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American Atheists Sues Mississippi Over “In God We Trust” License Plates

Monday 5 July 2021, by siawi3


American Atheists Sues Mississippi Over “In God We Trust” License Plates

The lawsuit seeks a free alternative for Mississippians who object to displaying a religious message on their personal vehicles.

On June 22, 2021, American Atheists filed a lawsuit against Mississippi over the state’s “In God We Trust” license plate, the standard plate since 2019.

American Atheists is joined by the Mississippi Humanist Association and three nonreligious Mississippi residents in this litigation.

The complaint accuses the Mississippi Commissioner of Revenue of violating nonreligious people’s freedoms of speech and religion by forcing them to display this religious message on their private property.

American Atheists demands that Mississippi offer an alternative license plate at no additional fee.
Photo:This controversial “In God We Trust” design became Mississippi’s standard license plate in January 2019, replacing the blue guitar design.

“In God We Trust” in Mississippi

Mississippi politicians have been forcing “In God We Trust” messaging onto more and more people, and they have been clear that their reason for doing so is religious.

In 2014, then-state Senator Michael Watson, Jr., proposed adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal by amending the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act through Senate Bill 2681. In 2020, Watson, now the Mississippi Secretary of State, explained his motivation to Magee News: “This phrase signals Mississippi’s allegiance to God as well as our country.”

In January 2014, then-Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves praised the state Senate’s vote to put “In God We Trust” on the state seal; he claimed on Facebook that “Mississippians have a strong faith in God,” a statement that excludes Mississippi atheists and non-Christians.

In April 2014, then-Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2681 into law. Following the adoption of the new seal, Phil Bryant said in his 2015 State of the State speech, “[B]y simply adding our national motto to the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi, we professed our understanding of a higher power over the affairs of men. We expressed a faith that this wonderful state will continue to be blessed. Let us now and forever boldly and without apology affirm, ‘In God we trust.’”

In January 2019, Mississippi added “In God We Trust” to the standard license plate. In his election campaign for governor, Reeves campaigned on the “In God We Trust” message, boasting about the new license plate and affixing one to a vehicle in a 2019 commercial titled “In God We Trust.” In the video, Reeves equates “In God We Trust” with “Mississippi’s values,” insinuating that only Christians are real Mississippians.

“In God We Trust” only became the national motto in 1956. However, it has long been used to show hostility toward atheists and religious minorities. Find outthe discriminatory history of “In God We Trust.”