The Satanic Temple is threatening to sue the state of Mississippi if the state chooses to include the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on the flag.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Mississippi legislators voted to remove the Confederate symbol from the state flag in late June. A new flag will be redesigned to potentially include the phrase “In God We Trust” instead of the Confederate battle emblem.
The Satanic Temple, however, is expressing opposition to the court ruling because of its decision to include the faith-centric phrase, a letter sent to Attorney General Lynn Fitch by representative Marc Randazza of Randazza Legal Group says.
“We understand that your state is planning to take the very positive step of removing the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag,” Randazza wrote in the letter. “However, it is our understanding that the proposal calls for it to be replaced with “In God we Trust”, a proposal you seem to endorse.
“While the Satanic Temple supports the removal of the Confederate flag, 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,” Randazza wrote.
The letter went on to suggest that Mississippi “should include a reference to Satan” if the state “is going to use a religious phrase on its flag.”
“Before you handwave this idea away,” Randazza wrote, “I would like to draw your attention to the seven tenets of the Satanic Temple.”
“The Seven Tenets seem to be more consistent with Mississippian values than even the Ten Commandments,” he added, citing a footnote over the topic of capital punishment.
Randazza acknowledged that some people would be “a bit put off” at the proposal of putting “In Satan We Trust” on the flag. But the lawyer argued that atheists, Satanists, and non-theists would feel the same way if “In God We Trust” was placed on the state flag.
Randazza concluded the letter by threatening a lawsuit if Mississippi follows through with the decision.
According to WLOX, the 1978 case of O’Hair v. Blumenthal states that “the national motto, and its use on coin and currency, does not infringe on First Amendment rights.” While the Satanic Temple referenced the case in their letter, they said that "the facts in that case and the particular act we would seek to enjoin are distinguishable.”
Legislators will be presented with new state flag designs on Sept. 14, in which voters will be able to choose in the November election.
The inscription of “In God We Trust” is also featured on the Mississippi State seal.
A spokesperson for the Satanic Temple confirmed the organization’s objection to the new initiative.
“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,” spokesperson Lucien Greaves contended. “They are not being given a choice of whom they can marginalize next.”
“The Satanic Temple is 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,” Greaves added. “To us, this is no small matter.”
Despite the name, The Satanic Temple does not “hold to a personal Satan” as seen in the Bible as the organization is non-theistic.
“To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions, “the organization explains. “Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.”
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.