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Democrat Takes Aim at 'In God We Trust' License Plate That Helps Fund Christian Group

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If one Democrat gets his way, Arizona drivers will no longer be able to proclaim “in God We Trust” on their license plates.

Democratic state Sen. Juan Mendez of Tempe, angry that the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom gets a share of the specialty plate revenue, has authored a bill to eliminate the plate entirely, according to The Arizona Republic.

“State dollars should not be funding an organization that works to strip residents of our state of their human rights and human dignity,” Mendez said in a news release, according to the Republic. “It’s appalling that we’ve already sent over a million dollars to this extremist hate group.”

According to the Republic, “ADF has been involved in a host of culture-war court cases: a challenge to the Obama administration directive that public schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice; the Hobby Lobby case regarding businesses’ right not to provide contraception coverage to their employees for religious reasons; and Arizona’s law defining marriage as between only a man and a woman.”

“We were appalled by it,” said Tory Roberg, director of government affairs for the Secular Coalition for Arizona, told the Republic. “People really need to know where their money is going.”

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Arizona shares revenue from specialty plates with various groups. The state does not publicize which groups get revenue form which plates.

The “In God We Trust” license plate was introduced in 2012.

Do you support the "In God We Trust" license plate?

Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the plate is an option for Arizona residents who agree with the group and who want to show their devotion to God and their country.

“Arizona is well within its rights to offer its citizens an opportunity to voluntarily purchase license plates affirming the First Amendment and contributing to ADF’s work on behalf of the freedom of all Americans to live and work according to their beliefs,” he told the Republic.

“Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live in accordance with their beliefs, including those with no belief,” Tedesco said. “We represent people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds.”

However, that’s not good enough for David Felten, pastor at The Fountains, a Methodist church located in Fountain Hills, who said supporting a group he disagrees with is wrong.

“What do people not understand about the inappropriateness of this kind of fundamentalist-inspired, state-sanctioned discrimination?” he said in a news release, according to the Republic..

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“This is not just an abstract violation of church-state separation. It’s a very real rejection of Arizona’s LGBTQ people by the very government that is supposed to impartially support and protect all of its citizens.”

Despite the claims of its detractors, the ADF notes on its website that its mission is very different.

“As secular forces chip away at our nation’s Judeo-Christian roots, religious freedom is increasingly threatened. Yet the First Amendment continues to reflect the Founders’ belief that “[t]he Religion…of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise [religion] as [conviction and conscience] dictate,” the site says.

“Alliance Defending Freedom defends religious freedom and opposes all attempts to compel people to compromise their beliefs or retreat from civil and political life as the price for following their faith.

ADF also notes it strongly supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

“Opponents of marriage will not stop at removing the foundation of civilization. They will redesign society at the cost of your religious freedom,” ADF states on its website.

Mendez also introduced a bill to make sure the public knows where all the revenue from specialty plates ends up.

“Hopefully, in the future we can put in place some common sense guidelines that would bar hate groups from earning money through Arizona license plates,” Mendez said in the news release.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
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Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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