September 2020 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill in late June that alters the state flag. The legislation removes a Confederate battle emblem from the flag, but it mandates that the phrase “In God We Trust” appear on the yet-to-be-determined new design. 

Mississippi lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the change. The state had included an image from the Confederate battle flag since 1894.  

Several legislators applauded the decision to include the religious phrase on the new flag.

“I’m proud to put that on our state flag, and I hope it stays there forever,” said Sen. W. Briggs Hopson (R-Issaquena). Sen. David Parker (R-DeSoto) added, “If we are going to make a change, I feel very strongly that it sends a strong message to … everybody looking and watching this today that we are putting God first.” 

Americans United said state officials made the right move in ditching the divisive Confederate symbol, but questioned their decision to mandate the use of “In God We Trust.”

“Mississippi’s decision trades a white nationalist symbol for a Christian nationalist one,” wrote Samantha Sokol, AU policy advocate, on the organization’s “Wall of Separation” blog. “Here’s why: ‘In God We Trust’ may seem like a common phrase, but it has also long been a rallying cry for Christian nationalists, who spread the false idea that the U.S. was founded as a ‘Christian nation’ and that the government should favor and support Christianity over all other religions and nonreligion.”