The Bible Belt is at it again, threatening to disrupt the relative stability of a secular America: South Carolina’s new licence plates, as pictured below, were a strong, straightforward and unavoidable proclamation of the Christian faith. As quoted in an article by the Associated Baptist Press (sic) and reported on ontd_political,  “In a preliminary injunction, United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie ordered state officials to halt production, sales, advertising and distribution of the new license plates. The tags feature a cross superimposed on a stylized stained-glass window and the inscription “I Believe” above the tag number and the name of the state.”

the plate of dischord

the plate of dischord

United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie issued a five-pages long order in which she reiterates the principle of separation of church and state, and believes that South Carolina state officials violated the constitutional right of all american citizens to be free of a government-established religion. It is important to keep in mind that those plates are not personal, individualized, customized ones – they were created and enforced by legislation, and publicly funded. (That plate is now available, but is sponsored privately like other South Carolina specialty plates.) Florida might be the sunshine state, but South Carolina is the state that apparently believes in a Constitution other than the one in place. Daydreamer and freedom of religion opponent Henry McMaster, South Carolina’s Attorney General, declared his “extreme disappointment” in the court ruling and maintains his fierce belief that this plate is constitutional. It’s not. I’m sorry to break this to you, McMaster, but Santa doesn’t exist either. But because the lobbying of irrationality prevails, McMaster has decided to fight against Currie and her very simple jurisprudence, urging plate owners, cited as defendants in the case, to appeal of her decision. Nothing says “I believe” like trying to make a Court of Appeals rule in favour of an unconstitutional decision.

The shiny, twinkling and possibly extremely dazzling anecdote surrounding this whole story is that the plaintiffs noted that the  legislators behind the plate  said that they would oppose efforts to create similar plates for Muslim South Carolinians. Religion, yes, but not just any religion. Having a crescent and a star on a plate would just be downright insulting for the good residents of South Carolina.

This incident may not be as important as Prop 8 – and its little siblings, Prop 2 and Prop 102 – were to equal rights activists; it is, however, a proof that the constitutional values that have founded the United States are no longer shared by a consequential part of the population. Not only are they trying to amend the Constitution to remove rights (before the Prop 8 debate, the US Constitution had only been amended to give rights, as it should be), they are also trying to overrule the Constitution itself. A strict separation of church and state had been enforced in order to preserve citizen’s rights to practice the religion of  their choice, without fear of persecution or discrimination. This was exactly the reason that had driven the founding fathers away from the British Empire to the New Continent.  Obviously, history belongs to the past, and change is part of evolution – but I sincerely don’t think Darwin ever believed in a backwards type of evolution. The type of evolution that pushed The View’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck to justify, as rationally as she could, that intelligent design was the only possible way to think of creation; the type of evolution that made South Carolina residents enforce the Christian faith onto a state-wide, legal and political motto (regardless of other possible religions, and atheism, within the state); the type of evolution that 51% of California voters prove by thinking that gay people are not full-fledged citizens.

It’s not that science has failed us, really – more like some people are failing science. They may be irrational, they may be defying logic, and they might be piling up in state courts – but keep in mind they have a voting ballot in their hands. Those are the days the earth is standing still.

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