“Under God” License Plate Now Available

April 2, 2012

One State Under God Texas license plateThe “One State Under God” license plate, which features a picture of Calvary Hill, is now available for order online from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. A portion of the proceeds will go to a nonprofit ministry in East Texas that supports outreach to at-risk children.  You can order the license plate here.

While some extreme liberal activist groups, like Texas Freedom Network, were in favor of banning the plates and allowing the government to exclude a person’s private choice to express their strongly held religious beliefs, these groups are simply out of the mainstream of Texas values. The phrase “One State Under God” was almost unanimously passed by the Texas Legislature and added to the Texas Pledge in 2007.  The purchase and design of a specialty license plate is a private decision and a private endeavor that merely passes through the DMV as one of many private or public arrangements that Texas participates in with the public. In this debate on the “Under God” license plate, the left simply continues to show part of its true agenda is to attack private choices of free expression and speech, especially when they are expressions of a strongly held religious belief, particularly Christianity.

Liberty Institute testified in favor of the “One State Under God” license plate, which passed the Texas DMV board in December of last year. See our press release from last December here.


Texans Rally in Athens, Say “Don’t Mess with Christmas”

December 21, 2011

Athens_Tx_Nativity_Rally_Henderson_CountyThis past Saturday, an estimated 5,000 Texans rallied to support the Nativity Scene at the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens, Tx. The Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation, who has a history of attacking religious freedom around the country, had sent a letter to county officials stating that the religious display on the courthouse lawn should be removed from county property.  On Saturday, with law and history on their side, 5,000 Texans stood for true religious freedom and sent the clear message: “Don’t Mess with Christmas in Texas.”

The rally was filled with moving music and speech as Pastors from all around the area united in support of the Nativity scene.  Pastor Nathan Lorick of  First Baptist Church of Malakoff, encouraged the crowd to no longer stand as the silent majority and challenged everyone to recognize that “the truth of the Bible was not a mere afterthought but instead a foundational basis on which we live.”

Please check out some great pictures and video from the rally below:

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*Special thanks to our local conservative and tea party friends for proving the pictures and video

 


War on Christmas comes to Henderson County

December 16, 2011

Athens_Tx_Nativity_Henderson_CountyIf Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because they are the same atheist group currently behind the attacks on the Tenth Mountain Division’s Big Mountain Jesus statue in Whitefish, Montana, the veterans memorial, that Liberty Institute is defending. They are also the same group that earlier this year filed suit against Governor Perry and the Houston Prayer rally and lost.  It seems FFRF is also investing much of their energy into waging war on Christmas, with the latest attack taking place in Athens, Texas in Henderson County.

In Henderson County, FFRF sent a demand letter to county officials demanding that they remove a nativity scence from the courthouse square. The County correctly responded to FFRF that the nativity scene was constitutional under established U.S. Supreme Court precedent.  The group also made known their plans to post a sign reading “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL.” The banner goes on to state that religion is a “myth and superstition.” Fortunately, local pastors and Christians are taking a stand against the false claims by FFRF and will be holding a rally at the courthouse this Saturday, December 17, 2011.

Pastor Nathan Lorick of First Baptist Church in Malakoff, a neighboring town to Athens stated in a recent article that “The point that I’m standing on is that we are seeing persecution on Christianity on the rise in America and I think there’s some great examples of that even recently, one being what we are going through,” he said. “Christianity for far too long has been the silent majority. We need to stand up and speak up in love, but with conviction. We believe enough in our God and we believe enough in our faith that we need to take a stand for what we believe in.”

Pastor Lorick, who will be officiating the rally on Saturday, really hit the nail on the head.  As we have seen with our stand on the “Under God” license plate, unless Christians stand up for their rights, the left will continue to try to chip away at our religious freedom piece by piece.  We applaud the folks from Henderson County and from across the state that will be standing up for religious freedom this Saturday.

Update: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has put out a statement offering support to the Henderson County Judge over the challenge to the Courthouse Nativity Scene.  See the statement here.


“Under God” License Plate Debate Continues

December 15, 2011

Update 2: Here is video of the debate on CNN

Update 1:  Today’s (12-16) CNN interview has been moved up to 12:00 p.m. Be sure to tune in.

This morning on KTRH 740 in Houston, Liberty Institute’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Jonathan Saenz, debated Kathy Miller, President of the extreme liberal group Texas Freedom Network, on the recent “One State under God” license plate that was passed last week by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board.  The Texas Freedom Network and other liberal groups had launched an unsuccessful campaign to defeat the plate.

You can listen to the exchange below:

Be sure to catch Jonathan and Mrs. Miller live on CNN tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. debating this issue again.  It should be an interesting debate so be sure to tune in.

