Wednesday, November 29

I am not making this up. Alabama License Plates (part 2)

Greetings to the beautiful people from Crooks and Liars, Pharyngula, and Shakespeare's Sister. Get your full-frontal Blue Gal here.

I blogged last month about Alabama License Plates, particularly the fact that there is a "Global War on Terror" plate for veterans of the "Global War on Terror." There aren't too many veterans, me thinks, because you know, you're not technically a "veteran" if (a) you're dead or (b) you're going to be re-deployed next week.

Recently I've noticed that there are far fewer "W" stickers on SUV's driving around Birmingham, Alabama, where I live. I see this as a slightly good sign, though it may be that since he won't be running again (barring any President-for-Life signing statement) even Alabamians don't think they need to advertise for him anymore.

But while the "W" stickers are waning, they have been replaced with something far more pernicious, in my opinion. Ladies and Gentleman, presenting Alabama's God Bless America License Plate:


I was just gonna comment how awful that jingo supporters of Bush have found a way to sneak in state-sponsored religion. Aw, isn't this just like "In God We Trust" on the money? Don't get me started. I'M A CHRISTIAN, GOD DAMMIT, AND THIS IS FUCKING OFFENSIVE TO ME.

Deep cleansing breaths.

So I'm looking up the image of this plate from the DMV and just guess what I find out. "God Bless America" is a STANDARD LICENSE PLATE. That means when you go in to get a plain old regular license plate you have a choice. You can get a passenger car plate, a motorcycle plate, a truck plate, a permanent trailer plate, or...a God Bless America plate. Go see for yourself. It's the only standard plate with a message, apart from "Stars fell on Alabama" (great song). No extra charge for God Bless America, and you get to choose it as a default at the Department of Motor Vehicles. No waiting. They will HAND YOU ONE from a pile when you pay the standard fee. No wonder I saw no fewer than eight of these on the school carpool run this morning.

I just can't believe the overwhelming kow-tow to fundie America-first fever in this state. Some state legislator thought this was a really good idea, and who is gonna argue with him apart from some Yankee transplant blogger, bless her heart?

Get this: If you are a veteran who was exposed to an atomic bomb blast in the line of duty, you have to pay three dollars to get a special plate for yourself. I looked this up because I thought it was sort of odd that in the price list it says, "Nuked Veteran." Nuked, like the noodles I had for lunch. They wouldn't actually put that on a license plate, though, and then charge three dollars to someone who was exposed to nuclear radiation defending our country, for the privilege of having it on his/her car...


At least it's got a fucking American Flag on the corner. God bless America.


  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Only in Alabama...

    I'm a southern transplant who finds this offensive too. The fundies must believe in a very weak God. They think if they don't go around defending Him (and of course it's "Him") all the time, He'll just fade away.

  2. Anonymous2:38 PM


    You had me rolling by the time you got to the Nuked Veteran part.

    Oh, we Americans are so silly.

  3. Great post. Here's an idea for an Alabama License Plate, in case any Fundie Trollers are present:

    "English: If It Was Good Enough For Jesus, It's Good Enough For You."

  4. Anonymous3:11 PM

    I am reminded of how Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" as a populist response to "God Bless America".

    "God Bless America" was too bourgeoisie to him.


  5. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Hey Repugs: The real Jesus forgives your Jesus for being a money grabbing Republican war monger.

  6. I designed this plate back when I first heard of this.

    Seeing fewer W stickers than previously here in Fun-gomery, but it still seems to be standard equipment on a lot of big SUVs and Buick LeSabres.

  7. Wait half a minute - does this mean someone can go in, ask for an "Allah bless America" plate - and sue for religious discrimination if one is not supplied?

  8. There are far fewer W stickers on SUVs in Ohio, too.

  9. They have a plate for nuked veterans? Got many Imperial Japanese army vets in Birmingham?

    That message is the most offensive one to me.

  10. If I pay three bucks, can I get one that says "God Save America From Right-Wing Christian Nationalists?"

    Or just "God Forgive America", with a graphic of a vet in a wheelchair on one side, and an Iraqi kid with no limbs on the other?

  11. Anonymous9:28 PM

    I'm a die hard atheist who objects to using God on anything, including our currency and pledge. In the case of currency, I have hope that we'll be able to remove it since it was only placed there 52 years ago.

    Luckily here in RI we only get Mr. Potatohead, Sailboat, War Vet, Purple Heart, National Guard or standard Wave plates.

    Now plate types are another thing entirely. There's an 01 which is standard passenger, but an 18 is amateur radio, which since I hold an FCC ticket I'm entitle to.

