Washington, D.C. – A federal court in Mississippi has been asked to determine whether the inclusion of the words “In God We Trust” on automobile license plates violates the constitutional protections against the establishment of an official state religion.

In a suit filed Tuesday, three state residents along with the group American Atheists, the Mississippi Humanist Association, and other organizations argued the state’s Commission of Revenue is “violating non-religious people’s freedoms of speech and religion” and “forcing them to display” what is effectively a religious message on their own cars and trucks.

“No state may force a person to be a mouthpiece for the government’s preferred message,” the complaint says. “This freedom from compelled speech is a foundational tenet of American society. Yet the State of Mississippi demands exactly that from every single car owner in the state. In so doing, the state is violating nearly a century of settled First Amendment law.”

Since 2019, the standard-issue Mississippi license plate has featured an image of the state seal – which includes the words “In God We Trust” — in the background. For an additional $33 per year, the state will issue a plate without the seal as a “Paid Specialty Tag.” Some drivers, including those with certain kinds of disabilities as well as the owners and operates of RVs, trailers, and motorcycles may not be purchase alternative plates on which the seal does not appear. All this has the anti-religion groups crying foul.

“Wherever I use my trailer, I am forced to profess a religious idea that I do not believe,” plaintiff Jason Alan Griggs said. “Imagine a Christian having to drive around with ‘In No God We Trust’ or ‘In Allah We Trust.’”

In their suit, the plaintiffs are asking the court to order the state to offer a plate without the seal and thus, without the motto at no additional cost. Geoffrey T. Blackwell, counsel for the American Atheists organization, called the extra fee “a penalty” and said the plate’s current design forced non-believers “

to act as a billboard for the state’s religious message.

Responding to the suit via Twitter, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves expressed his intention to defend the plate’s current design. “I know Mississippi’s values are our strength,” he said, “and I meant it when I said as Governor, I would defend our values every single day! I will defend ‘In God We Trust’ on our tag, on our flag, and on our state seal…. Every. Single. Day,”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AmericanActionNews.com

Peter Roff is affiliated with several Washington, D.C. public policy organizations and is a former U.S. News and World Report contributing editor who appears regularly as a commentator on the One America News network. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

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Dan Tyree
Dan Tyree
5 months ago

The people in Mississippi should sue the atheists for trying to stop them from expressing their faith I also know that the American atheist society supports and endorsed the commiecrats

5 months ago

This country is UNDER GOD!!!!!!

5 months ago
Reply to  Mary

At the time, 1956 when the ‘religious’ put the little thing in the pledge of allegiance
‘under god’ the USA was the greatest nation ever in existence.
When my grandparents came to the USA, they abandoned their failed
nation, their failed culture, the failed religion, the failed neighbors.
They then became AMERICANS!

As a result, my religion is the USA. My holy book
is the Constitution— All of the Constitution! I left the fairy tales in the past!

5 months ago

Don’t like it? Move to NY, or any other state you wish. There is nothing in the constitution that says separation of church and state. It does say that CONGRESS may not impose a state sponsored religion. There is no state sponsored religion. Your god can be whatever you wish. You’re god might not be my God. Your god might be the sun, my God is not. So, the statement “In God We Trust” is not state sponsored religion, but rather a statement that accepts that you trust in your God, whatever it is. Money could be your god for all I know.