Four years ago, I thought Mississippi might have been given the push it needed to eliminate the Confederate battle flag, but once again, the issue appears like it will die in session.
The push that Mississippi should have used was from the Southern Baptist Convention. During its meetings while in the middle of a very divisive and contested Presidential election, the Christian denomination’s leadership called on Christians to stop displaying the battle flag “as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”
Russell Moore, who runs the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the convention, wrote the following in a blog:
“As I’ve said before, the Cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. Today, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, including many white Anglo southerners, decided the cross was more important than the flag. They decided our African-American brothers and sisters are more important than family heritage. We decided that we are defined not by a Lost Cause but by amazing grace. Let’s pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors.
“And let’s take down that flag.”
More than 2,000 Mississippi churches are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. While the convention doesn’t necessarily govern each individual church, it reflected a change in the denomination’s attitude toward the controversial emblem. I was hoping that it would mean that more conservative Christians in our state agreed with the SBC’s decree.
That didn’t happen.
In 2020, it looked like we had a chance to do it. The legislature was poised to do it, but somehow, it appears like it will die once again in committee.
I understand that the battle flag has been an important part of our history, but it has hurtful historical associations with slavery, segregation and other forms of racial discrimination. We cannot let one icon become a stumbling block to our state.
Our state leaders know that we are religious. No wonder Mississippi leads the nation in churches per capita. A study by www.movoto.com in 2014 listed Mississippi as the most religious state in the union.
Some of the reasons why we have kept the Confederate battle emblem so long is probably because outsiders were telling us what to do. We don’t like it. If the change comes from within, however, then real change can happen. If the people want it changed (and now a larger percentage of our population wants it changed), our legislature needs to give the people a chance to change it or they can change it themselves without a vote.
Maybe we’ll have another discussion a few years down the road.
You can contact Brent Maze at email@example.com.