Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Our license plates are infringing on our freedom


Being an Oklahoman is pretty cool. We have a very interesting history, crazy weather, and no matter how bad things get, at least we’re not Florida. Plus, we have a pretty rich Native American history, so much so that my out-of-state cousins think I live in a teepee. We’ve got a lot of symbols, statues and unfinished heritage centers that come from our Native American history and traditions.

Well, it looks like that Native American culture got us in a little trouble. Via NewsOK:

DENVER — An appeals court gave new life Tuesday to a lawsuit of a Bethany pastor who claims an American Indian image on Oklahoma’s standard license plates violates his religious rights as a Christian.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that a judge in Oklahoma City erred by throwing out the lawsuit of Keith Cressman, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Bethany.

Cressman objects to the image of an American Indian shooting an arrow toward the sky to bring down rain.

He claims the image unconstitutionally contradicts his Christian beliefs by depicting Indian religious beliefs, and that he shouldn’t have to display the image.

The appellate judges stated Oklahoma law imposes sanctions for covering up the image, and the state charges more for specialty plates without it.

His lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City seeks a court order allowing him either to cover up the image on his plates or to get a personalized plate for the same cost as a standard license plate.

Well. So there’s that. I’m sure this dude is doing this solely to prove a point, though said point would have a bigger impact if he were to argue about, oh, I don’t know, maybe the Ten Commandments appearing in a public place. But whatever. The Christians are being oppressed by license plates, so it’s really important that we take this to the courts.

But surely there are other symbols and statues that offend? We are a state of many symbols. And in order to prevent any further hullabaloo regarding representations of things that could potentially infringe on freedoms, I went ahead and made a list of various statues from around the state that don’t jive with my beliefs, and thus shouldn’t be pictorially depicted on license plates.

Here they are:

Pioneer woman

The Pioneer Woman

If we’re going to put a pioneer woman on our license plates, I want it to be the blogger and not the statue. It’s 2013, and a lady in a bonnet is just irrelevant at this point.


The Devon Tower

I know I’m not the only one that thinks of this as just a big ol’ phallic symbol. Next to parking, the thing I struggle with in Downtown the most is not spontaneously starting a round of the penis game with some strangers every time I see this.


The Pop’s soda bottle

I like soda as much as anyone, but the fact is that we’re kind of fat and probably need to lay off the soda for a while. Therefore, unless Pop’s also has a giant water bottle, we probably can’t let them be the symbol that represents us.


The Infant Jesus of Prague

I only pray to the 30ish-year old Jesus that ran around with Mary Magdalene. I don’t trust a baby with my prayers, nor will I entrust my license plate to him.


The Catoosa Whale

If we’re going to be represented by a sea mammal that does not reside in our state, it’s going to be a manatee, and that’s final.

Follow Marisa on Twitter @GentleMarisa.


    • So is his church covering the court costs? They could’ve used that money to help the poor or to help storm victims. This is a rather pathetic and self-centered move. I don’t think Jesus would be impressed.

  1. He is correct, he does not have to display the image. Solution is simple just don’t own a car tagged in Oklahoma.

    • But I’d rather not look at the back of his trailer and see “NOBAMA” or “ABORTION=HELL” either.

  2. I’m not sure the plate even violates the Lemon test. If most Oklahomans don’t even know it’s a religious symbol, then the plate’s primary effect “neither advances nor inhibits religion” and doesn’t result in “excessive government entanglement with religion.” And the thing has a “secular legislative purpose:” acknowledging Oklahoma’s involvement with Native America’s history. If the Supreme Court says some 10 Commandment displays can be kept on the grounds of historical importance (see ACLU v. McCreary County and Van Orden v. Perry), then there should be no problem with a statue of a Native American.

  3. The state should compromise and issue him a free theme plate of his choice, and then assign him the tag number 666.

  4. The really disturbing part is that this guy is a methodist minister in the godly city of Bethany. Good thing he’s not wasting his time feeding the hungry or helping widows.

  5. Whew! I guess we can blame the Native American archer for the excessive recent rains and let the praying Christians off the hook.

  6. Jesus. Just give the guy a free personalized license plate, and save the State all those legal fees. I suggest H8INJUNS

  7. He should have expended his energy into making the state go to a multi-year registration system instead of this once a year crap that’s so flippin’ antiquated.

    Better yet, Pastor Quixote, pester the state into not making us pay the yearly registration fee for both a vanity plate AND a regular plate, when we have no intention on using the regular plate!

    I feel better, thank you.

  8. Yay! I’m not the only one who says, “There’s the big dick!” when I see the Devon tower. #ThoughtIwasAlone

  9. I wanted either a toll booth or a slot machine on our state quarter, maybe we will get the chance to see one of those images on our license plates.

  10. I thought it depicted a traditional bravery/faith test of some native populations where they shot an arrow straight into the air with the faith that the creator would keep them safe. There is a cool statue on the UA Fayetteville campus depicting this. I don’t remember the tribe it referenced.

    What is ironic on this is that I’ve heard a few people categorize our state tag on the same level as the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins mascots. I guess, much like OU/OSU/TLO revile Traber, all sides of this issue have issues with the American Indian imagry. I’m enough caucasian (and raised in small town Oklahoma) to not be offended by any of this, but, enough Indian to have the ability to defer to those who are offended. In my experience, Oklahoma Indians don’t care too much about these issues. Indians that live in other areas, who, generally speaking, grew up in more secluded areas such as reservations have a different perspective. I defer to their point of view.

    I’m more offended that a METHODIST minister is doing this. This is very unlike MY denomination. This is more of a conservative/evangelical move.

  11. You’d choose a random manatee over The Catoosa Whale? Look at him up there, all prettily restored and happy! Team Catoosa Whale!

  12. I’m an atheist, but I’ll say this….he has a valid point. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The ACLU should be on this like stink on shite.

  13. Although this dude is making some kind of crackpot religious argument, this has nothing to do with the Lemon test (for the Establishment clause) or with the various 10 Commandment cases (also Establishment issues). It does, however, very closely mirror Wooley v. Maynard–the case that held someone didn’t have to display New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” motto on his license plate. As long as the Court concludes that the image of the Indian shooting the arrow is speech (which is almost certainly is), then that speech can’t be compelled by forcing someone to advertise such speech on his personal property under the penalty of law. You have the right to not speak. The guy will probably win this one. Maybe we should just go back to our old proud slogan of mediocrity, “Oklahoma is OK.” I am also shocked that this guy is a Methodist. I could see Derplahoman pastor-extraordinaire Paul Blair doing this, but a Methodist?

  14. I wish we could stop calling Native Americans Indians or even American Indians because Indians are from India.

    • You should’ve made that speech several centuries ago. You’re a little too late to be making that speech now!

    • In my experience, first Americans prefer to be referred to as Indians.

      Canadians use that term.

    • Indians are from India and “Native” Americans are from Russia. Damn you commies and your land bridges!

  15. I thought the guy on the license plate was Jesus. You know, from that story in the Bible where Jesus shot an arrow into the giant Goliath’s eyeball.

    More importantly, when do we get “In god we trust” taken off our moolah?

  16. I shot an arrow into the air…it fell to earth I know not where…
    but hopefully on a Methodist church in Bethany.

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