Baptist pastor consigns clergy in AU license-plate challenge to hell.A Baptist minister in South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. says the clergy who serve as plaintiffs in Americans United's challenge to a state-issued "Christian" license plate had better get ready to spend eternity in a very warm place.
The Rev. Arnold Hiette organized a rally on behalf of the "I Believe" license plate Jan. 6 at the People's Baptist Church in the town of Greer. About 400 people attended, and, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. an account in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Hiette got a little excited.
The newspaper reported that Hiette was "red-faced and angry" and "shaking his fist alongside his Bible."
Continued the report, "Hiette told the congregation that the four complainants--especially the Unitarian--and one judge who took away the people's right to witness via their vehicle tags 'along with the ACLU ACLU: see American Civil Liberties Union. , they're going to burn in hell.'"
Americans United, representing four clergy plaintiffs, challenged the sectarian license plate in court last year. The special plate, authorized by the legislature, includes a Christian cross The Christian cross is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity. It is generally seen as a representation of the crucifixion of Jesus. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a representation of Jesus' body) and to the more general family of cross symbols. , a stained-glass window Noun 1. stained-glass window - a window made of stained glass
window - a framework of wood or metal that contains a glass windowpane and is built into a wall or roof to admit light or air and the words "I Believe." (Despite Hiette's claims, the ACLU is not involved in the case.)
AU argues that the state does not have the authority to create a special "Christian" license plate. On Dec. 11, U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie agreed with Americans United and issued a temporary injunction temporary injunction n. a court order prohibiting an action by a party to a lawsuit until there has been a trial or other court action. A temporary injunction differs from a "temporary restraining order" which is a short-term, stop-gap injunction issued pending a barfing the state from producing the plate. (See "No License To Discriminate!," January 2009 Church & State.)
Americans United filed the lawsuit on behalf of four South Carolina clergy--the Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Summers, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Knight and the Rev. Dr. Neal Jones. (Jones is the especially hell-bound Unitarian.) Also joining the suit were the Hindu American Foundation The Hindu American Foundation (HAF, founded May 8, 2004) is an American Hindu human rights group advocating on behalf of the Hindu community in the United States.
According to its website, "HAF interacts with and educates government, media, think tanks, academia and public and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is an Arab-American civil rights organization. ADC headquarters are located in Washington, DC. ADC is part of the Arab, Muslim and Sikh Advisory Council, created after the 9/11 attacks in conjunction with the FBI. .
Attendees at the rally signed petitions and listened to speeches from a wide array of "I Believe" supporters, including Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster Henry McMaster (born May 27, 1947, in Columbia, South Carolina) is his state's Republican attorney general, having been first elected on November 5, 2002. South Carolina Attorney General
As attorney general, McMaster has moved to protect children from Internet predators. , both of whom plan to run for governor in 2010.
"There is free speech for every group in this state besides Christians," Bauer said. "Every citizen has the right to free speech in this country. I don't understand why witnessing in public is considered unconstitutional. You don't even have to be a Christian to believe everyone deserves the freedom of speech."
Bauer charged that secular groups can get special license plates and said Christians should as well. In fact, any group that provides enough orders can get a special tag through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles In the United States of America, Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) is a commonly used name of the government agency of a U.S. state which administers the registration of automobiles (e.g., by issuing license plates), and/or the licensing of drivers (e.g. , subject to certain restrictions.
The "I Believe" plate is different because it was created specifically for one faith by the legislature.
No other tradition was given the same opportunity, and several legislators made it clear certain groups should not even apply. State Sen. Yance McGill, who supported the "Christian" plate, indicated that he would not support a Wiccan tag.
"That's not what I consider to be a religion," McGill told the Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. . Other lawmakers criticized the idea of a Muslim plate.
In an effort to help the public understand the issues in the case, Summers contributed an opinion column to Religion News Service, which was distributed nationwide.
"How could a Christian minister not be against a governmentally sponsored license plate?" asked Summers in the column. "When lawmakers chose to single out one religious group on a state-sanctioned license plate to the exclusion of all others, it shows an unfair and unconstitutional preference. What's more, this action trampled on a core value resting at the heart of Christianity: equality."
Concluded Summers, "If people want to proclaim their faith on their cars, there are a number of bumper stickers and emblems that can do the job. Just don't expect the government of South Carolina--or any government, for that matter--to help you spread the message. It's not the government's job, and none of us should want it to be."