By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
KING, NC — “King is not Egypt and the folks there may not look much like Joseph, but the controversy over the removal of the Christian flag from a veteran’s memorial couldn’t be a better example of God taking something meant for evil and turning it into good,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “This issue has galvanized the community and we’re excited to see what happens next.”
The King City Council, fearing the town couldn’t afford a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union, had the flag removed some three weeks ago after a veteran of the war in Afghanistan made an anonymous complaint that the symbol violated the First Amendment. Residents’ response has been less secretive as thousands of Christian flags have popped up all over King, from a new flag on a 35-foot pole in front of Divine Catering on Main Street to Christian flag car magnets, auto window flags, garden flags and even lapel pins.
According to Dwight Gullion, co-owner and president of Gullion’s Christian Supply Store, passersby on Highway 52 may soon see a huge 12-by-18-foot flag unfurled by a veterans’ group on private property near the King exit.
“Before this complaint, if there were five Christian flags flying in King, I would have been surprised. Now there are hundreds,” said Gullion, whose store has had to order and re-order to meet demand as residents proclaimed Monday Christian Flag Day and are continuing to display more flags as they ready for an Oct. 23 rally at Calvary Baptist Church.
“So many people have seen this as an opportunity to be a witness, to take a stand, to say ‘regardless of what is being done in the public venue, I’m not ashamed of my faith,'” Gullion said. “The complaint claims that having the flag on the memorial violates the first part of the First Amendment, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’ What the people here have said is that even if we can’t agree on what that means, let’s take advantage of the second part, ‘or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ and maximize that part by exercising that personal freedom.”
He said the number of flags in the business district doesn’t compare to those flying in neighborhoods and that the trend is spreading to rural Stokes County and beyond. The message isn’t lost on the Council, which heard from some 20 members of the public about the issue at its Monday night meeting.
“Look at all the hundreds of people that got upset that the flag was taken down. I think we count for something,” the Rev. David Keaton, pastor of Missions Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, told King officials. An estimated 80 people packed into the meeting room with another 60 outside.
In response, the King City Council slated a public hearing on the matter for 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the King Elementary School gym. Mayor Jack Warren said the public can expect to learn about three or four options the Council is considering. According to a Fox 8 report, one of those options would be to sell the land the memorial is on to a private group.
The Central Park memorial, where 10 other flags remain on display, has been the gathering point for supporters of the holy banner including veterans who have been keeping a 24-hour vigil on a Christian flag in a temporary stand there.
“This battle appears to be far from over, but Christians can already rejoice that this simple cross emblem that may have gone unnoticed before, because of this complaint, is now in the spotlight,” said the Rev. Creech. “What was intended to snuff out this symbol of faith in the public square, God has used to light a fire in the hearts of the people.”
He urged King residents to keep up their fight to restore the flag by attending the public hearing on Monday and the rally on Oct. 23.