By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
KING, N.C. — Six years after King opened its Veteran’s Memorial — described on the town’s Web site as one of its “proudest attractions” — elected officials in the Stokes County municipality have voted to remove a Christian flag from the Central Park structure in response to threats of lawsuits following an anonymous complaint about the banner.
“Religious freedom is once again undermined by the bullying of the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Make no mistake, those who assert some impregnable wall of separation between church and state neither understand the Constitution nor act in the favor of their country.”
The flag was removed Sept. 16 a day after the council voted, 3-1, to take it down rather than risk what they fear would be a costly lawsuit. The move was an about face from the council’s action just over a month ago, when councilmen Dillard Burnette, Wesley Carter and Charles Allen all voted to leave the flag up. Council member Terri Fowler was not present at the August meeting.
Council members, with the exception of Carter, reversed their decision in a Sept. 15 vote, after estimating that a legal fight against the ACLU could cost the town as much as $300,000. The city’s attorney had recommended the council remove the flag.
But Calvary Baptist Church says the fight is not over yet. The Rev. Kevin Broyhill told the media that his 870-member congregation will start to raise money for a possible legal battle. Winston-Salem-based Return America, led by the Rev. Ron Baity, is joining the effort and the two organizations plan to stage a rally to push for the flag to be reinstalled. Already hundreds of supporters gathered at the memorial Monday night to protest. They plan to meet there each Monday evening to further organize for an Oct. 23 rally. Still another event is slated for Oct. 5, when members of Running the Race for the Prize will hold a peaceful walk in protest of the flag’s removal from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the park.
An informal poll on the WXII12.com Web site showed 87 percent of respondents disagreed with the decision to remove the flag with only 12 percent supporting the move.
“The sadly ironic part of these situations is that organizations like the ACLU are using the very amendment that guarantees the ‘free exercise of religion’ and ‘freedom of speech’ to remove any religious symbol from the public square and to silence Christians,” said the Rev. Creech. “To claim that having a Christian flag among 11 flags that represent various aspects of our nation’s heritage is making a law ‘respecting an establishment of religion’ is simply ridiculous.”
The Alliance Defense Fund, on its Web site, says that “for decades, the American Civil Liberties Union and other radical anti-Christian groups have been on a mission to eliminate public expression of our nation’s faith and heritage. By influencing the government, filing lawsuits, and spreading the myth of the so-called ‘separation of church and state,’ the opposition has been successful at forcing its leftist agenda on Americans.”
The man who complained about the flag to begin with, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who will identify himself only as “Steve,” is now asking for the removal of another monument at the park, a wooden silhouette of a soldier kneeling on a fallen comrade’s grave which is marked with a cross. No action has been taken on his latest request and members of the American Legion Post which installed the memorial say it will not be taken down.
“There is no stopping these folks who won’t be happy until every vestige of Christianity is eliminated from the land,” said the Rev. Creech. “We encourage the city of King officials to stop trying to appease and instead prepare for the fight.”
He said the beauty of this battle is how the Lord has already used the controversy to inspire Christians to speak out. While one Christian flag in King was taken down, many more have gone up at private homes and businesses. In fact, according to the Fox 8 Web site, Guillions Christian Store in King sold out of the flags and had to order another shipment of 300 this past week.
Veteran’s Memorial, King, N.C. Picture courtesy of The Stokes News