King Dethroned

This past week, I was disturbed to hear about the defeat of what has been a 3-year battle for the religious right of expression. King, North Carolina may not be a town that is familiar to many of our readers. However, it has been the epicenter of an intense battle over religious expression. King, a small town just north of Winston-Salem was challenged by one Michael Hewett. Hewett, a U. S. Army veteran was offended that the town allowed Christian flags to fly in a local cemetery and had also allowed the presence of a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross. Hewett challenged the town’s right to allow these Christian symbols. Powered by a secularist agency, Hewett sued the township. But here is the most troubling problem of the whole affair: the township decided to surrender their case due to financial issues. The council members were advised that they could not win the case, so the community was wasting money in the case. It is reported that the case could accrue a hefty price tag of $2 million. Thus, to the great disdain of the community, the council members voted 3-2 in favor of settling the case and thus remove the flag and statue. But I have a few thoughts concerning this case.

christian_flag

What is so offensive?

The first question I hold is to Michael Hewett. What is so offensive about the Christian flag? What is it about a flag white flag, bearing a blue square and a red cross that you find so offensive? This flag does not degrade you in any way, shape, or form. This flag, unlike some secularist symbols, does not seek to make anyone feel ignorant. If you are an atheist, then the flag means nothing to you. As far as the statue, it was provided by private donations. If you had a statue you wanted to present, why not present your statue instead of bullying the city into action against the majority of the citizens who approved the statue? I feel that Hewett’s lawsuit is a microcosm of something bigger going on in our world, especially in the United States. That is, tolerance has been replaced by militancy that is leading this land down to road toward socialism. It is easy to point fingers and issue blame. But, the bottom line is that this land is undergoing a moral shift. Unfortunately by the time the story of the United States is complete, it may be that the United States of America may be comprised of the Socialist States of America unless there is a drastic change in the hearts and minds of the American people.

What happens now?

Another question that presents itself is this; what happens now? Will the people of King accept this ruling? Will the people seek the council of the fighters of religious liberty like those of the ACLJ and other such organizations? The final outcome essentially finds itself with the Christian citizens of King.

Conclusion

So much could be said about this issue. In fact, the lack of tolerance and the lawsuit happy nature of the populace is not uniting the nation, but rather dividing it. Are we coming to a point in time where religious expression is a criminal act? What will solve this divide? In fact, America is following a path that can be seen throughout history and especially in the Old Testament. America is becoming more and more secularized, which is a fancy way of saying that America is turning its back on God. However, history has demonstrated what happens when such a turn is taken. America will find itself in trouble and will need divine assistance. Then, God will show up and deliver the land. Revival will break out and the hearts of individuals will turn to God once again and the land will be transformed. Or another scenario is that the nation will continue to rebel and will find itself desolate. The answer to these problems is found in God. It may be that the land has to reach “rock bottom” before it sees the “heavenly heights” of God’s glory. King, North Carolina may have been dethroned in their fight for the freedom of religious expression, but King’s faithful Christian citizens serve the King of Kings who will never be dethroned.

 

Praying for the citizens of King while serving THE KING,

 

Pastor Brian

 

Copyright. Pastor Brian Chilton. 2015.

 

For more information, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2906238/North-Carolina-city-removes-display-soldier-kneeling-cross-sued-Army-veteran.html and http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/01/11/north-carolina-city-removes-sculpture-soldier-kneeling-before-cross/

 

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5 thoughts on “King Dethroned”

  1. You ask “What is so offensive about the flag?” I feel you are fully aware that the flag itself is not what is offensive, any more than other icons such as manger scenes and monuments of the 10 commandments. No one calls their radio station to say that they were driving to work and saw a manger scene in a church yard or a flag in a home’s yard and that they were offended by it, or that it should be removed. Religious icons and messages are advertised almost everywhere and there is no complaint by secularists. Post the five pillars of Islam on your house and glue a crucifix to your car – nobody cares. But, there is one place that those icons have no place, and that is where they are used to establish a government endorsement and/or promotion of religion. Exploit a public institution or space for the endorsement of your religion and you are in violation of the Constitution. The majority status of your religion does not entitle you to a constitutional exemption. And in pushing back against this sectarian abuse of co-opting the government, the claim that Christians are being oppressed is baseless. In fact, in view of the ubiquitous presence of Christian influence an practically every facet of life, the claim of oppression is laughable.

