When Will Churches Give Up the U.S. Flag?

Have Southern Baptists pointed the way?

Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention renounced display of the Confederate battle flag in a historic, overwhelming vote Tuesday (June 14).

Southern Baptist Convention Parliamentarian Barry McCarty explains the resolution amendment process after a messenger complained about not being allowed to speak after time expired during the afternoon session of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 14 in St. Louis.

The convention adopted late in its afternoon session a resolution that urged “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole body of Christ, including our African American brothers and sisters.”

Imagine improved relations with Mexicans and Canadians.

Feeling at Home

I used this quote over at Patheos but given the excitements round hyeh the last week or so, a reminder about being strangers and aliens from a Roman Catholic intellectual invoking Augustine might be useful. I will include as well Peter Lawler’s comments about the Confederate Flag for good measure:

I really was quite moved when, driving through the heavily gay midtown section of Atlanta last Sunday, I saw so many homes and businesses flying the rainbow flag with the American flag. It’s not a a small thing that so many gays now feel fully at home in their country, where they’re free to live openly as who they are. But I wish more people were moved by Catholic writers calling for the American flag to be removed from the sanctuaries of their churches. Some argue that it never should have been there in the first place, and a Christian should always think of himself, as Saint Augustine says, as an alien or a pilgrim in his country. Still, many Christians have written in the last few days they have come to think of themselves, for the first time, as aliens in their country, and they know they will soon be marginalized if they live loudly and proudly (and charitably) as who they are.

Notice that I’ve managed to avoid waxing judgmental about the Confederate battle flag, although Apple moved to banish Civil War games that show that flag in the context of Confederate soldiers actually going into battle. Well, let me add one point: The main flag fact about the South today, especially the small-town South, is not the Stars and Bars; it’s the Stars and Stripes seen everywhere in places public and private, commercial and residential. The Confederate flag, it goes without saying, is hardly at all and shouldn’t be at all a sign of some present-tense form of allegiance. That doesn’t mean Americans should be deprived of historical literacy just because one flag lost and even deserved to lose. And it shouldn’t be a thought crime to believe that Lee and Jackson were really great generals and even good (although certainly misguided) men.

Now all we need is for President Obama to apologize for flying the gay pride flag.

No, wait. I forgive him. Who says Old Life is angry?

Straights You can Live With

Since I’m on the road I am (all about meEEEE!) listening to more national public media than to sports talk radio. That means I have heard a lot about how the United States took three big steps forward this past week. The Confederate Flag is now a disgrace. Government health insurance survived and millions of Americans are on the way to better lives. And gay marriage is now legal everywhere in the United States. I wonder if those who think all this shows the United States is headed in the right direction know where this progressive road is going. A world free of prejudice and filled with equality and justice? Isn’t that kind of like heaven? Meanwhile, the most vociferous opponents think at least Friday’s decision about gay marriage proves the United States is on the road to hell (which of course it is and always has been since only the redeemed are on the road to heaven).

Meanwhile (as a different Dan) pointed out, Islamists yesterday pulled off three different attacks. The most gruesome may have been the assault in France that left a man beheaded.

I wonder how far the proponents of progress are willing to go. Do they really think that the folks who wave the Confederate Flag or those who worship in churches that won’t marry gays are as threatening to progress as Islamic terrorists? Or would they rather live with Crackers and Bible-Thumpers who may bark a lot but seldom bite? And when Jihad comes to the United States, are the married gay couples going to fight? Or might they need some help from their straight opponents?

Conversely, do the Christians who do cartwheels of terror over the news of militant Islam view gay activists as as threatening as married gay couples? Or might Christians not recognize certain shared civil assumptions among the proponents of gay marriage?

Either way, some Christian voices can be heard on NPR who are not shrill but defend the freedoms of Christians to follow their consciences.

The sky may be falling, but it’s only a drizzle in the United States.

States' Rights, States' Flags

After crossing the eastern half of the country and listening to NPR for at least 10 per cent of it, you’d have thought that the Confederate Flag shot those AME church members in Charleston (though it sure did knock Laudato Si below the fold). Nothing about Dylann Roof and his family or background, nothing about the families of the victims, or about the congregation itself and how it is going to go on. Instead, aside from the escaped convicts in New York State, the media is all about stories related to taking the flag down.

I have long suspected that the Confederate Flag stood not for slavery or white supremacy but signified a form of protest resolutely American. Most Americans believe in limited government. Even proponents of big federal programs don’t want government infringing on civil liberties. So if you see a Confederate Flag in a dorm room window at the University of Michigan, which I have, my suspicion is that here is a mid-westerner who has chosen the flag of one political body that tried to resist the centralization of the federal government.

Many people do not view the flag so innocently. And I can well understand why African-Americans object to it. But I have trouble believing that the flag is a means for vindicating homicide or starting race wars. David Duke is not Dylann Roof who is not Robert L. Dabney.

At the same time, the Confederate Flag could hardly represent well the political conviction of states’ rights. It is one flag that stood for the 11 states that fought the North. Each of those southern states had their own flag. That is why I, as a states’ rightser, have always flown the state flags of our several residences. When we had only lived in four states, I would change the flag at each season — Massachusetts in the winter, Pennsylvania in the spring, Maryland in the summer, and Illinois in the fall. The flaw in this plan came when a funny and cynical friend told our neighbors during the First Iraq War that the red, white, black, and gold flag we flew in the summer was the Iraqi flag.

But if you do want to show your loyalty to states, we have 50 options. And almost 48 of them communicate nothing offensive to the descendants of American slaves.