Florida considers 'I Believe' license plates
Published 17 April 2008 | Aaron Leichman, US Correspondent
Florida residents may soon have the option to purchase license plates that display and represent their faith, thanks to a new measure currently under review in the Florida legislature.
Under the new legislation, residents will be able to purchase license plates engrained with the words "I Believe" alongside the image of a cross and stained glass church window.
Democratic Ed Bullard, one of the bill's sponsors, was among those who showered praise for the measure, noting that it would give residents more freedom to choose from a variety of the current over 100 different license plate options available in the state of Florida.
"They may not be into the manatee, they may not be into Challenger," Bullard said, speaking of the other license plate options available to state residents.
"That segment (Christians), which is a large segment of the population, can now get a tag that they like and can express their beliefs," he said.
Under current Florida laws, any resident can choose to purchase a special license plate for a fee of $25 (around £12).
Though the bill seems likely to pass, it has not, however, been without its critics.
Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, was among those who slammed the bill, calling it "crazy" and a clear violation of church and state.
"Maybe at this point the Legislature should begin rethinking whether a message on a state-manufactured plate, whether `I support panthers' or 'I'm a Christian', might be better on a bumper sticker," Simon said, according to The Miami Herald.
Republican Senator Mike Fasano, however, countered criticism of the new Bill, noting that the law already allows drivers to purchase individual license plates, and that license plates displaying crosses with an "I Believe" tag would be no different than what residents already have available to them.
"That's that the option of every driver who owns a vehicle. They can decide if they want to have a license plate with a cross in front of a stained-glass window. It's not different from choosing a Choose Life license plate or a manatee license pate or a Florida State University or University of Florida license plate," Fasano said, according to The Miami Herald.
All extra money raised from the sale of "I Believe" license plates will help fund non-profit organisations in Orlando, Florida.