Kentucky Atheist Sues After DMV Rejects Request for Specialty ‘I’m God’ License Plate

Hart-compressedFRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky man who identifies as an atheist has filed a federal lawsuit against the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after his request for a specialty plate reading “I’m God” was denied.

“Nobody’s been able to prove I’m not [God] and I can’t prove I am,” Ben Hart told the Courier Journal this week, stating that the purpose of his plate was to assert that one’s view of God is no more right than others.

His lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

“Hart has a right to select a personalized plate message that reflects his philosophical views, just as any other driver may select an individual message for their personalized plate,” said FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott in a statement. “Just as others may select religious messages, Ben Hart, an atheist, has a right to comment on religion.”

As previously reported, Ben Hart was granted the license plate when he lived in Ohio, but when Hart moved to Kentucky, his application for the plate was denied because it violated state regulations that ban “vulgar or obscene” messages.

Hart consequently contacted FFRF, which sent a letter to DMV Commissioner Rodney Kuhl to request that the decision be overturned.

“We request that the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing immediately approved the personalized plate,” it read. “The Division’s restriction of the message because of the viewpoint being expressed violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

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“It should be plain to see that a state government may not restrict an ‘I’m God’ personalized plate,” the letter continued. “An individual has a protected free speech right to select that message, as they would select a religious message or any other message.”

J. Todd Shipp, an attorney with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, responded to FFRF’s correspondence by holding firm and stating that the plate is not in good taste and could pose a distraction to other drivers.

“Without question, the use of ‘I’m God’ is not in good taste and would create the potential of distraction to other drivers and possibly confrontations,” he wrote. “We would have taken the very same position had the individual requested plates that read ‘I’m Allah,’ ‘I’m Buddah’ or ‘I’m Satan.’”

Shipp pointed to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlined that states have the right to reject certain plates because of its disagreement with the message it conveys.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky considers specialized and personalized plates to be government speech,” he said. “Our plates carry the name of our state and any message on a license plate carries an indication of this state’s endorsement.”

Now, Hart is seeking for a federal court to declare the cited state regulation unconstitutional as applied to his plate, and to require that the DMV issue the plate as requested. He contends that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights have been infringed.

“Plaintiffs anticipated future personalized license plate is significant to Plaintiff because it would convey a philosophical and political message to others regarding Plaintiff’s view of religion generally, and about how faith is susceptible to individual interpretation specifically,” Hart’s lawsuit reads.

He told the Courier Journal this week that he began identifying as an atheist as a teenager in thinking about God’s punishment on the world in the days of Noah.

Scripture outlines that God brought the flood after Noah, called in 2 Peter 2:5 a “preacher of righteousness,” pleaded with all mankind to repent of their evil, but they refused.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5 reads, continuing in verse 11, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”


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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Christian Headline news reports that Poland prayed like this just like old Christian USA did. Eastern Europe seems alive after going through the furnace of the brutal hellish atheism’s abusive reign. White men’s nations’ glory is the holy knowledge of the one true living God:

    “In our hearts, rule us, Christ! In our families, rule us, Christ! … In our schools and universities, rule us, Christ,” the ceremony’s prayer said. “Through the Polish nation, rule us, Christ! …We pledge to defend Your holy worship and preach Thy royal glory, Christ our King, we promise.

    “We entrust the Polish people and Polish leaders to You. Make them exercise their power fairly and in accordance with Your laws. … rule us, Christ! Reign in our homeland and reign in every nation – for the greater glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the salvation of mankind.”

    Said Bishop Andrzej Czaja after Saturday’s ceremony: “It is not a declaration of Christ the King, because He is King. It is not a declaration of Christ the King of Poland. His kingdom is not of this earth, and His dominion is over the whole universe.”

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    This atheist man belongs to a mental hospital. A man who identifies himself to be divine is mentally ill. Well-fed rich nations have a lot of deliberate problems that do not have to exist. Men should work hard to earn bread and feed his family instead of going for mental illness willfully.

