Guy Sues Okla. Over 'Rain God' License Plates

Says Native American image offends his Christian values

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 16, 2013 12:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – Oklahoma's license plate—which shows an Apache warrior with his arrow aimed skyward in a plea for rain—was a hit with the public, tourism officials, and even named best in the nation by a collectors' group. So of course there's a lawsuit involved: As the AP reports, Methodist minister Keith Cressman is suing, claiming that the plates offend his Christian values, and an appeals court has ruled that the case can go ahead. "I think it's important to understand that whether it was a Native American symbol or a symbol of any other faith, the issue would be the same," says Cressman.

"He simply wants to avoid placing the tag with the objectionable image on his car," adds Cressman's lawyer, who says his client isn't looking to take the 2.9 million plates out of circulation, so much as make the state offer up an alternative so that "he would not have to be a mobile billboard for the state's message against his will." Alternatives exist, the AP notes, but not without additional cost. But Cressman is trying too hard to be offended, says one critic. He's “missing the point that it symbolizes Native American culture and history and I don’t think it’s making some kind of exclusive statement about religion or worship. The piece isn't worshipping a rain god."

The standard Oklahoma license plate depicts Allan Houser's Sacred Rain Arrow bronze sculpture. A minister was unimpressed and sued.
The standard Oklahoma license plate depicts Allan Houser's "Sacred Rain Arrow" bronze sculpture. A minister was unimpressed and sued.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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