling because it is time that people stand up for their beliefs. Enough is enough."

But Mark Plowden, a spokesman for state attorney-general Henry McMaster, told the newspaper South Carolina's most senior legal officer could not appeal against the ruling, although it "utterly disappointed" him.

But Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a religious liberty group that brought the legal challenge to the Bill before the court, hailed Judge Currie's decision.

"This is great news," its executive director, the Reverend Barry Lynn, said in a statement.

"Some officials seem to want to use religion as a political football ... That's an appalling misuse of governmental authority, and I am thrilled that the judge put a stop to it."

His Washington-based group filed a lawsuit on behalf of four local clergy - three pastors and a rabbi - the Hindu American Foundation and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

On the third day of issue, 400 people had already ordered the licence plates.

In most US states, a driver can choose a customised licence plate for $US20 ($21.49) to $US30 ($32.24), in the name of groups defending state-approved causes or in their own name.

Fly fishermen, animal rights activists, war veterans or even anti-abortion activists - who proclaim to be "4LIFE" - thus make their own personal stamp on US roads.


Offline calais

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Offline Laminator

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Seems a bit hypocritical to ban religious plates in a country thats 1 dollar bills proudly carry the words "In God we trust".

Offline S4Simon

  • The Rubber King of Adelaide

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The Jedi Knight 'Order' is now one of the fastest growing recognised religions in the world today.  I hope they're not forgotten.  ;)
I've been rich & I've been poor...

Rich is better

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