    • johndoe

      Too ridiculous! Thankfully we are not a theocracy. The USA is made up of people from many faiths and none at all. Its sad that you come on this forum and continuously insult Americans who dont believe as you do. Mental illness is related to religious indoctrination. Stop insulting Americans.

      • Oboehner

        Its sad that you troll this forum and continuously insult Americans who dont believe as you do. Mental illness is related to religious indoctrination. Stop insulting Americans.

        • johndoe

          Grace insults people every time she posts. No reason to not counter her posts. I havent insulted anyone.

          • Oboehner

            LOL, good one.

          • johndoe

            Thanks!

      • Bezukhov

        They’re taking a page out of the Communist’s play book. Anyone opposed to Communism was considered to be mentally ill. Now we have Christians saying the same thing about people who disagree with them.

        • Osamao

          Bending reality to fit your narrative as usual I see. I believe the country resoundingly rejected your Progressive Religion of State on Comeuppance Day,Nov.8th. So now in your desperation you refer to your Communist Revolutionary playbook. All you Communist Democrat front groups are banning together to create civil unrest. Death throes of the movement. I LOVE IT!
          P.S. “Anyone opposed to Progressivism is considered to be mentally ill.”
          Man you people are Fahked in the head. You don’t even see it do you?

          • Bezukhov

            First off, I’m no Communist/Progressive/Democrat. I’m an Anarcho-Capitalist, which puts me to the right of you on the political spectrum.

            It was Grace up there who started the whole “Mental Illness” business. A lot of Christians believe that Atheism is a ment Problem

          • Osamao

            Whatever you say pal…….K?

          • tatoo

            But it is Trump who is cozying up to Russia.

          • Osamao

            Just another Communist Democrat lie. Nice try Goebbels. And repeat

  • Amos Moses

    “and I can’t prove I am”

    so to use the A-theist argument ….. you aint ….

    • meamsane

      Very Inconsistent in their “logic” aren’t they?

      • Mr Cleats

        They have NO logic. Talking with an atheist is like talking to some character out of Alice in Wonderland.

        You can safely assume that people who constantly refer to themselves as “rational” and “logical” are just throwing up a smokescreen, kinda like the used car dealer named Honest John.

        • johndoe

          Too funny! Your logic consists of talking snakes, men who walk on water and come back from the dead, mud men, and rib women. Yup, you’ve got the market cornered on logic

          • Amos Moses

            So how is that science thing workin for ya ……. “global warming” that just does not want to cooperate with the ideas of men ………

          • johndoe

            Nice deflection.

        • johndoe

          Logic that consists of talking snakes and men who walk on water isnt logic.

          • Oboehner

            Logic that consists of exploding dots and magical random chance isn’t logic.

          • johndoe

            Says the person who believes that a supernatural deity poofed an entire world and its inhabitants into existence.

          • Oboehner

            Says the person who believes an entire world and it’s inhabitants magically poofed out of ooze bazillions of years ago.

          • johndoe

            If you want to put it that way…..

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Says the person who believes an magically enternally-existing being magically poofed an entire world and its inhabitants out of nothing six thousand years ago.

          • Oboehner

            Says the person who doesn’t believe in grammar.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Is that all you’ve got?

            I hear that kind of argument, if it can be truly called an argument, all the time, that atheists think what you said they do. First of all, no atheist I’ve ever talked to says anything like that, that an “an entire world and it’s inhabitants magically poofed out of ooze.” You’re misrepresenting their views, either intentionally or out of ignorance…or possibly a bit of both, I don’t know. Just to speak for myself, I take somewhat of an agnostic view on most questions like that, i.e. the origins of life, the universe, and everything. (if you’ll excuse the Douglas Adams reference…lol) But that doesn’t make me any less of an atheist than anyone else.

            My point really is, even if atheists DID say that, how is that so different from saying “God did it”? To me, that doesn’t answer any questions at all, it just moves the answer up a level, so to speak.