    The “shoe-on-the-other-foot” test can so easily be employed to demonstrate that flags, statues, and religious icons of all sorts really DO matter when they are used to establish what is behind or under them as endorsing them. What honest Christian from King, NC can say with a straight face that they would not bothered by an Islamic icon (for instance) being displayed prominently at the memorial? “Just look away”?? That often given advice would certainly not suit them, and it shouldn’t have to suit anyone. It is disingenuous to ignore the fact that the Christian flag and statue served the purpose of “officially” declaring the public memorial a Christian one. No true blooded American should have to “look away” because others sought to be divisive and exclusive with the public’s property.

    And as for the vitriol that has been the common response for Christians in the “comments” sections of reporting of this issue, Christian pastors should be ashamed of the behavior of their flocks. Its clear as day, that if humble Jesus were here, he would be beaten to a pulp.

    1. Thank you for your comment Doug. I certainly respect the complexity of this issue. Most certainly, Christians should not respond in a manner that is vitriolic. However, you must understand the reason behind this vitriolic aggression. For in reality, secularists have not been as passive as you suggest. Organizations like the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) have sought to eliminate public expressions of religion. It is interesting that you defend the rights of secularists, Muslims, and the like while criticizing the Christians rights to do the same. By the way, I would also defend the rights of secularists and Muslims to their right of worship…or lack thereof.

      Concerning the Constitution and freedom of religion, the separation of church and state was to indicate that the state could not force a person to accept a particular religion. This document was written in a time when most people were Christian (Protestant or Catholic). However, as time has progressed, there are many more religions and worldviews. However, one must also understand that secular ideologies are themselves considered a form of religion. Whether one considers it a “religion of no religion” or a worldview, to force a town to not allow a particular symbol or the like is to force the town to lean towards secularism. From what I understand, the statue was not purchased with public funds, rather it was purchased privately. Thus, if a secularist wanted to portray a soldier standing with the American flag in hand, that would be perfectly acceptable. There was nothing about the flag or the statue that forced someone to “look away.” The statue and flag did not say to the community, “Accept this or leave.” No! It was the public expression of a particular group or persons.

      It seems that individuals have confused separation of church and state with the political correctness that is promoted by some. Political correctness portrays the thought that no one should do or say anything that will offend someone. However, if we as a people are going to continue to have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we are forced to “grow up” and accept that people are going to say and believe things that we don’t like. However, we should not dare to impede upon one’s rights to express their beliefs, so as long as it does not harm another person.

      In conclusion, I would challenge you to do the same as you have suggested. Put your feet in the shoes of Christians who find their rights being taken away. Look at the news around the country and you see this exemplified. But more importantly, I would challenge you to see the real Jesus. The Jesus of history is the Christ of faith. This Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled every prophecy that was to be fulfilled by the Messiah while on earth. This Jesus also demonstrated great power when He defeated death by resurrecting from the dead on the third day. I would also challenge you to read through the articles on this website…which primarily are intended to defend and proclaim the truth of Christ. While we may disagree on the particulars of this issue (and while we both respect the complicated nature of this issue), we are both American citizens. Hopefully, you might just examine the truths of Christianity and find yourself on the page entitled “How to Know Jesus” right here on the website.

  2. First off, thank you for a courteous rely. It is a rarity. When I comment of this subject I am usually called something along the lines of a communist faggot and told where I can go to rot in hell. I have never seen such crude and intolerant attitudes from any other group.
    I think perhaps the focus of where we disagree is your assertion that Christians (or any other group) are having their freedom of expression stifled whenever they are prohibited from co-opting the government for their purpose. You believe that the 1st Amendment was a one way street, keeping government out of religion, but leaving the road open for Christian hegemony to plant itself and thrive. Generally, this notion is rationalized among Christians by a fervent belief that this nation was founded on Christianity and therefore it should be welcomed where any other such infusion by another ideology would be considered an intolerable trespass. I think in fact this rationalization is the reason behind this modern campaign to declare the US a “Christian nation.” However, your view of American history and the influences that produced the Constitution are no more than your opinions. They are not authoritative. They do not agree with the two founders, Jefferson and Madison, who were instrumental in shaping the relationship between church and state. And they do not agree with court decisions that find government endorsement of religion an intrusion into the proper purpose and function of civil institutions.