In a related story, an opinion piece in the LA Times actually argues we should ban all specialty license plates and even states that “states might want to consider banning bumper stickers…”  I thought the left was for free speech?  In this debate on the “Under God” license plate, the left really continues to show part of its true agenda is to attack our private choices of free expression and speech, especially when they are expressions of a strongly held religious belief, particularly Christianity.


“Under God” License Plate Is Mainstream Texas, Period

December 9, 2011

Texas_Flag One State under God

The “One State under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, as well as Texas’ support for the private religious speech of all in this state.  A purchase and design of a specialty license plate is, after all, a private decision and a private endeavor that merely passes through the DMV as one of many private/public arrangements that Texas participates in with the public.  Approval of the “One State Under God” specialty plate is not controversial, as some media are now trying to spin the story (see the Statesman story and Fort Worth Star-Telegram story).

In the state of Texas, the phrase “One State under God” is, in fact, decidedly noncontroversial and widely supported.  The phrase was added to the pledge to the Texas Flag in 2007 by the Texas Legislature (HB 1034) and supported by Liberty Institute, with only one elected official voting against it.  The vote in the Texas Senate was unanimous.  In the Texas House, the vote was almost unanimous, with Democrat Donna Howard being the only Texas House member to vote against the phrase.

In 2010, the fifth circuit federal court of appeals upheld the phrase “One State under God” in the Texas pledge as constitutional, after it was challenged by a couple from Dallas.  Liberty Institute was also a part of this victory.

Further, the appearance of one or more crosses on a specialty license plate is not controversial.  The following specialty license plates are available in Texas with one or more crosses: El Paso Mission Valley, University of St. Thomas, and Southwestern University.  The University of Mary Hardin Baylor uses a church graphic for its specialty plate.  There over 130 specialty license plates in Texas that can be purchased by a private individual with a wide variety of messages and symbols.  I don’t remember any stories being written or any so-called “controversy” when those plates were approved.

What is controversial is how common place it has become for some activist groups to target and attack individuals and elected officials based on their personal religious beliefs, particularly Christians.  Texas Freedom Network is one group engaged in this type of behavior and they don’t even hide it, as their mission statement says they “counter the religious right.”  It’s also controversial that the media seems to give these types of groups a pass, because I guess us Christians should just turn the other cheek.

The reality is, the phrase “One State under God” is not controversial for Texas, at all.

The “Under God” plate is a reflection of Texas voters and Texas values, period.  An issue does not become “controversial” just because extreme liberal groups like Texas Freedom Network and Americans United for Separation of Church and State once again choose to attack a person’s private choice to express their strongly held religious beliefs, particularly Christianity, and see this as an opportunity to create division along political lines. These extreme liberal activist groups continue to lose at the legislature, state boards, and the ballot box, and the latest stinging loss over the “Under God” plate is just the most recent example of how out of touch they are with the mainstream and with Texas & American values in general.

See Liberty Institute’s press release on the Texas DMV passing the “One State under God” plate from yesterday here.


“Under God” License Plate Prevails In Texas (Updated)

December 8, 2011

One State Under God Texas license plate

This morning, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) board, voted (4-3) to approve a new specialty license plate with the phrase “One State Under God” and a graphic with three crosses.  The new plate is used to support youth outreach to at risk children, through a private entity. This is not the first specialty license plate in Texas to include “God” or a cross.  Specialty license plates are already available in Texas with the following phrases: “God Bless Texas”, “God Bless America”, and “One Nation Under God”(on behalf of the Catholic Knights of Columbus group).  Specialty license plates are also available in Texas with one or more crosses: El Paso Mission Valley, University of St. Thomas, and Southwestern University.  The University of Mary Hardin Baylor uses a church graphic for its specialty plate.  There over 130 specialty license plates in Texas that can be purchased by a private individual with a wide variety of messages and symbols.

The phrase “one state under God” is not controversial for Texas.  The phrase was added to the pledge to the Texas Flag in 2007 by the Texas Legislature (HB 1034), with only one elected official voting against it.  The vote in the Texas Senate was unanimous.  In the Texas House, the vote was almost unanimous, with Democrat Donna Howard being the only Texas House member to vote against the phrase “one state under God”.

In 2010, the fifth circuit federal court of appeals upheld the phrase “one state under God” in the Texas pledge as constitutional, after it was challenged by a couple from Dallas.

Leading up to the board meeting, some activist groups that claim to support religious freedom and free speech mounted an online effort to defeat the “Under God” plate.

“The DMV’s vote is a victory for religious freedom and free speech.  Private speech, protected by the First Amendment, should not be subjected to second class treatment.  The four members of the DMV board made the right decision. Anyone who opposed this plate either doesn’t know the law or has no respect for the First Amendment,” said Jonathan Saenz, Attorney & Director of Legislative Affair for Liberty Institute.  Mr. Saenz testified before the DMV board in favor of the new plate.

The National Council of Jewish Women testified against the plate.  There was no other opposition at the meeting from the public.


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