Being an atheist is no longer “offensive” in New Jersey.
Shannon Morgan can now display her values publicly with a license plate reading “8theist” following a ruling from the New Jersey District Court. She requested the vanity plate in 2014, but the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission denied it on the grounds that it “may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”
Morgan then completed another application through the online system requesting plates that say “BAPTIST,” which was accepted.
New Jersey said that the initial rejection of the 8THEIST plate was an error, but Morgan still brought a suit against the state for violating her First Amendment rights.
“All Shannon Morgan ever wanted was for the state of New Jersey to stop disparaging her non-belief and cease treating her like a second-class citizen,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the religious freedom advocacy group that helped Morgan bring the suit. “The lesson of this case is simple: The government should treat believers and non-believers equally.”
Morgan will be awareded $75,000 from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Under the terms of the settlement, it will also be required to issue vanity places with similarly potentially controversial views: SECULAR, RATIONL, HUMANST, ATHEISM, GODLESS, HEATHEN, HERETIC, SKEPTIC, BLASFMR, REASON, EVOLVE, TRANS, LGBTR.TS, LGBTQ, PRIDE, QUEER, GAYPOWR, LGBTALY, FEMINISM, FEMINST, EQUALITY and 4WOMEN.