          • Oboehner

            Then do enlighten me in your own words as to how it all came about, otherwise I have to stick to my previous statements.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Read this line again…..

            “Just to speak for myself, I take somewhat of an agnostic view on most questions like that,”

            In other words, I don’t claim to know exactly “how it all came about”! I thought I made that clear enough. That’s what “agnostic” kinda means, you know.

          • Amos Moses

            well using science …… whatever caused the big bang ….. had to have an equally or greater power to cause it in the first place ….. so what was that ….

          • johndoe

            Research it for yourself…its all out there in black and white…let your fingers do the walking…

          • Amos Moses

            So you got nothing…..

          • johndoe

            So you got nothing……..

          • Amos Moses

            Nope ….. i have the science that says you need an equally sufficient force to cause the effect ….. and if science cannot tell what that is …. you got nothing ….

          • johndoe

            So you’ve got nothing……got it

          • Amos Moses

            i have the science ….. Got it ……

          • johndoe

            Show me your science that proves the existence of your god or disproves evolution…

          • james blue

            So how did that equally sufficient force come to be?

          • Amos Moses

            it always was ….. but that comes from God …… and the only way for “scientists” to say that is to steal from christianity ….. scientists cannot say what it is ….. only describe the nature of it ….. and what they end up describing is God and His nature ….. and they only have theft from scripture but then deny scripture ….. well … not true scientists … the psuedo-scientist who refuse to look at all the evidence ….. and God is part of that evidence …….

          • Liberal Elitist

            That’s quite an entity you’ve got there. I’m sure such power would have no interest in civil marriage.

          • Amos Moses

            He is interested in truth …. and civil “marriage” is a lie …. and opposed to truth and Him ……

          • james blue

            While having different rules for your argument is certainly convenient.

          • Amos Moses

            it is psuedo-science that keeps changing things to fit this weeks new “Theory” ………..

          • tatoo

            Quote me that science. If your talking about the laws of thermodynamics, it refers to a closed system. The creation of the universe was an open system.

          • Amos Moses

            according to whom …… does not matter ….. IF …. you are talking about the BBTHEORY ….. it is a DOT ….. and a closed system …… and “science” (psuedo-science) has no answer for that force to cause it ……….

          • tatoo

            Why did it need a greater power?

          • Amos Moses

            read it again ……..

    • Michael C

      That’s the point.

      • Amos Moses

        thats the A-theist point ….. that he is blind ….. and he is not God …..

        • james blue

          “and he is not God”

          Prove it

          • Amos Moses

            ummmm ….. he said he cant prove it ………..

          • james blue

            I’m not asking him.

          • Amos Moses

            right ….. U R just trolling ……..

          • james blue

            Why is it every time people such as yourself are challenged you call the challenger a troll?

          • Amos Moses

            because usually we can identify your line of reason as nothing but looking for a response that you cannot answer when challenged ……….. you could make your silly assertions anywhere ….. but you choose to do it on christian forums due your own perceived superiority and self righteousness ….. and your pride in that is glaringly obvious ….

          • Amos Moses

            you came here seeking us ….. we did not come here seeking you ……..

          • Oboehner

            You could get the plate “IM TROLL”.

          • james blue

            I could, but then I risk getting billed for all your tickets.

          • Oboehner

            Seems you’re confused again.

          • johndoe

            On your troll calling kick today I see

          • Oboehner

            On your trolling kick as ususal I see.

          • Amos Moses

            Got news for you ….. if he were God ….. he would not need mans permission to do anything ……….

          • tatoo

            If Jesus was God, then why do Christians have to try so hard to get Jesus in classrooms and on courthouse lawns? And why do they whine over everything if it is god’s will that things turn out against them.

          • Amos Moses

            it is Gods will for it to turn things against us ….. and He said so ……..

  • Robert

    Every Christian could put that on their plate to because that is what we’re telling God every time we sin also.

