Atheists claim Mississippi’s ‘In God We Trust’ state license plate is unconstitutional

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Three atheists have filed suit in a federal court, asserting it is unconstitutional for Mississippi to force all vehicle owners to drive with new state license plates displaying the words ‘In God We Trust,’ or pay a fee for an alternative design, Mississippi Free Press reported. Mississippi began issuing the new plates in 2019, five years after the idea was introduced by Republican lawmakers.

The case was filed against the Mississippi Commissioner of Revenue in the US District Court for the South District of Mississippi in Jackson on June 22, MFP reports. The plaintiffs claim their First Amendment rights to be free from religion is being violated through the license plate requirement.

According to the suit, the complaint is not that any state license plates carry the words ‘In God We Trust,’ but that all state residents should have to display them, or pay a price. “This is an action challenging the statutes, rules, policies, practices and customs enforced by Defendant Chris Graham, as the Commissioner of Revenue, that together require Mississippi’s nonreligious drivers to display the government’s preferred ideological, religious message on their vehicles or, if they refuse to do so, pay higher fees to legally drive their vehicles,” the complaint says.

The plaintiffs want to have the option of a different license-plate design at no extra charge, MFP said.

Announcing in 2014 that he wanted to change the state seal to ‘In God We Trust, then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryan said: “I continue to believe this is the right time to stand for our beliefs—our faith, our families and our nation. To strengthen our resolve, I have asked that we take a bold step for God and country.”

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