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Debate Over Religious Plate

April 25th, 2008 by flanews

State lawmakers are fighting over whether or not to authorize a Christian themed license plate. The “I Believe” features a cross on a stained glass window. As Whitney Ray tells us, opponents say if the state approves the tag, they could be forced to issue dozens of other religious tags.

Floridians like to wear their causes on their cars. From “Save the Manatees, to “Support Special Olympics,” it seems everyone wants to make a statement.

“We have Marine Corps on just about everything,” said Leslie Bragg.

Bragg’s husband is a retired Marine. Bragg is glad the State issued a tag that allows her to show patriotism. Representative Ed Bullard wants the State to issue a tag to help Christians pronounce their faith.

“A lot of people don’t support the Dolphins or Tampa or whatever, but the churches are packed” said Bullard.

If approved, the “I Believe” tag would be one of more than a hundred specialty tags in the state. But if you wanted the “I Believe” tag on your car, you’d have to pay an additional 25 dollars.”

The money would go to a nonprofit organization promoting faith-based education. ACLU spokesman Larry Spalding says the State should keep God off of license plates.

“I’m a Christian, but the State shouldn’t be in the business of advertising somebody’s religion,” said Spalding.

Bragg isn’t waiting on the state. She already uses her SUV as a faith-mobile.

“Between the Marine Corps and the Christian symbol someone might ask why you have a fish on your car. It’s just a chance for us to share our testimony,” said Bragg.

Lawmakers who believe will have to put the fate of the tag in the hands of two Chambers that may not have enough faith or votes to pass the plate to the Governor. The “I Believe” tag proposal is part of a larger bill to issue several new tags. The state Senate booted the Christian tag from the bill, but the House could add it back when they vote on the legislation.

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