News & Blog

NJ Commission Reverses Decision on Atheist License Plate

Cranford, NJ—As public backlash was growing, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission reversed its decision on Wednesday, approving American Atheists President David Silverman’s application for custom license plates reading “ATHE1ST.”  American Atheists, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a national non-profit dedicated to fighting discrimination against atheists.

On Monday, Silverman received a rejection email from the Commission concerning his application. It stated, “Reason for denial: Objectionable or Need Clarification.” When Silverman called to offer this clarification, he was told by a Commission official that his proposed plates were “offensive.”

“There was absolutely no reason that this plate should be denied; this is outrageously discriminatory,” said David Silverman. “There is nothing offensive about atheism or atheists. The state of New Jersey had no right to deem this ‘offensive’ as though it was their place to do so.”

Per Commission procedure, Silverman submitted a letter of appeal. Word quickly spread through social media, and traditional media quickly picked up on the story. A PDF of Silverman’s appeal letter, and the rejection email, are available here.

A reporter early Wednesday afternoon contacted Silverman to tell him that his application had been approved, and soon afterward a spokesperson from the Commission called to confirm it.

Once he receives the plates, Silverman plans to bring one with him to American Atheists’ 2014 National Convention in Salt Lake City, where American Atheists members will be able to take pictures with it.

American Atheists’ 40th Annual National Convention will feature such speakers such as NFL Oakland Raiders Chris Kluwe, Survivor®: Philippines grand prizewinner Denise Stapley, Grammy-winning Spin Doctors bass player Mark White, Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims, popular bloggers PZ Myers and Greta Christina, and American Atheists President David Silverman. The convention will also feature a costume party, live music, stand-up comedy, an art show and silent auction, national and local exhibitors, and childcare options for attending families. The convention takes place the the weekend of April 17-20, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402


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