Atheists Sue Mississippi Over New 'In God We Trust' License Plates

Atheists Sue Mississippi Over New 'In God We Trust' License Plates

Mississippi is facing a lawsuit from a group of atheists because of the southern state's new license plates featuring the phrase "In God We Trust."

According to Faithwire, the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against the state's commissioner of revenue, Chris Graham, by several Mississippi residents along with the Mississippi Humanist Association and American Atheists.

Jason Alan Griggs, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, criticized the license plate design because he is "forced to profess a religious idea that I do not believe" whenever he uses his trailer.

"Imagine a Christian having to drive around with 'In No God We Trust' or 'In Allah We Trust,'" he added.

Derenda Hancock, a self-described "radical atheist," argued in the court filing that the government has no right to infringe on "her right to be free from religion."

In 2019, when the new license plates were adopted, Hancock reportedly told a state agent, "I don't want Jesus riding on my car," as she applied for a specialty "Mississippi Blues Trail" plate, which required a $2 fee.

Hancock would go on to do the same thing in 2020.

Geoffrey Blackwell, an attorney for American Atheists, argued that the license plates stigmatize atheists as it coerces them to comply with "the state's religious message."

"Every minute they spend on the streets of Mississippi, atheists are forced to act as a billboard for the state's religious message," he said. "Some can avoid being a mouthpiece for the government by paying a penalty. For many others, even that isn't possible. Atheists with a disability or a special category vehicle are stuck proclaiming a belief in the Christian God. It's an abuse of power and unconstitutional."

Furthermore, the group contended that the slogan — which has been the official U.S. motto since 1956 and has been featured on currency since 1864— is "rooted in deep hostility toward atheists."

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Milton QuintanillaMilton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.