After more than three years of fighting a lawsuit, FFRF Member Ben Hart finally got his “IM GOD” license plate in Kentucky.
In 2016, he was denied those plates by the Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles because the phrase was deemed “obscene or vulgar.” So, Hart, backed by FFRF and the ACLU of Kentucky, filed a lawsuit. A federal court ruled in November that Hart could apply for the personalized plates.
He received his new Kentucky plates on Jan. 22.
“They made me go to the courthouse to pick it up,” Hart said recently on FFRF’s “Freethought Radio” program.
Hart, while previously living in Ohio, had “IM GOD” plates on his vehicle and said there was no issue getting them there, unlike in Kentucky.
“I did it originally just as a lark,” he said on the radio show. “I got it from Ohio, no problem at all. I had it for about 12 years. . . . In Ohio, I got my plates that said ‘IM GOD,’ and a year or two later, the state came out with the slogan “One Nation Under God” on the plates. I thought, I gotta have that one!”
So, on his Ohio plates, the “IM GOD” was printed just above “One Nation Under God.” Hart enjoyed the irony so much, he made sure that there was a similar tweak to religion on his Kentucky plates, asking for one of the state’s specialty plates.
“I saw that it didn’t have ‘In God We Trust’ on it, so I had them make it over again.”
The court ruled on Feb. 10 that the state must pay more than $150,000 in lawyer’s fees to FFRF and ACLU-Kentucky.
Hart will be honored in November at FFRF’s convention in San Antonio as one of its Freethinkers of the Year.
“I’m thankful to finally have the same opportunity to select a personal message for my license plate just as any other driver,” Hart said after the lawsuit was ruled in his favor.
When asked on the radio show about repercussions of having that plate, Hart said it’s been pretty civil.
“I had very few negative reactions, mostly no reactions,” he replied.
“After we retired, we happened to be in Texas and some lady came up to me and said, ‘Well, you’re not God.’ I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ve got a $100 bill in my pocket if you can prove that I’m not.’ She stammers and says, ‘Well, I can’t prove it, but you’re not God.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll keep my $100 then.’”
Hart said he has been interviewed for TV, radio and newspapers, including by media outlets as far-flung as Australia and Thailand.
“I have the most famous license plate in the world,” he quipped.