    Gotta love Rhode Island, the dark blue state.

  12. Anonymous2:15 AM

    Unbelievable ...

  13. I could say that this sort of thing suprises me but I have been desensitised to the religious insanity in your country.

  14. crazy, just crazy and stupid!

    can we have a plate for atheists or happy dancing pagan babies, druids? wiccans, strega...???

  15. I am from Alabama, so this pisses me off. But it does not surprise me. I am currently in SC and they have "In God We Trust" plates.

    It's the third one down. It is under the 'specialty plates' section here, but what they won't say on the website is that it is actually a standard plate that is handed out just like the other standard plate for no extra cost. They also won't tell you that the people at the DMV will look at you funny if you choose the 'secular' plate over the god one. It is sad for me to see that this kind of insanity has spread to my home state.

  16. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Forget the seeing "fewer Dumbya stickers on the SUV's"-- down here in Florida I'm seeing far fewer W. stickers on the old P-O-S/beater sub compacts. Most of the people 'round these parts who had W. stickers can't afford an SUV. And they voted for the help-the-richer-in-chief.

  17. Anonymous12:17 PM

    hey, in Ohio we have a "choose life" plate and ALSO "one nation under God"(with an american flag no less)but true to taft's admin. they both cost 35.00 more than regular ones. where does the money go? hell, if i can figure out specifically. website doesnt really give exact recipients especially in the choose life catagory.

  18. Anonymous12:18 PM

    The thing that gets to me is the missing word at the beginning, "MAY". We're using bless as an imperative, if anyone knows syntax any more.

    God is presented as some sort cosmic bellhop or porter of blessing.
    You or I or Joe/Jill Blow shows up at the desk, hits the bell, yells 'FRONT!' and here comes God with the divine right, every American (dunno about the wogs) can deeeemand more blessings. Just back the dump truck over here, Mr. God, and spread them out nice and even.

    Did I get the point across?

  19. it would be even better if it read "please god, bless america."

    : )

  20. By 2010 you will be hard pressed to find ANYONE who will admit to having voted for 'W'.

  21. Anonymous3:30 PM

    I am a Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris fan living in B'Ham and I too am appalled at this tag. I wonder will there ever be time when they have free pro-choice or free science tags in Alabama?

  22. Anonymous3:56 PM

    I love seeing fewer W stickers. As a local she is right, the stickers are on the SUV gas guzzlers predominantly. It has almost been more than I can take except for thinking how predominantly leeming like and mindless these folks are. The cerebral cortex of some residents just seem incapable of grasping logical thought in the presence of clear evidence. They approach politics as though it were an Alabama vs. Auburn football game where there is complete allegence without question. We are not all for the regime in power in DC in this state I can attest. As for the tag it is just nationalism at its best. If you are not for us you are against us has a strong usage of fear behind it to manipulate the masses.

  23. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Hi, reasonable, patriotic American atheist living in San Francisco here. Yes, we should all be offended by this. But somebody really needs to take care of this. Talk to your congressmen and senators, but I doubt that will help. It's at least worth a try. But we all know the only thing that is going to stop this nonsense is a court order. Somebody needs to sue. Personally, I'd rather have it be a Muslim than an atheist, although an atheist might have a better case (because of the "God could mean Allah" argument). No one could argue that handing these plates out for free or even for money is not unconstitutionally establishing religion.

  24. Anonymous8:06 PM

    Are you kidding? Florida has a "Choose Life" plate, written in a crayon font, like small children designed them!

    As a transplanted New Yorker, I'm hoping to get a plate that says "We were never at war with Eurasia", or maybe just "Osama Bin who??"

  25. As Carol Mosely Brown said,

    "Osama Bin Missin'!"

  26. Anonymous10:37 PM

    As a Christian, I don't like the license plate either. "Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's," you get the idea.

    On the other hand, this is a license plate. You gotta choose your battles, man, and I'd really rather get all worked up about something slightly more significant, like the war or the crappy roads in Alabama.

    Here's what we need... a court order to remove any mention of God from license plates. Because if there's one thing this world needs, it's more judicial decisions to further polarize opinions when it comes to religion. (that was sarcasm, BTW)

    In any case, have a happy non-offensive, non-denominational holiday.

  27. Boy your I Must Seek Shelter Elsewhere Meter must be moving its needle dangerously close to the Move Now! redline, don't you think?

