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Atheists sue Mississippi over “In...

Atheists sue Mississippi over “In God We Trust” license plates

By: Frank Corder - June 22, 2021

Group seeks free alternative to state normal state issued tag.

According to American Atheists, they have filed a lawsuit against Mississippi over the state’s “In God We Trust” license plates, the standard vehicle license plate since 2019. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, demands that the state government offer an alternative license plate at no additional fee.

On their website, American Atheists state that, “‘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.”

American Atheists is joined by the Mississippi Humanist Association and three nonreligious Mississippi residents in this litigation. The individuals listed as plaintiffs on their website include Jason Alan Griggs, Kim Gibson, and Derenda Hancock.

Their 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’ lawsuit does not challenge the constitutionality of the national motto or the current Seal of the State of Mississippi,” the group states. “Numerous legal challenges, including one in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by American Atheists’ founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair (O’Hair v. Blumenthal) in 1979, were unsuccessful. American Atheists lawsuit, instead, challenges the constitutionality of forcing certain drivers to display this religious message and penalizing others if they choose not to.”

American Atheists use Governor Tate Reeves’ 2019 campaign ad titled “In God We Trust” in their public argument related to the legal challenge.

“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,” the group writes.

On learning of the lawsuit, Governor Reeves doubled down on his support for the license plate’s wording, tweeting, “I know Mississippi’s values are our strength…and I meant it when I said as Governor I would defend our values every single day!”

Attorney General Lynn Fitch told Y’all Politics she was prepared to defend the state.

“We are reviewing the complaint, and we look forward to defending Mississippi’s law against special interest professional litigators,” Fitch said.

Read the filing for yourself below.

Atheist Complaint by yallpolitics on Scribd

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: