FRANKFORT, KY—The best laid plans. A Louisville non-profit called Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK, get it?) had the brilliant idea that it could promote the glory of God, make some money (In God We Trust) and fight the devil’s work (porn, get it?) all at the same time, by sponsoring a specialty Kentucky license plate adorned with the words, “In God We Trust.”
Great idea, except for the fact that a judge just nixed the plan, siding with the state’s Transportation Cabinet, which rejected ROCK’s 2008 application on the grounds that the group promotes religion, a ruling that did not sit well with the applicants.
“The group sued the Cabinet in 2009," reported Kentucky.com, "saying the Cabinet had improperly denied the application. ROCK said the Cabinet's assertion that ROCK was promoting religion was incorrect because it is not promoting a specific faith or religion.”
Technically, they had a point. A perusal of the group's website actually supports the claim that no single religion is promoted by name. Rather than directly evangelizing for, say, Christianity, the group's main purpose appears to be educating people "about the harmful effects of pornography and sexual immorality " in order to "defend and sustain the founding principles upon which our country was built" by promoting "a wholesome culture." They also equip "faith communities and educators to promote healthy sexuality," but whether that puts the group into the faith-based category itself is in the eye of the beholder. That said, the site certainly contains enough code words (ROCK, get it?) to fill a few hours of power. And the overwhelming impression apparently tipped the court against them.
Tuesday, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd found the group's claim that the plate was intended only to oppose porn and not to promote religion farfetched, writing, in his ruling, "The phrase 'In God We Trust' does not indicate to anyone who views the plate that the holder of the specialty plate supports the goal of abolishing pornography and the sex industry in the commonwealth.”
Not to worry, though. “In December," Kentucky.com also reported, "the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced ‘In God We Trust’ plates would become standard-issue, not specialty, plates, and cost the same—$21—as most Kentucky license plates. The plates became available in January.”
ROCK won’t get the money, of course, but that should not matter to the group. They can always fulminate about the ills of porn anyway. Only now, they won’t get to send mixed messages to people using the official motto of the United States in a manner that it was never intended to be used, for a message it was never intended to send. (Of course, the question of whether the "In God We Trust" plates violate the First Amendment's prohibition against government entities "establishing religion" remains open.)
How about 'Reclaim Our Honesty Kentuckiana' for a license plate? The Transportation Cabinet might just go for that one.
Photo: The plate, as it would have looked, had it been approved.