  • Mr Cleats

    The poor old thing is obviously senile. That’s so sad to see the elderly behaving like children.

  • Steve Buckley

    Back in the early 90’s, my wife and I had a friend who is Italian. She had a license plate which said: NY DAGO.
    The local Sons of Italy community filed a complaint with the DMV and got her license plate revoked.
    That was at least 24 years ago.
    The guy is at least 24 years too late. If Italians can prevent Italians from keeping a license plate they already had, because some nitwit was offended, then what makes this guy think his rights are being violated?

    • Ambulance Chaser

      Because A) it most likely happened in a different state and B) involves a completely different set of circumstances. “God” is not an ethnic slur.

  • Biscuit

    The reason for the wickedness and destruction of the people was because “…the sons of God saw the beautiful women of the human race and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the Lord said “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time…In those days, and even afterward, giants lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with human women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes mentioned in the legends of old” Genesis 6:1-3.

  • http://www.gmail.com/ David van Heerden

    Why does he not do everyone a favour and smite the DMV with pestilence until they turn from their stubborn ways and acknowledge his divinity ? What’s this weak lawsuit rubbish? He doesn’t seem to be a very effective god. What? You say he already cursed the DMV with inefficiency?

  • Governmental Deception

    Well looky there the same idiots who wanted God banned from everywhere is getting their own demands smacked right back at them. Awwww. Guess what everything else we see being taken away from America is going to make its rounds, those who tore us apart are going to get their Karma.

  • james blue

    Plates should be for vehicle identification only. They should be plain clear to read and contain no messages. The only thing on a plate should be the ident numbers/letters and the issuing state.

    Everything else is a bumper sticker.

    No vanity plates, not “pro this or that” designs… just plain plates.

    • Amos Moses

      vanity plates are extra money for the issuer ……….. so my guess is that they will continue …..

      • james blue

        I’m sure they will, doesn’t mean I can’t express my views on them does it?

  • Reason2012

    As the left likes to say, hate speech is not protected.

    • Michael C

      As the left likes to say, hate speech is not protected.

      Who says that? The “left” says this?

      “Hate speech” is protected by the First Amendment.

      • Reason2012

        Not in every instance, like on a license plate for example. I’m sure you can think of some messages that should not be allowed on a license plate.

        • Michael C

          Nobody (including the state) can be forced to facilitate a person’s “hate speech” (whatever that term actually means).

          Just because the state won’t produce a license plate with certain words printed on it doesn’t mean that those words are “hate speech” or that an individual’s freedom of speech has been violated. An individual remains free to personally use those words or express those opinions in his or her own capacity without fear of punishment from the government.

          • Reason2012

            Nobody (including the state) can be forced to facilitate a person’s “hate speech” (whatever that term actually means).

            Bingo. Which is why this license plate is being denied. You know, just like “ImAllah” would be denied and would suddenly be easier for you to understand.

            Just because the state won’t produce a license plate with certain words printed on it doesn’t mean that those words are “hate speech”

            Who ever said it was? Lewd comments that are not hate speech would also be denied. You’re bringing up irrelevant points then refuting your own points.

            or that an individual’s freedom of speech has been violated.

            So now you get it. Glad you caught up with the conversation.

          • Michael C

            So now you get it. Glad you caught up with the conversation.

            You made the claim that “the left” believes that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the Constitution.

            I’ve been refuting that claim from the outset.

          • Michael C

            You know, just like “ImAllah” would be denied and would suddenly be easier for you to understand.

            It would get tricky if the state allowed some variation of the sentiment “Jesus is God” on a personalized plate. If they allow “Jesus is God,” they shouldn’t deny “I am God.”

          • Reason2012

            If they allow “Jesus is God,” they shouldn’t deny “I am God.”

            So if they allow “AllahisGod” they should allow “IAmAllah”? Of course not, because the second is a hateful, mocking statement, as is “IAmGod”.