    Come on...we all know you'd be happier in Vermont. ;-)

  28. I was just gonna comment how awful that jingo supporters of Bush have found a way to sneak in state-sponsored religion. Aw, isn't this just like "In God We Trust" on the money? Don't get me started. I'M A CHRISTIAN, GOD DAMMIT, AND THIS IS FUCKING OFFENSIVE TO ME.

    Slightly different type of christian than I am I see :)

    I'm not trying to start a war or anything (you wouldn't want to link my site or vice-versa since we are on different beliefs^^) but it's hard to fathom a Christian that is offended by God o.O

    To me it would be offensive if you had to pay extra for it.

    Also, as a Christian, why would you link to the ACLU? (yes I am a curios person and not trying to start a fight by honestly wanting to know things)

  29. "Also, as a Christian, why would you link to the ACLU?"

    Yeah, and Blue Gal, you know a true Christian can never been a liberal!!

    ; )

    You can thank Quaker Dave for my unruly presence here.

  30. "In any case, have a happy non-offensive, non-denominational holiday."

    Just go with Merry Christmas, k? We're adults here.

  31. Anonymous9:10 PM

    As an Alabamian, I don't like the tags, but they have become quite popular.

    The Alabama director for American Atheist wants to get one so he can paint over the B and make it a "GOD LESS AMERICA" tag.

    One problem with these tags is you can't get them personalized.

    The other idea is to create bumper stickers to parody the tags, "Yahweh the Mountain God Bless American".

    One last thing, isn't giving Yahweh a command "Blessing America" an odd thing for a Christian to do?

  32. Anonymous3:02 AM

    You people are really wound up over this. Who cares??? It's just a license plate. I'm an atheist, but that plate doesn't bother me one bit. I don't see it as a religious plate. I see it more as a patriotic plate. Get over it.

  33. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I'm Jewish, and an Alabamian/South Carolinian living in Georgia...

    Can I get an Alabama plate with an Israeli flag?

  34. I don't know if you noticed either but the "God Bless America" tag (unless I missed something) is the only standard tag that does NOT allow custom lettering. Sometimes this state, I swear...

  35. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Nope ...Indiana Too ..
    "In God We Trust" blazed on a flag background ...presently this red state is governated by Bushs' boy mitch daniels, a shrimp of a leprechan masquerading as a real human ..

  36. Anonymous3:01 PM

    Same thing in Indiana - lovely blue plate with "In God We Trust" taking up 1/3 of the space. I refer to the drivers as 'blue plate special people'. Adding fuel to the debate, the ACLU filed suit because the State waives the $15 fee affinity plate fee. I expect to see them everywhere now.

  37. Anonymous9:46 AM

    It's a choice. Choose the plate or don't. You don't have to take it.

    God has been mentioned in the country since the beginning. Why do you think so many historical documents and monuments have God mentioned somewhere?

    I see it as patriotic, not religious.

  38. Anonymous5:21 AM

    thank god someone else had a fit about this, too. i saw one like a week ago and i thought it was from some other state, but i looked closer and it was an alabama plate. later on that week i saw more and more. i thought, you've got to be kidding me. i called my boyfriend freaking out. i thought they were going to make us have that tag, not give us a choice. either way, that whole thing makes me want to vomit.

  39. Anonymous11:10 AM

    I'm from Birmingham. I don't find these tags offensive per se, but the political message behind them I find deplorable. The first time I saw one, my reaction was there goes a stupid right-wing fundie/bigot. When I found out it was the standard tag, I got angry. I choose the UAB tag, eventhough it cost extra. If the right wingers still support the right wing agenda and their insane leaders, i.e. bush, cheney, rove, mccain etc, after they've all but destroyed our democracy and military, they're all beyond reason and hope of being rehabilitated. They can all go to hell! Unfortunately we have to go along for the ride these igits have forced upon thinking Americans.

  40. Anonymous11:11 PM

    I stumbled across this page while googling for 'license plates-religious conflict'. Here in Indiana, the state (in its infinite wisdom) recently decided to issue a 'In God We Trust' license plate as a standard option. While all other special plates require a fee here, this one is offered as an alternative to the standard plate without any extra cost.

    Needless to say, I'm a bit annoyed. When will they start handing out the 'In Yahweh We Trust', 'In Satan We Trust', 'In Allah We Trust', 'In Brahma We Trust', 'In Buddha We Trust', 'In Zeus We Trust', 'In the Morrigan We Trust', 'In Quetzlcoatl We Trust', 'In Horus We Trust', 'In Odin We Trust', and all the other license plates for *every other god and goddess worshipped by every person in this state*.

