Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Flag Flies in the Face of a New Debate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Flag Flies in the Face of a New Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

ST. SIMONS ISLAND | A couple of groups with "Southern" in their names are at odds.

While meeting in Tampa, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution calling on Christians to stop displaying the Confederate battle flag. Southern Heritage Florida took offense, calling it hypocrisy and, in the words of spokesman David McCallister, "very draconian."

Pastor William Dwight McKissic Sr. of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, wrote the resolution. Before the vote, McKissic told The Washington Post that he thought it imperative that Southern Baptists, the nation's second-largest religious group, make a statement about the flag after Dylann Roof killed nine black worshipers a year ago at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

"You can't take something that is contaminated and make it innocent. I think to honor those nine people ..." McKissic said, "surely you can repudiate what drove Dylann Roof to kill those folks."

McKissic and I will have to disagree on that one. It wasn't the bright flag Roof held in his hand that drove him. It was something dark he held in his heart.

Unlike some other things written into the Baptist covenant, the resolution is not binding. That's probably a good thing because you can bet there are a number of Southern Baptists who put on gray uniforms and charge under the Confederate battle flag as re-enactors each year at Olustee, Gettysburg and other battlegrounds.

Taken on its face, one supposes McKissic meant that Roof contaminated the flag in shooting the worshipers at Emanuel. Many see the flag as a symbol of racism and slavery. There's no doubt some groups use it to spout racist views. The KKK comes instantly to mind. But others see it as simply an identifying emblem in a long, tragic and needless war.

"We're not pleased with any group adopting the philosophy that the Confederate battle flag or any other Confederate symbol constitute anything negative," McCallister said.

Confederate soldiers were honorable, patriotic men who did their duty when called upon to protect the South against Union troops illegally invading, he said. …

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