          • Michael C

            “I am God” is not a hateful, mocking statement if it’s true.

            “Jesus is God” is not a hateful, mocking statement if it’s true.

            Neither statements can be proven either true or false, so neither are hateful or mocking.

          • Reason2012

            “I am God” is not a hateful, mocking statement if it’s true.

            Well as soon as he raises from being dead after three days, then he can have his license plate.

          • Ira Pistos

            @Michael-
            Your comment:
            “”I am God” is not a hateful, mocking statement if it’s true.

            “Jesus is God” is not a hateful, mocking statement if it’s true.

            Neither statements can be proven either true or false, so neither are hateful or mocking.”

            This is not merely a categorical error but is also a denial of plain reality.
            Leaving alone the question of proof, I submit that there is proof plenty but I’m not going to quibble with you over it. You’ve failed to recognize that the entire Christian church devoutly holds this to be true that Jesus is God and so I assure you they find the statement this grumpy fellow makes to repugnant and mocking.

            This man and his claim, to be compared to the Author of all creation is setting aside the rational in the pursuit of foolishness.

          • Michael C

            Objectively speaking, if one of these two statements is acceptable, the other is, as well.

          • Ira Pistos

            Only if you set aside reason. Having set aside reason, objectivity too has been discarded.

            One claim is nonsense while the other is vouched for by the weight of human experience as true.

            That mocking claim is as absurd as the case of a home owner with a backyard apple tree, claiming to be the source for all of the worlds apples.

            So long as neither poses a danger to others, they’ll be allowed to not be institutionalized.

          • tatoo

            Suppose Jesus applied for a license. Would it be true? Anyway, just because a lot of people believe it to be true, does not make it so. Without hard facts, it is just opinion.

          • Ira Pistos

            It’s tragic that you lack faith in Jesus as it is He who is your only hope in eternity.
            That’s irrelevant however to the point you miss, it’s irrelevant whether you think it true or not. The fact is that many millions do believe and on that point alone the mockery is abhorrent.

            Christians by the way do have the hard facts they require, so no, it’s not just opinion. That you reject the facts and have not experienced them does nothing to alter their reality.

          • Michael C

            If the phrase “I am God” is offensive to you, then the phrase “Jesus is God” has the same potential ability to be offensive to others.

            If you’re saying that the phrase “I am God” should not be permitted because you and your friends are offended by it, then a phrase like “Jesus is God” should also not be permitted because it may offend someone else.

            Your and your friends feeling aren’t the only ones that matter.

            Do you understand?

          • Ira Pistos

            Pronouncing that Jesus is God is highly offensive to all that reject Him. This is well established and irrelevant to the grumpy man’s intentional mockery.

            You continue to cling to your categorical error. There is no relationship between the two in the real world.

  • Palsgraf’s Scale

    Well its hardly obscene or vulgar.

    However, if the government of Kentucky holds license plate phrases to be government speech and not private speech, then this is a reasonable decision. I hope they apply the same logic to all religious or anti-religious plates. Somebody later mentioned that plates are for identification, and everything else should be a bumper sticker. I can’t find any fault in that assessment.

  • Steven

    Nobody’s been able to prove I’m not [God]
    I guess it’s all a matter of definitions.

    request for a specialty plate reading “I’m God” was denied.
    As a Christian, it doesn’t bother me in the least that he wants to do this. I say, let him have it! He’ll have a rude awakening when he stands before God.

    the individual requested plates that read ‘I’m Allah,’ ‘I’m Buddah’ or ‘I’m Satan.’”
    The interesting thing about atheists is that they attack soft targets whose adherents are ideologically bound to peace. Not too brave if you ask me. How about trying the “I’m Allah” license plate and drive through Dearborn, Mi during one of their festivals. Or better yet, find all these areas that have been accepting Muslim refugees and drive in those areas.

    • Reason2012

      It’s not because we’re soft targets. It’s because the world hates the truth and hence loves false religions, just like Jesus said they would.