  41. Anonymous3:49 PM

    I found your blog interesting and I agree where you are coming from. We have the same plate in Indiana and I also feel that it is politically divisive and religious in nature--but for a different reason. In my state, there is a "choice" of the God we Trust plate, or regular license plates. Its a way for the republican faithful to label themselves for free on their cars. I would actually prefer if all cars were forced to have "god we trust" like on our dollar bills. At least that way the message becomes secular again--by having people choose a message (and priviledging the God we Trust message by offering it for free over other specialty plates) it becomes religious -- in my opinion of course.

    Keep blogging! ...Dratz

  42. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I prefer my good old 1gxxxxF plate. As for the W stickers, I have a plan to get those blue dot stickers and plaster the remaining buggers. And I think we need a plate with Vulcan on it more than a stupid flag and a cntroversial message. We need the GBA tags like we need a hole in the head

  43. Anonymous10:20 PM

    I see nothing wrong with the plates. Of course, if you are one of the many people who become hypersensitive at seeing religious references, then you will have a problem with the plate. Of course, that's your problem, which in turn is none of my concern, nor will I make it my concern.

    Secondly, it is not a STANDARD PLATE. It is a DISTINCTIVE PLATE that, unlike others, has no extra fee attached to it. That is the reason why it is so popular. That, and the current standard plate design is probably the ugliest out of all the 50 states :^)

  44. Anonymous6:43 PM

    Just to clarify, the "God Bless America" tag is not just the government trying to push state sponsored religion. It is supposed to be a tribute to the firemen and policemen who lost their lives on 9/11. It is 100% voluntary and not the standard tag, even though it is no extra charge. If you want it on your car, get it, if you don't, then don't get it. Why is it your business what someone choses to put on their license plate? We can personalize our tags any way we want, but far be it from the state to give us an option to show our support of this country. By the way, if you haven't noticed, "In God We Trust" is printed on our money, we say "one nation under God" in our pledge, and "God Bless America" is a patriotic song sung not just in church. This country was founded on religion whether some people chose to think about that or not. I am in no way a religious zealot, but get your facts straight before you start talking about things. Here is an article about the plates:

  45. Anonymous5:54 PM

    I recently read you comments concerning the license plate from Alabama that states "god Bless America" and do not understand why you find it so offense. I do not see how you can say you are a christian and then print profanity after making that comment. Also, If you read the original constitution you will not see where it states that church and state should be seperated. Seperation of church and state was a comment penned by thomas Jefferson and supported by the supreme court. You probably also are against an amendment banning the american flag

  46. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Maybe Alabama should make another plate with Rev. Jeremiah Wright's picture on it with the words along the bottom: "God DAMN America".

  47. Anonymous7:59 AM

    I'm not a religious person at all, and I dont find this offensive. I think those that are offended need to stop being overly sensitive and wasting your time over something so trivial.

    I am a veteran and I do think the "nuked Vet" one is stupid.

  48. Anonymous1:57 PM

    alright people. the latest posts are correct: you have a choice of plates to put on your car here in alabama. some are free, some require an additional fee. i don't really care what your license plates states; i'm more interested in what you personally say and do in your life as a christian, muslim, atheist, or whatever. get on something to really get all hot and bothered about, like poverty, hunger, crime, domestic violence, etc.

    and for all you 'transplanted yankees', as you call yourself, if you don't like the way we do things in the south, shut the fuck up, back your bags, and move back to whatever northern state from whence you came. i'm tired of your bitching and complaining about how things are more fundamentalist in the south, how we are more narrow minded, how our state governments and leaders are redneck and backwards, blah blah blah. yall drive like shit anyway, you're not friendly when someone like myself says hello to you in shops or schools, and if we southerners liked the way your nothern states ran things, we would do it here, too.

    and finally, let me just state as a highly educated alabamian (4 college degrees including a PhD in microbiology), i've never seen as much racial discrimination as i have when i've been up north (ny, vt, nh, dc, ri). if that's how 'christians' act up north, i'm glad i'm agnostic. and no, the 'god bless america' does not bother me in any way.

  49. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Yes, it's supposed to be a choice, but I don't know if that is always the case. A friend of mine recently moved to Alabama, and went to our local license office to get a new tag for his truck. He was handed the "God Bless America" tag like it was the standard, the one and only version, no questions. He didn't know there was another option. That's what I'm afraid of, either it becomes the unofficial default (another option is never offered), OR the state determines they are going to drop the stars tag due to the high popularity of the God Bless America tag.

