By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
KING — The Christian flag may fly again at King’s Central Park Veterans Memorial, but not any time soon, and only after a “Limited Public Forum Policy” is hammered out by city officials with help from the Alliance Defense Fund.
The ruling came Monday night when the King City Council voted 4-0 that the flag — banned from the memorial late in the summer following legal threats from the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State — could eventually be part of a limited public display to include religious flags recognized by the U.S. military. The vote did little to mollify the crowd, which included some 60 people in council chambers and another 20 outside the doors.
“You are not representing us,” one lady told the council during the public comment period.
“It’s silly for me to come home from combat and even be having this discussion about taking a flag down,” said Chaplain Kevin Winemiller, chiding city leaders for being afraid of the ACLU. “It’s a shame, and it’s a disgrace. And it’s not what America is all about.”
Another resident asked the council why the same flag that a veteran such as Winemiller could fly in his bunker in Iraq can’t fly at a memorial in America.
The City Council had initially voted to leave the flag up after an anonymous local resident, reportedly a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, complained that the display violated the Constitution. But council members reversed their decision weeks later when the city attorney told them King could face a costly legal battle.
That’s when residents began mounting a major campaign to have the flag reinstalled. Christian flags began popping up on vehicles, businesses and homes all over town, and veterans stood guard day and night for an entire month over a temporary Christian flag set in front of the memorial where 10 other banners still fly. Some 5,000 people poured into the park Oct. 23 for a rally and hundreds showed up at the council’s public hearing on the matter, where they were told that King officials were considering either allowing a veterans’ group to take possession of the memorial or designating a single flag pole to display “flags of religions, religious symbols or emblems recognized by the U.S. military for placement at government markers.”
At this week’s meeting, Council Member Terri Fowler opposed the idea of transferring the memorial to a private group because it is on property that belongs to the city, according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal. Instead the council expects to spend two months working with attorneys to come up with a new policy, which would come back before them for a vote.
“We wish King officials were immediately reinstalling the Christian flag. But we need to be prayerful and patient with them – allowing city officials to work with the Alliance Defense Fund. I’m confident that ADF will do all they believe is feasibly possible to defend the First Amendment rights of Christians against attacks like this from the ACLU,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Still we urge folks in and around King to continue to fly their own Christian flags with pride, to hold their council members accountable and not to lose momentum in this fight.”
“Christians in this small North Carolina town have inspired many to wake up to how easily we can lose our freedom of religion if we aren’t ready to defend it,” Creech added.
The Christian Action League will keep supporters informed on this issue when King officials put forth their new policy.