      John 15:18-20 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

      It’s why 50 LGBT can be slaughtered here in America by someone following what islam / sharia law commands and the left doesn’t say a word about the murderous anti-homosexual bigotry of islam / sharia law that is practiced and consented to by countless MILLIONS of_islamists in 13 countries where LGBT are_killed almost daily, but instead rushes to defend_islam as the “religion of peace”. But a Christian dare not bake a cake for a same-gender anti-Christian wedding no matter who makes the request and you get death threats. The unsaved world proves what God’s truth is, and their own behavior makes them without excuse trying to claim “well how was I supposed to know?”.

      • johndoe

        More of your “I hate Islam rhetoric”. Yup, nobody said one word about all those slaughtered…riiiiight….. So if its not posted here then it didn’t happen? How absurd can you be?

        • Reason2012

          More of your “I hate Islam rhetoric”. Yup, nobody said one word about all those slaughtered…riiiiight….. So if its not posted here then it didn’t happen?

          Please cite your post anywhere, not just here, rebuking islam / shariah law for slaughtering yet again LGBT, specifically 50 of them on American soil. Yes, to you that 13 countries of millions of those following islam / shariah law consent to the_killing of LGBT almost daily is just “rhetoric”.

          In the end, your behavior is that of hating LGBT, being more interested in defending islam even though they_kill the LGBT you profess to care about, and raging over Christians that won’t bake certain cakes no matter who it is that makes the request.

          This while continuing to defend islam /shariah law in spite of their ideology leading to LGBT being_killed almost daily. It’s clear your pretense at caring for LGBT is due to your hate of Christianity, not any caring whatsoever for LGBT.

          • johndoe

            I have nevwr defended radical Islam anymore than I have defended pseudo christians like westboro. For some reason, you think that if it isnt posted on the net, a person couldn’t possibly have those feelings. You make yourself look foolish and bigoted.

          • Steven

            Point of Contention
            Radical Islam doesn’t exist. Groups like ISIS, Hamas, al-qaeda, PLO, hezbollah, etc,…are practicing what is written in the Qur’an and Hadiths; to a stated goal of a Sharia compliant world. Always was and always will be the practice of Islam.

            And although, Westboro does present scriptural texts to push a narrative of judgment against the sinful nature of man, their delivery goes outside the boundaries that were set in place by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

          • johndoe

            Nope. I have friends who are Islamic. Not radicals in the least. You’re wrong.

          • Codfish Ball

            Judging from your hate-filled posts, it’s pretty obvious you have no friends at all. Other than spewing your hate at Christians, you got nothing.

            Poor little angry atheists.

          • johndoe

            Nothing hateful in my posts. Typical christian who equates disagreement with hate.

          • Steven

            Not radicals in the least.
            You’re correct: they are not radical, they are moderate. Radical Islam doesn’t exist. Or they are practicing deception which is permissible in Islam.

          • johndoe

            Nope. Radical Islam does exist. Just your opinion

  • Amos Moses

    German Company Launches Line of ‘Atheist Shoes’

    • TheKingOfRhye

      Cool. I don’t know how that has anything to do with this story, but that’s kinda cool.

      • Amos Moses

        Just something i came across ………..

  • Liberal Elitist

    I applaud his courageous stand … especially in Kentucky. May he and his family remain safe from harm.

    • Amos Moses

      Got news for you ….. if he were God ….. he would not need mans permission to do anything …….

  • Becky

    “Nobody’s been able to prove I’m not [God] and I can’t prove I am,” By Ben Hart the heathen.

    Complete rubbish. Hart the heathen has indubitably proven that he’s a fool.

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1

  • Amos Moses

    God does not need mans permission to do anything ……

  • Codfish Ball

    Several years ago, Florida started issuing plates (for an additional fee) with the words CHOOSE LIFE, and crayon drawings of two kids. The liberals went absolutely ballistic. The end result was that the Choose Life tags became even more popular.