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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Godís name on license tags wonít make Alabama godly

God, bless his Heart of Dixie, is getting the wrong kind of help from Alabama politicians.

State Rep. Steve Hurst, D-Munford, has prefiled a bill to require most car tags to include the phrase "God Bless America."

"That," he declares, "will let all the people in America know that we are a Bible Belt state."

This comes on top of attempts by others to post the Ten Commandments on public property, put "In God We Trust" on classroom walls, and make sure that science students don't get the idea that evolution is a fact and creation isn't.

You have to wonder whether Alabama is issuing license plates or bumper stickers. They're already cluttered with "Stars Fell on Alabama" and "Heart of Dixie." Add another slogan, and police may find it harder than ever to read the identifying numbers on the tags.

With regard to religion, a sense of balance is missing here.

America went for years with subtle expressions of religion uncontested in public life — "In God We Trust" on coins, "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, Christmas celebrations in schools. Some people protested, and in-your-face efforts to promote religion through government could be a reaction to that.

But we long for the day when it was all more low-key, when people were more tolerant of one another's opinions, whether they believed in God or not.

Despite all the talk about God, though, Alabama is doing badly in applying godly ethics on such issues as unfair taxation, poverty, education and child welfare.

Those who look to Jesus for guidance might reflect on his preaching against hypocrisy and empty public displays of religion. "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" he asked (Luke 6:46).

Recall also the circumstances under which Jesus uttered a statement that supports the separation of church and state: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17).

He was looking at a penny that contained Caesar's image but not, as far as we know, the inscription "In God We Trust."

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