Last week, I was vacationing in South Carolina when I drove past a billboard with a Confederate flag in the background and the words “Never Forget” emblazoned across it.
I was embarrassed then, but as I thought about it this week, another thought crossed my mind: “How must African-Americans in South Carolina feel about that billboard as they grieve the murder of nine black church members in Charleston by a white supremacist?”
How seeing those words must sting this week. How hard it must be to forget white racism when they live in a state that proudly flies, on the Capitol grounds, the Confederate flag.
I’m a proud Mississippian, a state that unfortunately and overwhelmingly voted to keep the “stars and bars” on its flag back in 2001. But I also come from a state full of people who claim allegiance to Christ over everything else.
To those folks – to the ones who really mean it – I say this: let’s practice what we preach. If unity in the body is as important to us as it is to Christ (John 17:21), we have a grave obligation to our siblings in the faith. We are obligated to care how our words, actions – and yes, symbols – undermine our credibility when we claim to believe that there is no racial stratification in the Church because “[we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Are we really one in Christ Jesus? If so, we will care how the African-American eyes of Christ’s body perceive the symbols that we hang over our mantels, fly on our flagpoles, and tolerate at Ole Miss football games. Seriously folks, let’s stop pretending that our black siblings look at that flag and see a neutral symbol of American history. We know what they see: a symbol that has, in most Americans’ minds, become the logo for backward, racist, white superiority.
What are you really holding onto when you refuse to let go of that flag? At what point in your Christian life did you become convinced that holding onto a strip of cloth was worth alienating your own family members in Christ?
If somehow that flag has become a crown of southern heritage you wear on your head, cast it down at the feet of Jesus. Because this isn’t about hypersensitivity or political correctness. This is about respect for King Jesus and all His royal subjects – not just the ones we’re accustomed to accommodating.
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I’m not claiming I understand everything about Deep South race politics (though I did have “Roll of thunder hear my cry” and “To kill a mockingbird” forced upon me in English lessons at school). Also, I agree with the implied argument that loyalty to Christ must trump our loyalties to our earthly nations.
However, in Britain, we are recovering from some fairly awful political correctness regarding flags.
A few years ago, there was an instance of a policeman asking a taxi driver to take down his union flag because it might stir up racial hatred, given that the BNP are very keen to fly the flag.
You may also be aware of the flag-gate scandal, where Emily Thornberry found herself having to stand down over a Twitter picture of a house draped in St. George’s crosses (English flags) on election day: – http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/politics/flag-gate-labour-aide-had-to-go-says-miliband-1-6965675 . If one is calling on people to be more loyal to Christ than Britain, fine, but I have less time for liberal elitist anti-flag snobbery of this kind.
Me personally, I don’t like the St. George’s cross, as St. George had nothing to do with England, even if he was martyred for his faith. I would much prefer a flag representing one of our great Christian reformers, e.g. George Whitfield, John and Charles Wesley, John Wycliffe, Charles Spurgeon or one of the puritans. Liberals might sneer at me for taking such a view, as if I care.
Graeme – I think it’s important to distinguish between “political correctness” and simply being a decent human being with empathy for how how others feel.
At the same time, I would say to those entering my country and saying that the flag offends them that if they do not like our country, we do not have a Berlin Wall designed to prevent people escaping.
im really sorry it was forced upon you sir. but I actually lost family due to the racism in this country, growing for me when I saw that flag it meant soneone might kill me and I better leave that neighborhood. in fact I would never dare step foot in a neighborhood where it was displayed bc it meant I wasnt welcome or might die. Not sure how this is a Christian nation w apartheid going on but….hey? I mean what I dont understand is we never asked to come here. the same ppl who want us to leave so badly are the same ancestors so insisting upon slave labor to help build it. how can it then only be YOUR country? Doesnt everything belong to God? Not sure I understand..doesnt God except everyone..or only white people.
Some of the news reports reaching the UK have suggested that it is a little over-simplistic to say that the perpetrator of this attack was a through-and-through racist, particularly given his black friends.
I feel that blacks have bad things in their history too. Slaves involved in the slave trade were often sold into slavery by blacks. Also, many African tribes reached significant size by fighting with other tribes and winning. England came into existence partly by nobles voluntarily asking the king to put them under his protection (a very rare example of peaceful expansion), but even then, the kingdom was established by some fighting.
If we took things to their logical conclusion, we may as well just say that nobody should ever celebrate their history.
I deplore the violence, but I have some sympathy with the people who fly the so-called Confederate flag (actually, it was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia). The USA has been subjected to waves and waves of trendy immigration, the end result being that white culture is becoming ever more squeezed (as elsewhere in the rest of the world). According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_demographics_of_the_United_States , whites made up 89.8% of the population in 1930 and 1940, but in 2010, they were down to 72.4%. There are some very fast-changing trends in areas of the nation. For well over a decade, over half of babies born in California have been hispanic.
I suspect many whites in the USA are feeling that they are being pushed aside by trendy multiculturalism and will be viewed as unfashionable and be left behind. This is a feeling that every genuine Christian can relate to.
there really is little point in discussing with you because i am brown. you will never see my point of view bc you have never been brown and will not understand. i do not discuss race issues with white ppl anymore bc even if they can sympathize slightly they will not understand. i only hope that God and God’s justice will prevail bc it is impossible to depend on man to judge fairly. So you may believe whatever you like. God bless.
Can we wrap up the discussion with that last comment? I think we’ve hashed this conversation out as much as it needs to be. Thanks everyone for joining in.
when I was growing up black in the south I remember as a child thinking when I saw the confederate flag that meant white people were going to hurt or harm me. thats what the flag meant to me. And as a grown Christian I cant imagine why in the spirit of love someone would want to hold onto it. yes I am now aware ppl tie their ancestors to this flag but that fact they dont consider it blood stained is the reason slavery happened at all. im sure ive got relatives that did all kinds of terrible things but it was not an honorable war. its time to let it go..it should have been along time ago. Germany has moved on so should we.
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