An American atheist has filed a federal lawsuit for being denied the request for a personalized “IM GOD” license plate.
In the lawsuit, Bennie L. Hart, from Kentucky, challenges the ability of government officials to deny personalized plates based on religious or political preferences.
Hart filed the lawsuit in federal court against Kentucky transportation secretary, Greg Thomas with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
He argues that under the law, government officials do not have the authority to censor messages just simply because they dislike them, because personalized license plates are a form of individual speech.
Bennie L. Hart says that by driving around with the “IM GOD” message, he simply wants to spread his views about religion – that it’s impossible to disprove anyone’s claim to being “God.”
77-year-old Hart said the “IM GOD” license plate is meant to communicate that no one religion’s view of God is more righteous than another’s. In his words; “Nobody’s been able to prove I’m not (God) and I can’t prove I am.”
Humorously, Hart chipped; “Well, there are six definitions of God in the American Heritage Dictionary. Number five is a very handsome man and my wife says I’m a very handsome man, and nobody argues with my wife.”
Besides, Hart says, he had the same plate when he lived in Ohio, without causing any problems. But when he moved to the Bluegrass State in February, the Kentucky DMV rejected his application for the “IM GOD” plate, citing it as “vulgar and offensive”.
The atheist’s request for the personalized license plate was denied by the state of Kentucky, on the grounds that it might distract other drivers, and could spark confrontations.
Hart says he simply wants the same opportunity to select a personal message for his license plate, just as any other driver, and there is nothing ‘obscene or vulgar’ about his view that religious beliefs are subject to individual interpretation.
Hart, who grew up in Corbin, Kentucky said he attended religious boarding school in Ohio for two years before deciding to become an atheist at age 15.