Between 400 and 500 people show up at meeting to urge City Council to reverse its decision to remove the flag.
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
KING, N.C. — Christian flags are continuing to multiply all over this Stokes County city as residents wage a battle to have the symbol reinstalled as part of the local Veterans Memorial at Central Park.
Between 400 and 500 people showed up at King Elementary School Monday night at the City Council’s public hearing on the matter, with more than three dozen speakers unanimously urging the Council to reverse its decision to remove the flag. City officials did not take any action.
Council members, who voted 3-1 in September to remove the flag following a complaint from one resident and threats from the American Civil Liberties Union, shared with the crowd three options they’re considering: upholding their decision to take the flag down, transferring the memorial to a private entity such as a veteran’s group, or creating a “limited public forum and policy which would designate a single flag pole to display flags of religions, religious symbols or emblems recognized by the U.S. military for placement at government markers.”
The Rev. Kevin Broyhill, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, told the Council Monday he preferred the veterans’ group option. Broyhill has maintained throughout the ordeal that local officials could count on churches to support them in a legal battle against the ACLU.
In fact, his church is joining Return America to host a rally for the flag on Oct. 23. Supporters are asked to bring Christian flags and gather in the church parking lot at 10 a.m. with the silent march to begin at 10:30 a.m. and rally to follow at the Central Park amphitheater at 11 a.m. Buses and vans are welcome for those who can’t walk the distance.
Attorney David C. Gibbs III of the Christian Law Association of Seminole, Fla., will be guest speaker. Organizers expect the event to draw a crowd from both inside and outside of King.
“Please join us as we send a strong, vibrant signal that reinforcements are on the way!” wrote Return America President Ron Baity on his Web site.
Already, Christian flag sales have picked up, not only locally but regionally, according to suppliers. Many residents have installed them at their homes and businesses and on their cars. A temporary Christian flag has been set up next to the memorial and is being guarded day and night by veterans who have been extremely vocal in the fight over the memorial.
The man who complained that the Christian flag was a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause is reportedly a veteran of the war in Afghanistan but has yet to publicly acknowledge his identity. He has also complained about a separate memorial that includes a silhouette of a soldier kneeling over a comrade’s grave which is marked with a cross. The veteran’s group responsible for that display has said unequivocally that it will not be taken down.
“Too often these kind of issues like this Christian flag controversy flare up but then die down and are soon forgotten. We’re glad to see this is not the case in King,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “It’s wonderful to see the faith community standing firm. We urge the City Council to draw courage from their own citizens and do the right thing by reinstalling this flag. I’m still concerned that among the options the City Council has said they are considering, none includes a possible legal battle with the ACLU to defend the citizens First Amendment rights. It’s my prayer that the City Council will develop some nerve in this case.”
Although there is no deadline for the Council to act, it will be interesting to see if they do so prior to Veterans Day. According to its Web site the city is set to hold its Veteran’s Day Ceremony at the memorial. The 11 a.m. event on Nov. 11 is to include patriotic music from the West Stokes High Band as well as a dedication of new tiles for the memorial.