    Does this mean that Christianity (or any other group) are denied a “public expression of religion”? How could such a thing be claimed? The US is regarded as one of the most openly religious countries in the world. The citizens of King, NC are now showing this,with Christian flags flying on homes everywhere, Christian advertising, rallies, billboards, TV and radio coverage, churches on every corner, and on and on. To charge that religion is oppressed in King because they were not allowed to co-opt a public park and memorial simply leaves one’s head spinning. If a public expression of religion should be afforded government assistance, then I ask you where to draw the line. Should the city be officially designated as Christian if so voted on? Should the city greet visitors with signs that say “Welcome to King – a Christian Community”? Should the public schools fly Christian flags at their front entrance? Should City Hall? If you answer “no” to any of these, then I ask why? If you answer “yes” then I ask you if Christian domination is really worth it. And I remind you that that is exactly what the founders strove to abolish here in the late 18th century.

    Before I finish, I would also like to address what I consider is a misunderstanding of “secularism.” Secularism is not “anti-Christian”, nor anti-Islam, nor anti-Judaism, nor anti-Hindu, nor anti-any other religion. Secularism demands that all religious beliefs (including non-beliefs) be equal before the law. Freedom of conscience demands that. No religion can be lifted to privileged status without negatively affecting all others. In a nation based on freedom, religion must be voluntarily followed by those whom choose to follow it. Government, on the other hand, has power and authority. Its laws are not voluntary. Government gets its authority to govern not from a god, but by the consent of the governed. Religion CANNOT be allowed to share in that power, as it once did. The overt demands that this be a “Christian” nation, as well as the insistence that the church should have open access to the state is not an attempt to promote religious freedom for all, but rather a grab for dominance and Christian supremacy. A secular government, in matters of religion merely says “NO COMMENT,” leaving religions to develop their followings on their own, not entangling itself with their doctrines.

    I am puzzled where you believe in my letter to you I “defended the rights” of “Muslims and the like, while criticizing Christians for doing the same.” Where did I do anything of the such? I hold all religions should be given equal status, that no beliefs should be given special status, and that there should be separation of all religions from civil government.

    Thanks for your offer to find Christ, but it seems a bit presumptuous of you to assume I am an atheist just because I regard separation of church and state as paramount in providing freedom of religious thought for all citizens. When I umpire a softball game for my school’s team I still think we should only get three strikes per batter and three outs per inning….just like the other team. I cannot see the integrity in giving preferential treatment, no matter what lengths one goes to to rationalize it.

    Sincerely

    1. Normally, I do not allow comments that contain questionable language, but I will make an exception in the case of your last post as it demonstrates the need for Christians to be winsome in their rebuttals. Let me first of all apologize on behalf of all the rational and reasonable Christians for the comments made by those you reference. That being said, let me offer a few brief comments in reply to your last post.

      First, I never said that this was a “Christian” nation, just that the majority of the founders were Christian. Jefferson and Franklin were deists. Thus, they believed in Hod, but not that God was personal. However, contrary to what many have postulated, Washington was a devout Christian. This insight comes not from second-hand sources, but from having read Washington’s own writings.

      Second, I would actually agree with part of your comment concerning that the state cannot endorse any religion, but that includes secularism.

      Third, your use of “secularism” in your post is somewhat different than it is normally used. Secularism is normally used in philosophical circles in referencing a modern push to silence religion. It is often used in reference to atheism and/or agnosticism…especially by those who promote such systems.

      Finally, in regard to the push against Christian rights, socialists and militant atheists (not all atheists are militant) are in fact trying to eliminate public expressions of faith. This may be a push of which you are unaware.

      But Americans need to find a way to work through their differences, while respecting our differences. This means we must allow each other to express ourselves even if it causes us to roll our eyes.

      Blessings,

      Pastor Brian

  3. I had forgotten to mention before a few corrections to your article. The veteran who finally had to bring the lawsuit is named Steven Hewett, and he did not complain about Christian flags flying in a cemetery. While he was serving in Afghanistan, a veteran’s memorial had been built on City property in a City park in King, and along with the US flag, NC flag, and the flags of the US services was flown a Christian flag, thus denoting the memorial as a Christian one. Mr. Hewett complaint was based on his having just served with soldiers who held a wide range of personal beliefs and believed that by making the memorial Christian it had thoughtlessly disrespected non-Christian soldiers and their service. I believe the steel “statue” was added later as an additional snub.

    Sincerely

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