It seems that “In God We Trust” is offensive. See Daily Journal’s full article.
Agnostics and Atheists belonging to a national group known as The American Humanist Association is threatening to sue the state of Mississippi.
They are using a ruling from 1977 where U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a dispute over the phrase, “Live Free or Die”, on a New Hampshire’s license plate.
In the New Hampshire suit, A Jehovah Witness and his wife sued the state, saying the phrase was “repugnant to their moral, religious and political beliefs.”
The Supreme Court ruled:
a) New Hampshire’s statute, by forcing an individual, as part of his daily life — indeed, constantly while his automobile is in public view — to be an instrument for advocating public adherence to an ideological point of view he finds unacceptable, “invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment . . . to reserve from all official control,” Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 319 U. S. 642. Pp. 430 U. S. 714-715.
(b) The State’s claimed interests in requiring display of the state motto on license plates (1) so as to facilitate the identification of passenger vehicles, and (2) so as to promote appreciation of history, individualism, and state pride, are not sufficiently compelling to justify infringement of appellees’ First Amendment rights. The purpose of the first interest could be achieved by less drastic means, and the second interest cannot outweigh an individual’s First Amendment right to avoid becoming the courier for the State’s ideological message. Pp. 430 U. S. 715-717.
Chief Justice C.J. Burger issued an opinion in this hearing. Below is the last paragraph of his long speech.
“The logic of the Court’s opinion leads to startling, and, I believe, totally unacceptable, results. For example, the mottoes “In God, We Trust” and “E Pluribus Unum” appear on the coin and currency of the United States. I cannot imagine that the statutes, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 331 and 333, proscribing defacement of United States currency impinge upon the First Amendment rights of an atheist. The fact that an atheist carries and uses United States currency does not, in any meaningful sense, convey any affirmation of belief on his part in the motto “In God We Trust.” Similarly, there is no affirmation of belief involved in the display of state license tags upon the private automobiles involved here.”
At this time, it is only a threat to sue, but the group states they do have the right.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out for Mississippi.
I think it is such a shame that this is even considered as “In God, We Trust” has always been a part of our national motto since the beginning. Our rights are being attacked.
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