Without much resistance, the Mississippi Senate voted to add the phrase “In God We Trust” to its state seal.
The addition of the phrase was requested by Gov. Phil Bryant. The bill, Senate Bill 2681, was sponsored by Republican Sen. Phillip Gandy, who also works as a minister of Liberty Baptist Church.
If the bill passes the House of Representatives, Mississippi will join Florida as the only other state to include “In God We Trust” on its seal. The phrase was signed into law as an official motto of the United States by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.
Although the phrase is already connected to American politics, legislators in Mississippi understandably debated its religious implications. According to SF Gate, the bill is being referred to as the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” and it also includes provisions that aim to reduce the government’s interference in an individual’s right to practice any religion.
Sen. Gandy claims that the bill was introduced because some Christians throughout the state perceived that the government had put a “burden” on them practicing their religion.
“Times are changing, and Christians are afraid of a lot of different things, and some of that is reality, possibly, and some is perception. But we want to do what we can,” Gandy said.
During the Senate proceedings regarding the bill, Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Armory) voiced his concern that the bill would allow Muslims to stop work to pray or other religious practices from occurring. Bryan himself is a Baptist.
“This bill applies to all religions, including Islam, Buddhism and New Age religions. We need to think carefully about the implications of it,” Bryan said.
Apparently the implications were straightened out prior to the vote. Apart from four missing Senators, the Senate passed the bill 48-0, the Sun Herald reports.
The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives.