Which is worse on a flag: approbation for slavery or for a nonexistent god?

June 29, 2020 • 1:30 pm

The good news: the Mississippi legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from its state flag, a symbol that has long and rightfully angered people because it symbolizes the defense of slavery. Mississippi was the last state to have the Stars and Bars on its flag.

The bad news: From the Washington Post (click on screenshot):

It’s not a done deal yet, but I’m betting, it being Mississippi and all, that the state seal, complete with an affirmation of our trust in a Nonexistent Man, will be slapped on the flag. Naturally, the idea was from Republicans supposedly seeking “unity”, though of course they’re “erasing” atheists:

JACKSON, Miss. — Two of Mississippi’s top elected Republicans proposed Wednesday that the Confederate battle emblem be replaced on the state flag with the words “In God We Trust,” seeking a path toward unity in their state amid the backdrop of national protests over racial injustice.

“It is my personal belief that it is time for us to change our state flag to reflect the love, compassion and conviction of our people,” Attorney General Lynn Fitch said. “The addition of ‘In God We Trust’ from our state seal is the perfect way to demonstrate to all who we are.”

Mississippi has the only state flag that includes the Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. White supremacists in the Legislature chose the design in 1894 as backlash for the political power African Americans gained during Reconstruction after the Civil War.

Mississippi voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 statewide election, but the design has remained contentious. Elsewhere in the country, debate has sharpened as Confederate monuments and statues recalling past slavery have been toppled by protesters or deliberately removed by authorities amid a groundswell against racial inequities.

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said a new flag would help future generations.

“In my mind, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and state ‘In God We Trust,’” Hosemann said. “ I am open to bringing all citizens together to determine a banner for our future.”

Here is the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi. While it would seem to violate the First Amendments, the courts have ruled that “In God We Trust” is a nonreligious phrase (!). After all, it’s on our currency!

In truth, given a choice between the two flags, I’d much prefer the newer version, for slavery is more odious than religion. Some religions are pretty innocuous, while all forms of slavery are immoral and reprehensible. Still, isn’t there a flag that really will unite the people? After all, “inclusion” must deal with the increasing number of nonbelievers in America.

How about a nice emblem of the state bird? Oh, scratch that: Mississippi’s state bird is the mockingbird.

h/t: Stephen

24 thoughts on “Which is worse on a flag: approbation for slavery or for a nonexistent god?

  1. The first thing crossing my mind is – in 2020 Mississippi is removing the Confederate flag. So 165 years it takes to get this thing off your flag. Should we be applauding or laughing. This is only the poorest and blackest state in the country so it is about time. Such rapid progress must be hard to keep up with down there. Maybe in a few years they can celebrate the end to the Spanish America War.

  2. IMO, “In God We Trust” is just new code for legitimized bigotry. Small improvement, but better than honoring slavery.

  3. The motto represents a fundamental problem in our country. It represents the current toxic ideology of White Christian Nationalism that is currently infecting our secular government and judicial system.

    The practice of slavery in the South was justified by this evil belief and covertly flourished during Reconstruction into today through the “Lost Cause.”

    Unless this violation of church and state gets seriously addressed by our next President, then this will continue to be a fundamental problem for our increasing secular citizens in the coming years.

  4. Mississippi was the last state to have the Stars and Bars on its flag.

    Mississippi finally buckled on this issue under pressure from the football-powerhouse Southeastern Conference that it would no longer sanction conference games held in the state if it didn’t.

    These Magnolia State stories always make me think of Ms. Nina Simone:


    As to which is worse — the Stars & Bars or “In God We Trust”? I dunno, some say fire, some say ice.

    I say 6-to-5 pick ’em.

  5. Does anyone know why the shield in the center has eleven stars and eleven stripes? Does it have anything to do, perhaps, with the eleven states in the confederacy?

    1. Seems to be coincidence. The current seal is a close adaptation of the seal Mississippi adopted in 1798, when it became an official US territory. That original seal had 11 stripes on it just like the current one, the eagle, the olive branch, the writing around the outside. The 2014 version leaves out a ribbon with “E Pluribus Unum” on it, adds the stars, and adds “In God We Trust” at the bottom.

      I suppose it’s possible they decided on 11 stars to secretly represent the confederacy, but I find it more likely they picked that number just to match the 11 stripes that were on the 1798 version. Maybe the racists in the legislature at the time were happy for the coincidence, but since the 11 stripes were used in 1798, it’s really hard to justify claiming they are a confederate symbol.

  6. ‘In gods, some of us trust; the rest can go to hell’

    OK for the new slogan??? (small ‘g’, hopefully)

  7. As an atheist, I find “In God We Trust” totally innocuous — couldn’t care less. The confederate flag, though, on all government seals and buildings where descendants of slaves must transact business really is offensive. At the other extreme, I find removing the confederate flag a no-brainer but consider historical monuments and artworks worthy of a different kind of concern than a stupid flag. So for me, changing the flag gets an easy “yes,” “In God We Trust” gets a “who cares?” and monuments get a case by case review for art historical value and removal IF the art historical value is low AND the plan for an aesthetic replacement is submitted and approved.

  8. There are multiple flag designs according to reports I read but every one of them has IGWT on it.

    For proof of how things are in that state, although MS is 38% black, they never win some statewide offices. I imagine voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the like really take a toll.

    1. And, as I noted earlier, only 60 some percent of Mississippians are religious (not sure what definition they are using). I wonder if the proposals have asked for input form the others?

  9. I’m not sure there is much of a difference to be honest.

    At the end of the day, what can you call an authority that you cannot question, that defines the very meaning of your life?


  10. Completely agree with you PCC, I would much rather have the change than not.

    Yes, they could’ve done better. But I’d much much rather gripe about IGWT for the next 20 years than gripe about confederate state flags for the next 20 years.

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