Letter to state attorney general says national motto does not represent all citizens
he Satanic Temple has threatened to sue Mississippi over plans to include the phrase “In God We Trust” on its flag.
In a letter addressed to state attorney general Lynn Fitch the Temple argued that not all Mississippians were represented by the phrase, which is the US national motto.
Last week politicians approved proposals to retire the 1894 Mississippi state flag, which had been adorned with the Confederate battle emblem, amid nationwide demonstrations against institutionalised racism.
Under the measure passed last week, governor Tate Reeves compelled state authorities to include the “In God We Trust” message in any new design. A commission is being set up to create that new version.
The eventual, revised flag is not permitted to include Confederate symbols, which are seen to celebrate racism. Voters will be asked to approve a new flag later this year.
The Satanic Temple, which welcomed the decision to scrap the old flag, complained that the phrase “In God We Trust” was also divisive.
“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,” it said.
The words “In Satan We Trust”, the Satanists argued by way of comparison, would likely cause other groups 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,” added the Temple.
The Supreme Court previously ruled in a similar case that the national motto on currency does not contravene secular principles contained in the first amendment to the constitution, but Randazza Legal Group, acting for the Temple, said it believed the facts were sufficiently different to allow a new challenge.
Mississippi lawmakers will produce design proposals for a new flag in September, which will then be put to a public vote in November.