WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 25, 2010, 11:13 AM

Atheist license plate sparks debate

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A Fargo man is being denied a personalized license plate by the D-O-T, based on his atheism. Brian Magee is appealing his case for a license plate reading "Is No God," saying it should be treated no differently than the plates out there making other religious statements.

Take a look around. Cars can tell you something about their drivers. Some are subtle, others quite clear, but what happens when your personalized plates become personal, to someone else?

Brian: “Metaphorically, if religion and government try to hold hands, you should slap them both.”

Brian Magee hosts a Saturday morning radio show on 96.3 KNDS called Amplified Atheist. He uploaded these images to his Facebook fan page: Plates reading, "I love God" and "Praise God."

Brian: “It's not that I was bothered by the statements themselves, per say, it's just again that it's government property that it's being relayed through. That's the problem.”

After seeing these, Brian requested a personalized plate of his own reading; "Is No God," reflecting his atheist views. It was rejected.

Brian: “If they're going to allow one point of view to be expressed on government property, they should allow everyone's.”

There is no mention of religion in North Dakota's plate policy. The Deputy Director of Driver and Vehicle Services says this is the first request she knows of for an anti-religious plate and it was rejected because she says it would offend enough people that it would likely be recalled. She says recalls are very rare.

Linda Butts/ND DOT: “We are trying our best to serve the citizens of ND and try to protect what would be offensive. This is new territory and we are trying to be fair to everyone.”

Butts says the department is reviewing the appeal. Magee says if it's rejected, he'll work to get other religious plates recalled.