Church’s leadership in flag issue may help

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2000

The tortuous journey of Mississippi’s flag headed to church on Tuesday as several state religious leaders vowed to use the power of the pulpit to lobby for a new flag.

Officials with a group of Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches on Tuesday announced their faith and support in a proposed new flag design. The new design would remove a Confederate symbol from the current flag, which many people see as offensive – even racist.

In a state where many whites apparently believe the 11th Commandment is &uot;Thou shalt not touch our flag,&uot; the news came a bit of a shock to some people.

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How dare the churches – most of which themselves are self-segregated – tell us what to think, some flag supporters said.

But who better to bring together vastly different sides than the church?

Unencumbered by fear of political reprisal and &uot;good ol’ boy&uot; cronyism, the church stands to bring logic and reason to a debate filled with historical and emotional fire and brimstone.

Throughout history, society has looked to and received help from the church as a moral and social yardstick of sorts – and this issue is no different.

As the Most Rev. William R. Houck, bishop of the Catholic Diocese in Jackson, said during Tuesday’s announcement, &uot;It is clear that the continued use of our present flag will not unite us for good but will continue to foster division and cripple our future.&uot;

Apt words.

We just hope the people in the pews are listening.