Mississippi will roll out this month a new design on its default issue license plates with the phrase, "In God We Trust."
Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced the license plate makeover last year. The state's seal, which reads "The Great Seal of the State of Mississippi" is also featured on the design.
"I was proud to sign legislation in 2014 that added the United States National Motto, 'In God We Trust,' to the Mississippi State Seal," Bryant tweeted in May. "Today, I am equally delighted to announce that it will adorn our new Mississippi license plates. They will be available starting in January 2019."
What's the reaction?
Reactions to the design have been mixed.
The American Humanist Association claims the wording is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
"To display any statement on the back of one's vehicle is to promote that statement," said David Niose, AHA's legal director, according to Fox News. "The problem, obviously, is that many individuals do not believe in a God, let alone trust in him, her, or it. Thus, to create a standard license plate that displays that phrase, with no alternative at an equal cost that avoids such a statement, unconstitutionally endorses religion."
Jon Pritchett, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, said the argument that the plates are unconstitutional is false.
"We have been misinformed and misled by generations of public policy, education, and media leaders on the so-called 'separation of church and state,'" Pritchett wrote in a blog post. "The concept has been so pervasive that we generally accept the idea that it is inappropriate to bring any faith-based ideas to the public square. The idea that we should separate religion — of any faith or denomination — from politics is not only false, it is virtually impossible."
The state seal is replacing the 2013 design that featured legendary blues artist B.B. King.