Atheist sues Kentucky after being denied ‘IM GOD’ license plate

An atheist filed a lawsuit against the state of Kentucky after he was barred from using a personalized license plate for his car. The license plate read “IM GOD”. Bennie Hart, the atheist in question, says the point of the message is to show that it is impossible to disprove anyone who claims to be God. The Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicles ruled that is in bad taste and may distract other drivers.

Hart filed the suit with the Eastern District of Kentucky Court in Frankfort with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The suit was made against Greg Thomas, the present Secretary of Transportation.

Hart, a resident of Independence, Kentucky, had the same plate for 12 years when he lived in Ohio. And when he moved to Kentucky in February the DMV rejected his application stating that it is "vulgar and offensive."

Hart claims the license plate means to say that no one religion's perception of God can be more righteous than the other.

"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," Hart said jokingly.

Hart's early years were spent in Corbin, Kentucky. He attended an Ohio religious boarding school before becoming an atheist when was 15-years old.

The Legal Director of ACLU-KY, William Sharp, said officials "do not have the authority to censor messages simply because they dislike them.” According to the lawsuit, Hart has the right to free thought and free speech which is guaranteed under First and the 14th Amendments and these were violated.

In a statement released by the ACLU-KY, Hart said, "I simply want the same opportunity to select a personal message for my license plate just as any other driver. There is nothing 'obscene or vulgar' about my view that religious beliefs are subject to individual interpretation."

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