A federal judge halted South Carolina’s plans to offer Christian-themed license plates last week, ruling that to do so would constitute state-sponsored religious preference, reports The State.
According to Religion Dispatches, the concern over the legality of the plates mostly has to do with process. Private organizations can offer specialty plates through the DMV, and do, like one for the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry inscribed with the words “In Reason We Trust.” Another privately-produced (and currently available) plate sports an anti-abortion message, notes Associated Baptist Press. Since the "I Believe" licenses were sponsored by the state legislature, however, they were subject to legal challenge. Take a look at this Utne blog from last summer, which explores the uproar around the case in more depth.
South Carolina is not the only state to debate religious plates—Florida and Indiana have courted controversy after attempting to approve similar designs. Check out Stephen Colbert’s hilarious response to Florida’s most recent attempt: