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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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June 24, 2008

License to believe?

This week the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released it second report based on one of the largest polls of Americans’ religious beliefs ever conducted (more than 36,000 adults were interviewed). Its survey found that more than 90 percent of Americans —including one in five people who say they are atheists—believe in God or a universal power. (You can read more about the survey at Pew’s Web site ).

That’s probably good news to Alabama Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo. The survey could bolster his efforts to introduce a bill that would create a faith-proclaiming “I Believe’’ license plate in Alabama. He says the plate “would send a message that the government in Alabama believes in faith and family.’’

The South Carolina Legislature already passed of a bill to create an “I Believe’’ license plate with the image of a cross and a stained-glass window. A similar proposal in Florida failed last month.

Although 90 percent of Americans “believe,” is an “I Believe” license plate a good idea? Not everyone thinks so. The American Jewish Congress and others are considering challenging the South Carolina law, saying the plate shows a preference for one religion. But for others, could the plate be seen an evangelism opportunity? Or is this just another way for the government to lure people to pay more for a “distinctive plate”?

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