A non-theistic religious organization called the Satanic Temple is threatening to sue Mississippi if the state moves forward with its plan to include the words “In God We Trust” on the new state flag.
A letter sent by the Satanic Temple to Attorney General Lynn Fitch cites constitutional concerns regarding the First Amendment, saying the phrase “In God We Trust” is not representative of all Mississippians.
“While the Satanic Temple supports the removal of the Confederate flag, removing one divisive symbol of exclusion only to replace it with a divisive phrase of exclusion does not eliminate exclusion, but rather moves it from one group to a collection of others,” states the letter sent to Fitch.
For comparison, the letter points out that including the words “In Satan We Trust” on the flag would likewise cause Christians to “be a bit put off.”
“If you can imagine that, then you might imagine how atheists, Satanists, and other people of non-theistic faiths could feel excluded by the addition of ‘In God We Trust’ to the state flag,” states the letter.
The demands from the Satanic Temple come just one week after state lawmakers officially retired the Mississippi state flag of 1894, which included a Confederate battle flag on it. In retiring the flag, Gov. Tate Reeves signed a law stating that the new flag’s design must include the words “In God We Trust” on it and cannot include any confederate imagery.
“We can not allow opportunistic politicians to insist on collapsing the wall of separation between Church and State as a consolation for the removal of Confederate iconography,” TST spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, states. “They are not being given a choice of whom they can marginalize next.”
In O’Hair v. Blumenthal, the court noted that language in Supreme Court cases indicates that the national motto, and its use on coin and currency, does not infringe on First Amendment rights. Despite that ruling, the Satanic Temple said it will proceed with a lawsuit against the state, saying they are aware of the prior court ruling but believe it is distinguishable from the case they intend to make.
“The Satanic Temple is fully dedicated to preserving Religious Liberty, and that includes the rights of non-believers and believers of alternative faiths to live free of government coercion or sanction related to their personal religious opinions,” Greaves said. “To us, this is no small matter.”
Designs for the new state flag will be presented to legislators by Sept. 14, then voters will decide in November which design they like the most.
Mississippi’s state seal also includes the words “In God We Trust”.