News is out that the Florida legislature is considering adding an "I Believe" license plate to the menu of specialty plates available to Florida residents. While it is by no means certain that the plate will be approved, the proposal is generating some contoversy. Here is the proposed plate:
There are problems with this idea. The state should not be seen as explicity endorsing a particular religion and this plate does appear to endorse the Christian faith.
I think that the idea would be fine if the state was willing to offer specialty plates for adherents of any religion. One legislator, Rep. Kelly Skidmore, who voted in committee against the proposed Christian plate, is quoted in the article as saying, "It's not a road I want to go down. I don't want to see the Star of David next. I don't want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me." My guess is that not too many people who approve of the proposed plate would want to see that, either. My point is that if the state is going to produce a Christian plate they need to provide equal access to other religions.
Such access would need to be given to non-believers, as well. But the sponsor of the plate, Rep. Edward Bullard, said that if atheists proposed an "I Don't Believe" plate he would probably oppose it.
Unless the rights of practitioners of all religions and of no religion are going be allowed to have state-produced license plates that put forth their message, this is a bad idea. It's probably a bad idea even if that scenario did prevail, since it would just get ridiculous after a while.
Besides, if Christians really want to use the backs of their cars to preach and bear witness, there are other ways. I mean, I see dozens of Christian (and non-Christian) stickers and decals every day.
But, if you insist that you want to express your faith on a license plate, there may be a way to do an end run. You could request a vanity plate with your own personal message on it.
Here are some possibilities.
First, here's one for someone who wants to make an evangelistic proclamation.
Next, here's one for someone who wants to use the Greek word for those fish symbols that so many of us have on our cars.
Now here's one for someone who wants to make a statement about where they'll be headed in case of rapture.
How about one for people who grew up in the '60s and '70s?
Finally, there's this one for the Baptist who really wants people to know that she or he is a Baptist.
So you see, there are ways to evangelize using your license plate.
Of course, we might do better bearing witness with our lives, mightn't we?