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New Jersey's Ban on 'ATHEIST' Vanity Plate a 'Mistake,' Spokeswoman Calls It 'Resolved'

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    (Photo courtesy American Atheists)
    David Silverman, president of American Atheists, seated at a monument bench unveiled and dedicated on June 29, 2013 at the Free Speech Forum at the Bradford County Courthouse, Fla.
By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
August 28, 2013|4:07 pm

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has opted to change course and allow for American Atheists President David Silverman to get the "ATHEIST" vanity plate for his car.

A spokeswoman from the press office of the NJMVC told The Christian Post that while she could not comment on "personal business" like the application the "issue has already been resolved."

"It was a mistake…it's been resolved," added the spokeswoman regarding the initial rejection of Silverman's request for the "ATHEIST" vanity plate.

Earlier this month Silverman, president of American Atheists and a New Jersey resident, had his vanity plate request rejected, reportedly on the grounds that it was "offensive."

In an interview with The Christian Post, Silverman explained before learning of the news that he hoped the rejection he received was the product of a lower level administrator.

"I am hopeful that this was the decision of a low-level bureaucrat, which will be overturned when a supervisor sees the appeal," said Silverman.

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"I hope to hear from them soon, but they gave me no time line," said Silverman, adding that if the appeal fails he "will evaluate all options at that time, including legal action."

Silverman also told CP that he found the apparent reasoning behind the rejection for his request dubious, as "ATHEIST is no more offensive than XTIAN, JESUS, or THEIST."

"While some may claim to be offended by me calling myself an atheist, this does not usurp my constitutional right to self-expression, just as an atheist's 'offense' at a religious plate would not be grounds to refuse it," said Silverman.

"Although the government is not allowed to prefer one religion or another, we as citizens are surely free to express our own religious views on our own personal property."

While "ATHEIST" may indeed be acceptable in New Jersey, many, many other plates remain on a list of banned requests.

According to Mike Frassinelli of The Star-Ledger, the NJMVC has 1,085 words not allowed on vanity plates as compiled by governmentattic.org.

"BARRF, BADAZZ and BOOB are out. You might be a big admirer of Arizona, but ILOVEAZ isn't getting past St. Peter of the Personalized Plates, either," wrote Frassinelli.

"JEW, JIHAD and KKK are off limits, too, as are OLDFART and SUX2BU. Think you're witty and will get TIH2HO past? The MVC will figure out the 2 is meant to be an 'S' and that, read in a rearview mirror, your personalized plate will rhyme with 'Oh Spit.'"

Regarding the news, Silverman told The Christian Post that he was elated by the correction of the mistake regarding his request.

"I am very happy at how quickly the MVC acted to rectify the situation and look forward to my plates," said Silverman.

 

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