March 2014 Church & State | AU Bulletin

At the request of Gov. Phil Bryant (R), the Mississippi Senate has approved a measure to add the phrase “In God We Trust” to the state’s seal.

The current seal contains an image of an eagle and the words “The Great Seal of the State of Mississippi,” but there is no motto, reported the Associated Press.

The measure passed the Senate unanimously and has moved on to the House of Representatives.

The addition is part of a larger piece of legislation called the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which supporters say will protect the religious freedom of state residents.

Critics say the bill is unnecessary. Sen. David Jordan (D-Greenwood) reminded colleagues that the Constitution already guarantees religious liberty.

“We haven’t seceded from the union, have we?” he asked.

Other senators raised concerns that bill would protect minority religions, like Islam.

“This bill applies to all religions, including Islam, Buddhism and New Age religions,” said Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory). “We need to think carefully about the implications of it.”

But Sen. Phillip A. Gandy (R-Waynesboro) insisted that the bill is needed because Christians might face restrictions in the future.