The “One State under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, as well as Texas’ support for the private religious speech of all in this state. A purchase and design of a specialty license plate is, after all, a private decision and a private endeavor that merely passes through the DMV as one of many private/public arrangements that Texas participates in with the public. Approval of the “One State Under God” specialty plate is not controversial, as some media are now trying to spin the story (see the Statesman story and Fort Worth Star-Telegram story).
In the state of Texas, the phrase “One State under God” is, in fact, decidedly noncontroversial and widely supported. The phrase was added to the pledge to the Texas Flag in 2007 by the Texas Legislature (HB 1034) and supported by Liberty Institute, with only one elected official voting against it. The vote in the Texas Senate was unanimous. In the Texas House, the vote was almost unanimous, with Democrat Donna Howard being the only Texas House member to vote against the phrase.
In 2010, the fifth circuit federal court of appeals upheld the phrase “One State under God” in the Texas pledge as constitutional, after it was challenged by a couple from Dallas. Liberty Institute was also a part of this victory.
Further, the appearance of one or more crosses on a specialty license plate is not controversial. The following specialty license plates are available in Texas with one or more crosses: El Paso Mission Valley, University of St. Thomas, and Southwestern University. The University of Mary Hardin Baylor uses a church graphic for its specialty plate. There over 130 specialty license plates in Texas that can be purchased by a private individual with a wide variety of messages and symbols. I don’t remember any stories being written or any so-called “controversy” when those plates were approved.
What is controversial is how common place it has become for some activist groups to target and attack individuals and elected officials based on their personal religious beliefs, particularly Christians. Texas Freedom Network is one group engaged in this type of behavior and they don’t even hide it, as their mission statement says they “counter the religious right.” It’s also controversial that the media seems to give these types of groups a pass, because I guess us Christians should just turn the other cheek.
The reality is, the phrase “One State under God” is not controversial for Texas, at all.
The “Under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, period. An issue does not become “controversial” just because extreme liberal groups like Texas Freedom Network and Americans United for Separation of Church and State once again choose to attack a person’s private choice to express their strongly held religious beliefs, particularly Christianity, and see this as an opportunity to create division along political lines. These extreme liberal activist groups continue to lose at the legislature, state boards, and the ballot box, and the latest stinging loss over the “Under God” plate is just the most recent example of how out of touch they are with the mainstream and with Texas & American values in general.
See Liberty Institute’s press release on the Texas DMV passing the “One State under God” plate from yesterday here.