Sitting in the carpool lane at the public elementary school, I could not help but notice the vanity plate in front of me. It was a Texas plate with a simple message: ATHEIST.

I did not know whether to be appalled or impressed, but I settled somewhere in between. Truth be known, carrying that self-description around on your car in the Bible Belt probably brings on about as much ridicule and hatred as wearing a head tunic.

Photo by tanmanprds on

Most Texans see only black and white. You are one of us, or you are one of them. You are Texan or you are an outsider. You are Caucasian or you are “other.” You are Christian or are you “wrong.”

Please understand, I am not saying this about all Texans, but the vast majority of the good ol’ boys still have this mentality at their root.

But this dad who was picking up his child from the school had chosen to stand firmly on his faith that there is no god.

I, personally, do not agree with that statement, but to him, his belief was so deep that he wanted the world to understand that principle before they even had the chance to meet the man who carried it.

But isn’t that what Christians do too?

Christians wear t-shirts, adorn their cars with fish symbols, set statues of the Virgin Mary on their dash, and clutter their walls with crosses and scripture. They collect dusty Bibles with their name engraved in gold leaf. They wear WWJD bracelets while diamond-cluttered crucifixes hang around their necks. They send their kids to school with tracts and beaded bracelets to win their lost friends to Christ.

Yet this man stood tall amid the “Get the right or get left” bumper stickers and firmly announced his belief in non-belief.

Who am I to judge that?

Shock value? Perhaps. Gutsy? Absolutely.

And I, for one, respect that.

I respect anyone who stands that firmly in their faith (or lack there of). It reveals something about one’s heart to know that they have done some pondering and soul-searching and rather than claiming the popular beliefs of those around them, they have selected an alternative faith core.

I would be proud to have that man and his family at my dinner table, not to convert him, but to listen to him. I am guessing he has a lot of wisdom to share.

While a lot of people will think me liberal and perhaps even back-slidden, that ATHEIST plate put a smile on my face today.