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The Satanic Temple is warning Mississippi that it will pursue a lawsuit against the state if it puts the phrase “In God We Trust” on its flag.
Recently, Republican Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a law to change the state flag in order to remove the Confederate battle flag, which has long been on the banner. According to the approved legislation, known as House Bill 1796, the new design for the state flag cannot include the Confederate banner, but it will require “In God We Trust.”
The group wrote in a letter to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch that if the state “is going to place a religious phrase on its flag, it should include reference to Satan,” The Hill reported.
The organization commended Gov. Tate Reeves for signing legislation in late June to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the flag but added that removing “one divisive symbol of exclusion only to replace it with a divisive phrase of exclusion does not eliminate exclusion, but rather moves it from one group to a collection of others.”
Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves said in a statement released Tuesday that his group was “fully dedicated to preserving Religious Liberty, and that includes the rights of non-believers and believers of alternative faiths to live free of government coercion or sanction related to their personal religious opinions.”
“We cannot allow opportunistic politicians to insist on collapsing the wall of separation between Church and State as a consolation for the removal of Confederate iconography,” he stated. “They are not being given a choice of whom they can marginalize next.”
The move came amid a nationwide push to remove symbols of the Civil War-era pro-slavery cause as widespread protests against racial inequality and police brutality continued across the country, ignited by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and more Black Americans.
“We can imagine that there would be some Mississippians who would be a bit put off by the words ‘In Satan We Trust’ on the state flag,” the Satanic Temple wrote in its letter. “If you can imagine that, then you might imagine how atheists, Satanists, and other people of nontheistic faiths could feel excluded by the addition of ‘In God We Trust’ to the state flag.”
Voters in Mississippi will be asked to decide on the new state flag design on the November ballot.