  50. I packed my bags and left yesterday (May 26 08) anon.

    I am interested in the popularity of this post where folks are posting comments months later. I assume this is some writing assignment?

  51. Anonymous2:10 PM

    So the first thing you do after boldly proclaiming you're a Christian is to purposefully take the Lord's name in vain. I'm so convinced.

  52. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Somehow I got here from searching for registering my car in AL (it has TN tags on it right now).

    I guess most of you guys are waiting for the "I'm an uptight asshole that spends too much time finding something to have a problem with" tag. I think they'll be out next year. Jeez, let people have whatever keeps them going.

    And if you feel you're intellectually superior to certain notions that are common in the South...well, no one made you live here. But of course, we have to put up with you.

  53. No you don't, Josh, I moved out. Back to the Great Midwest. We've got wingnuts here, but they don't run the legislature.

  54. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Why do you people even move to the South? You know you would be so much happier up North, living among like-minded people. Why would you ever be here in the South?

  55. All you people are just crazy! I mean, jeez! All of you being "offended" by someone else's belief and practices is creating nothing more than intolerances and that turns into nothing but hate. To the atheists wanting a secular plate, well you have one. It has the words Sweet Home Alabama on it. I mean really what else do you need?? Oh wait, how about "Please BLANK, Bless America". There, is that one better for you? Our forefathers must be turning over in there graves right about now. They had a plan for this country and they way we are heading, this is definatley not part of that plan.

    I am not practicing any religion nor do I believe in one more than the other and I could care less if someone else does. If that is what they need, then good for them. If they want to practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Wiccan, Paganism, Buddhism or whatever, its all the same to me. And I don't get why people are always so offended by what someone else believes in. I mean seriously, why are you so offended by it? Its just a license plate and if you don't want it, there is nothing saying you have to use that one.

  56. Rhonda I don't know what possessed you to post a comment on a post from 2006, but thanks for that.

    The problem is not what 'PEOPLE' want to do with their freedom of religion. It's what the state does with promoting one religion over another. I have plenty of religious bumperstickers on my car. But I say, keep religion, ALL religion, off of license plates. They're state sponsored, and God does not need the state's endorsement, nor do taxpayers need to pay for such shenanigans.

  57. Fran its funny you say that. I just moved to Alabama, purchased a new vehicle and I was looking for where to place the stickers on the plate when I stumbled upon your blog. I was very upset by what I read.
    Yes, I did choose the God Bless America plate. Why you might wonder. Because I am VERY patriotic and I believe in what our forefathers wanted for this country. When Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase, "wall of separation of church and state", what he meant was we are all free to practice whatever religion we choose and the state shall not interfere. The Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That means that any religion cannot ever become a state enforced religion. Simply put, we are free to practice whatever religion we choose and the government can never force a particular religion upon us. There is nothing stating that religion cannot interfere with the state.
    Learn your history; Christianity is nothing but a culmination of many religions and ANY religion is nothing but a code of conduct. Our forefathers were Believers who instilled their ethics and morals, learned from religion, in this country. That code of conduct gave us what we have today, a Democratic Republic, a government for the people, ran by the people. You take that code of conduct out and what do you have?? Communism, socialism, dictatorships and so on. Instead, we have freedoms afforded to us and people have died and are still dying to allow us those freedoms. You think this Global War on Terrorism has nothing to do with religion?? Learn your history and think again. History tells us that those Islamist extremists will never stop until they bring us down, take over and all of us “Infidels” are forced to convert over to their version of Islam. Now that would completely go against the Constitution of the United States. Why do you think they call it Jihad?

    The funny thing is, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Kabbalah and so on, it’s all the same God, just a matter of linguistics. For the atheists or non-monotheistic believers out there, you have a choice to use whatever license plate you wish. But those who choose that plate do so for reasons that extend far beyond religion. The terms, “God Bless America” and “In God We Trust” run so much deeper and so I will proudly display my “God Bless America” license plate on my car because I have that choice.

  58. You can have a "God Bless America" bumpersticker on your car and leave the state agency out of it. You don't seem to get that my state tax dollars are funding Alabama jingoism.

    I have a divinity school degree, Rhonda, and I know both the Constitution guarantee of separation of Church and State INCLUDING Article VI. I've also read the treaty of Tripoli and many of the Supreme Court cases which are based on these documents. There is a WALL. Two hundred years of legal precedent say so.

    Yeah I also understand it's a goddamn license plate and Alabama is enslaved to the theocratic majority of its citizens. That doesn't mean I or the courts have to go along.

    This post is old, and further debate is not going to change anyone's mind here. We're done.