October 22, 2020

Mississippi Baptists: For Christians changing flag consistent with Christ’s teachings

Mississippi’s Baptist Church leadership called for state legislators to change the controversial state flag which contains a Confederate symbol and say for Christians to standby and do nothing on the flag issue is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings.

Leaders with the Mississippi Baptist Convention in a press conference Tuesday morning announced their beliefs.

Members of the convention said the decision may not represent all its member churches and members, but that they believe Biblical scripture is clear that any impediment to bringing others to Christ needs to be removed.

The flag is one of those impediments for some, they said.

Baptist leaders called for legislators to make a change soon, to bring Mississippi together in what they believe is a “Gospel issue.”

“We believe that a change to the flag of the state of Mississippi is important,” said Dr. Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of Mississippi Baptist Convention.

Parker said since 38 percent of Mississippians are black and that a considerable number of them likely find the flag offensive.

“We would like to offer a voice of healing in the name of Jesus Christ,” Parker said. “While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of our state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hate.”

Parker said the convention board’s position was not motivated by politics, economics or athletics, but on the teachings of Christ.

“The racial overtones of the flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue,” he said. “Since the principle teachings of scripture are opposed to racism, a stand against such is a matter of Biblical morality.”

“Jesus’ ethical teaching calls us to rise above the precepts of this world to demonstrate a higher treatment of others,” Parker said.

“In Matthew 7:12 He taught us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In Matthew 22:39, He identified the second greatest commandment as loving your neighbor as yourself. It is therefore apparent that the need to change the flag is a matter of discipleship for every follower of Jesus Christ.

“For those who follow Christ to standby indifferently and allow this to exist is inconsistent with both of these clear teachings of Christ.”

Parker was joined at the Tuesday morning press conference by other Baptist leaders including former executive director-treasurer, Dr. Jim Futral.

“I love Mississippi, and I am a Mississippi Baptist through and through,” he said. “This is somewhat out of all of our comfort zone to speak to this issue, but the time is now.”

“The symbol on our flag is the living, lasting symbol of tyranny, of oppression, of slavery, and a war was fought, and the symbol remains,” he said.

“We didn’t come here to re-write history, we’re not asking you to re-write history that is an impossibility, but we can impact the future, and we can write a script for the future.”

“It’s time. It’s time. It’s time for Mississippi to be a part of a new day and a new way.