Pastor's Protest of Apache 'Rain God' License Plate Wins Second Hearing

Oklahoma pastor says legendary image of arrow-shooting Native American forces him to promote another religion. Tenth Circuit agrees he may have a point.

An Oklahoma pastor has been fighting his state's new license plate, arguing that its Native American theme violates his religious freedom. It's an argument that deserves consideration, according to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in an interesting twist on the longstanding debate over religious images and phrases on state license plates.

For those not familiar with the backstory, the image of a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky on Oklahoma's standard license plate might seem to constitute a simple nod to state history.

But pastor Keith Cressman of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma, recognizes that the image alludes to an Apache legend in which the bow and arrow were divinely granted the ability to end a drought. So for Cressman, the state's use of the image on its standard plate violates his religious expression by forcing him to promote another religion's beliefs.

Cressman's suit, initially dismissed by a district judge, has been granted a rehearing by ...

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