An atheist college student who received hate mail and death threats after she spoke out against a monument declaring “In God We Trust” on public property in Alabama said she was helping to preserve religious liberty for everyone.
The Press-Register reported it had verified numerous Facebook comments and emails sent to Amanda Scott, who spoke twice before the Mobile County Commission against the proposed plaque.
The comments suggested Scott “jump off a bridge,” “burn in Hell,” or be “shot for treason,” and another wondered “whatever happened to stoning people in the city square?"
Scott, a Faulkner State student, said Wednesday during an “ask me anything” session on Reddit that WKRG-TV station unintentionally encouraged some of the hateful comments by asking viewers to comment on a Facebook post about the issue.
“Fortunately I have been safe so far,” she said. “The day after the (televised) interview, last Friday, I went to Artwalk in downtown Mobile and the most that happened was a few people looking at me and whispering to each other near the Mobile Atheist Community table, where I was standing. I haven't been in public since then because I want to lay low.”
Scott said she got involved to challenge efforts by an out-of-state group to set up the religious-themed monument.
“There is a national organization called In God We Trust America Inc. based in Bakersfield, California, that is behind putting up 'In God We Trust' plaques in government buildings across the country,” she said. “Hundreds of local government bodies like city councils and county commissions have approved the plaques without any challenge. I wanted our local county commission to know that they would not be able to put up the plaque without a challenge.”
Although she’s an atheist, Scott said her efforts are supported by a Unitarian pastor and a representative from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“Both of them testified that they thought using the sacred name of God on money and in a government building was sacrilegious and that the separation of church and state also protects religion,” Scott said. “I am willing to work with them again and anyone else who is religious that supports the separation of church and state.”
Scott said she would prefer the national motto be changed from “In God We Trust” back to “E Pluribus Unum” – or “Out of many, one” – as the founders intended.
“The separation of church and state is important to me because it protects the rights of both non-religious and religious people,” Scott said. “The same wall that protects atheists from state-sponsored Christianity is the one that protects Christians from state-sponsored Islam.”
Watch an interview with Scott posted online by WKRG-TV: