Drivers in South Carolina are now be able to purchase license plates that display and represent their faith, thanks to a new measure passed by the South Carolina legislature that went into effect Thursday.
Under the new legislation, residents will be able to purchase license plates engrained with the words I Believe alongside the image of a cross and stained glass church window.
While support for the measure among lawmakers was unanimous, critics said that the new law was a violation of the separation of church and state.
A nearly identical measure to create I Believe plates in Florida died in April after lawmakers found themselves divided over the issue.
"The Legislature is clearly favoring Christianity over other faiths, and that violates the separation of church and state and basic fairness," said Americans United spokesman Joe Conn, according to Cybercast News Service.
"Under our Constitution, government must never favor one religion over others, he added.
Republican Senator Lawrence K. Grooms, one of the sponsors of the bill, however, disagreed.
I didnt see a constitutional problem with it, he explained to The New York Times.
We have other plates with religious symbols on them and phrases like In God We Trust. Just because its a cross, some very closed-minded people dont believe it should be on a plate, he added.
Other lawmakers also added that the new license plates would be no different than the other 200 different license plates that South Carolina residents currently have the option of choosing from.
[I]t is my personal view that the largest proclamation of ones faith ought to be in how one lives ones life, Republican Gov. Mark Sanford wrote, commenting on the legislation Thursday after it became law.
According to reports, proceeds from the plates will not benefit any organization.