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Statement of Lt. Governor André Bauer in Charleston Nov. 10 regarding I Believe tag ruling

November 10, 2009

I have asked you to meet me at Charleston’s Four Corners of Law, which is a most appropriate place to tell you how disappointed I am in Judge Currie’s ruling.

She talks about an abstract separation of church and state, yet here we stand at the Four Corners of Law, where city, county, and federal courthouses stand with St Michael’s Church on real ground in a real world.

She talks about separation of church and state, yet history records that on April 27, 1789, the Senate, and two days later the House passed a resolution in Congress giving instructions with regard to the Inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States:

Resolved, that after the oath shall have been administered to the President, he, attended by the Vice President, and the members of the Senate, and House of Representatives, proceed to St. Paul’s Chapel, to hear divine service, to be performed by the Chaplain of Congress already appointed.”

Our country began with divine guidance, and on this eve of Veterans Day, I tell you it continues to need divine guidance.

The judge says a simple license plate “amounts to a state endorsement not only of religion in general, but of a specific sect in particular.”

For those who say proclaiming “I believe” violates the constitution by giving preference to Christianity, I think this lawsuit clearly discriminates against persons of faith.  I will ask the state Attorney General to vigorously appeal this ruling because it is time that people stand up for their beliefs.  Enough is enough.

I could say that Currie is a liberal judge appointed by Bill Clinton who is using her personal wishes to overrule the Legislature and the will of the thousands of South Carolinians who want to purchase the tags.

I could say that this is yet another example of judicial activism, of federal judges out of control.  My instincts tell me that it’s even deeper than that.  I think it’s another attack on Christianity and I’m not going to sit by and watch this one happen.

I am personally offended by Judge Currie’s ruling and especially her awarding legal fees to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  If these national groups are so strongly opposed to letting South Carolinians have a choice about their automobile tags, then let them pay their own legal fees.  She is chiding the lieutenant governor for what she claims to be a waste of the taxpayers’ money, but then she turns around and awards these groups their legal fees.

Above all, I believe an automobile tag is a matter of choice.  I believe that every South Carolinian has the right to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and choose among dozens and dozens of license plates the one particular tag that reflects something they want to share with the rest of the world about their personality and beliefs.

I am proud and unrelenting in my support of the Legislature’s unanimous enactment of this plate.

Why?  Because the “I believe” plate reflects core values that are meaningful to our society, promoting love, joy, and comfort in our spiritual lives, and accommodating to every citizen’s right of free exercise of any and all religions.

I believe that every citizen has the constitutional protections of free speech and expression.  I don’t understand why witnessing for fundamental, enduring values is controversial or threatening.


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