Mississippi Baptist Convention Urges Removal of Confederate Emblem From State Flag

Image: Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Mississippi’s largest religious group said Tuesday that state lawmakers have a moral obligation to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag because many people are “hurt and shamed” by the symbol.

“While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of our state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hatred,” the Mississippi Baptist Convention said in a statement. “The racial overtones of this flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue.”

The conservative-leaning and majority-white Southern Baptist group has more than 500,000 members in the state, in more than 2,100 churches. Mississippi’s population is about 3 million, and 38 percent of residents are African American.

Protests against racial injustice across the US are focusing new attention on the flag and other Confederate symbols. The Baptist Convention joins the NCAA, the Southeastern Conference, prominent business organizations, members of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, and other religious groups in calling for change to the last state flag that includes the Confederate emblem—a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars.

Back in 2015, Mississippi native and Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore recalled how he decided to stop displaying his state flag when he realized how African Americans might view the symbol.

“I found myself wincing, wondering what the flag communicates. Should I explain this is not the Confederate flag? I wish it were different, but it’s not,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

White supremacists in the Mississippi legislature embedded the Confederate symbol in the upper left corner of Mississippi state flag in 1894, amid backlash to political power that African Americans gained during Reconstruction.

Voters chose to keep the design in a 2001 state election, rejecting an alternative that would have replaced the Confederate symbol with a blue field topped by a cluster of white stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said that if the flag is going to be changed, it should be done by another statewide vote.

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Source: Christianity Today