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Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Washington state allows "John316" vanity plate

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Vanity may be a sin, but a Christian message on vanity license plates is OK with the state of Washington.

The Department of Licensing today dismissed a complaint against a vanity plate imprinted with "JOHN316."

The plate refers to the verse in the New Testament that says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

"The plate is not offensive under our rules and was never in danger of being canceled," said Licensing Department Director Liz Luce said.

Meanwhile in Vermont, Shawn Byrne of Rutland is suing the state after it rejected his bid for a "JOHN316" vanity plate. State attorneys contend the license plate would amount to a state endorsement of religion.

In Washington state someone filed a complaint about the plate in April, and the department's vanity plate review committee called an early meeting to deal with it because of the public interest. The department did not identify the owner of the plate or the person who complained.

"This was just a routine, procedural review required by policy," Luce said.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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