Thursday, June 25, 2015

Flag or Cross?

The news this week is full of stories about the decision of the governor of South Carolina to push for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds. Polls are being taken, politicians are being interviewed, and the network talking heads are weighing in. In much of the discussion, the controversy is being used to advance one agenda or another.

To me, the issue boils down to what should I, as a follower of Jesus, think about this. First, some personal background. I was born in Rockville, Maryland, to parents who were raised in the North Carolina mountains. I remember going into the center of what was then a small southern town just outside of Washington, DC and walking past a memorial to soldiers from the area who had fought for the Confederacy. My family has been in North Carolina since the late 18th century and were some of the first settlers in the western part of that state. I have ancestors who fought for the South.

Because of this, and because my birth place is south of the Mason Dixon line, I have always considered myself a Southerner. Had I been alive in 1861, I probably would have fought for my state against those who were seen as invaders. None of my ancestors had slaves and were farmers rather than rich planters, so I don't think my motive would have been to preserve slavery. It was a different time then, and a person's state meant much more to them than the nation did. So, I get those who feel that the battle flag is about their heritage as southerners. I have felt the same way, and still would except for how that flag has been those who espouse hate and how it causes pain to the hearts of others. I have also learned more about the philosophy on which the Confederacy was founded, and as a Christian, I cannot be okay with that.

In this post, Russell Moore writes something that I believe anyone who calls themselves a Christian must take seriously. He writes:
The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little
girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with 
burning crosses on front lawns by night. That sort of symbolism is out of step with 
                    the justice of Jesus Christ.

I get what the flag means to white southerners who love their heritage, and I have no problem with anyone flying the flag on their own property, although I would encourage sensitivity to neighbors. I also am beginning to understand what the flag means to those whose heritage includes enslavement, oppression, beating, death, and discrimination. As one who follows the King whose kingdom includes every race and tongue, I cannot be for something that causes heartache to my brothers and sisters in Christ.  


KC Bob said...

I do wonder about the idea of states rights. Seems that states would have fought under their own flag and not that of a collection of states. It seems that soldiers who fought for their state would not have wanted to be led by a president (Davis) and a general (Lee) who represented something larger than their individual state. So I guess I just do not understand how an allegiance to a state entered into their decision when these states gave away their rights to the Confederacy.

Fred Shope said...

As I understand it, the involvement of each state was pretty much voluntary, with the CSA serving as kind of an umbrella organization. Much like the US under the Articles of Confederation, with some of the same problems. It is hard for us to imagine today because we are so used to a strong national government.

KC Bob said...

I guess my point was about how states gave away their rights in a war that is purported to be about states' rights. Just seems inconsistent to me. If the war was about states' rights then each soldier would have fought under the banner and uniform of his own state.

Fred Shope said...

Yeah, I don't totally understand their way of thinking. Of course, it was about much more than states' rights.

KC Bob said...

I agree. Much more than states' rights. The economic issues surrounding slavery was a huge factor in confederate secession and the civil war.

Interesting how the cheap illegal alien wages today challenge immigration reform.

As the saying goes, just follow the money.

Fred Shope said...


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