Atheists Sue State of Mississippi over “In God We Trust” License Plate

Jackson, Mississippi - The Mississippi Humanist Association, the American Atheists, and three Mississippi residents filed a lawsuit on June 22, 2021. The case is against the State of Mississippi over the lack of an alternative that has no extra costs to its license plates that bear the phrase, "In God We Trust." 

The primary argument on the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Jackson, Mississippi, is not against the state motto nor the state seal. Instead, it revolves around the fact that non-Christian and non-religious drivers are forced to display a language they do not believe in.

The lawsuit also highlights the lack of a free alternative for specialty plates that do not display the phrase "In God, We Trust." Accusing the Commissioner of Revenue of violating the people's freedom of speech—pressing drivers and vehicle owners to display a message that they are against or do not support, thereby violating their First Amendment right.

The then Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, who was charging the "out-of-state liberals" for threatening Mississippi and its values over the phrase, "In God, We Trust" in the license plates, has reaffirmed his support for his political selling point, this time as the governor of Mississippi.

Ocean Springs Mississippi attorney, Dianne Ellis stated that vehicle owners do not deserve to be penalized with additional fees for wanting not to display an "exclusionary and divisive message."

Jason Alan Griggs, an atheist and a secular humanist, is one of the plaintiffs. He disputed Reeves's claim that out-of-state liberals are attacking the values of Mississippi, stating that he has been a resident of the state for the past 14 years and has been teaching at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Saying, "We are local Mississippians."

Kim Gibson, another plaintiff, and an atheist-humanist states that he is not one of the "we" in the phrase "In God, We Trust." 

Another plaintiff, Derenda Hancock, sees herself as a radical atheist who decries having to advertise a god that does not exist.

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