‘8THEIST’ Licence Plate Denied, ‘BAPTIST’ ApprovedBy: Pam Wright - April 19, 2014
A New Jersey woman is filing a federal lawsuit after a request for a vanity license plate that read “8THEIST” was rejected, while another request for one reading “BAPTIST” was accepted.
Shannon Morgan, of Maurice Township, said in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights.
After receiving a rejection for a license plate reading 8THEIST – deemed “objectionable” – the woman decided to see what would happen if she applied for another license plate with the word “Baptist.” This request was accepted.
“There is nothing offensive about being atheist,” said Morgan. “I should be able to express my sincerely held beliefs with a license plate just like everyone else.”
“She believes that the commission’s decision to deny her a plate that reads ‘8THEIST’ but to allow her one that reads ‘BAPTIST’ expresses a preference for theistic religious belief over non-theistic belief,” the lawsuit states.
Morgan obtained the services of a religious liberty group to help in her fight against the system for her right to express her beliefs.
“The state of New Jersey is favoring religion while disparaging non-belief,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It simply has no right to do that. This license plate issue may seem like a small matter but it is indicative of a much larger problem – atheists are often treated by the government as second-class citizens.”
The Washignton, D.C.-based group’s website says it is “dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons