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May 20 2008
AU urges us to take action in SC

May 20, 2008

Defend Religious Liberty in South Carolina

Urge Your Representative to Vote NO on SB 1329 and SB 638

Click here to take action now! <>

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits government endorsement of religion, but that has not prevented the South Carolina legislature from proposing measures that would endorse Christian symbols on license plates (SB 1329) and open the door to sectarian prayer in the state's elective bodies (SB 638).

In the eight remaining days of the legislative session, the South Carolina House of Representatives may vote on SB 1329, a measure that would allow proponents of a Christian license plate including a large cross and the words "I Believe" to bypass standard specialty license application procedures and instead win immediate approval of the state of South Carolina. The state cannot choose a singular viewpoint to be identified for special privileges, particularly one with an explicitly religious message: Essentially, the legislature has singled out the Christian religion and granted a Christian license plate, while denying all other religious viewpoints the same access to a plate. This clear favoritism for Christian viewpoints is unconstitutional and unacceptable.

A bill endorsing prayer in state government also presents serious consequences for religious liberty. SB 638 would open the door to sectarian prayer before a meeting of any city or county council or school board meeting in South Carolina. Sectarian prayer has been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts, yet this bill does not take steps to curb sectarian references indeed, passage of SB 638 would provoke cities and counties to violate the Constitution and thereby force them to engage in costly litigation. Any authorization of legislative prayer must contain explicit prohibitions for sectarian prayer, yet SB 638 does nothing to meet this requirement.

Please contact your Representative to urge him or her to stop these bills that threaten religious liberty. The Constitution compels the South Carolina government to avoid endorsing specific religious beliefs, yet these bills could do just that. South Carolina cannot afford to pass dangerous and unconstitutional legislation that weakens religious liberty. Click here <> to take action now!

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