Humanist group objects to 'In God We Trust' license plate

The new state license plates were unveiled in 2018 and were put into circulation earlier this year.

Posted: Apr 4, 2019 3:20 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2019 11:03 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A national group that includes atheists and agnostics is objecting to Mississippi's new standard license plate design that has the phrase "In God We Trust."

The American Humanist Association sent a letter Thursday to the state's revenue commissioner and attorney general. It demands that Mississippi either set a new standard license plate design without a religious phrase or allow people to get another license plate design without paying an extra fee.

The association says it could sue Mississippi if the change is not made.

"Mississippi's law violates the First Amendment rights of atheists in accordance with firmly settled Supreme Court precedent," American Humanist Association attorney Monica Miller said in a news release. "The Supreme Court has made clear that the state cannot force motorists to display an ideological message they deem unacceptable on their license plates."

Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson said Thursday he's asking lawyers to review the letter. Frierson said the design was chosen by a commission that included representatives from the governor's office, the state Department of Revenue, the attorney general's office and the treasurer's office.

The new standard license plate has been sold since January. The center shows the state seal, which includes "In God We Trust."

Mississippi offers several specialty license plate designs for $30 extra per year.

The American Humanist Association's letter to Mississippi officials cites a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a dispute over the phrase "Live Free or Die" on New Hampshire's standard license plate. People who were Jehovah's Witnesses sued the state, saying the phrase was "repugnant to their moral, religious and political beliefs."

The Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot force a person, as part of daily life, to display a phrase that violates their beliefs. Justices said the First Amendment protects "both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 812694

Reported Deaths: 15142
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139601904
Mobile721751321
Madison51923685
Shelby37240339
Baldwin37044538
Tuscaloosa34902599
Montgomery33919719
Lee23122240
Calhoun22125469
Morgan20620370
Etowah19739496
Marshall18238298
Houston17288405
St. Clair15897337
Cullman15297290
Limestone15178198
Elmore15038284
Lauderdale14125294
Talladega13692271
DeKalb12554258
Walker11069364
Blount10081174
Autauga9883146
Jackson9776177
Coffee9176188
Dale8856180
Colbert8781200
Tallapoosa7032195
Escambia6725127
Covington6672179
Chilton6580160
Russell624758
Franklin5927105
Chambers5558142
Marion4952126
Dallas4854199
Clarke472681
Pike4716105
Geneva4558126
Winston4461101
Lawrence4252117
Bibb421686
Barbour355374
Marengo333989
Monroe329962
Randolph324763
Butler323994
Pickens313581
Henry310565
Hale308787
Cherokee299457
Fayette290579
Washington250851
Cleburne245958
Crenshaw243375
Clay239767
Macon230662
Lamar215446
Conecuh185351
Coosa177738
Lowndes173161
Wilcox167038
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125544
Choctaw86627
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