Recent events in our country have made it abundantly clear that our “one nation under God, indivisible” is deeply wounded. We have been made unequivocally aware of significant divisions among us. As we search for ways to heal our nation, we are more aware than ever before of the need to make sure that signs and symbols designed to represent us do in fact represent all of us.
Today we come as leaders of faith communities representing thousands of Mississippians. We are asking Governor Reeves, Lt. Governor Hosemann, Speaker Gunn, and the legislature to remove and replace a symbol that has been a major source of disagreement and discontent in our state: The flag of the State of Mississippi. The Confederate Battle Flag has long been a source of philosophical, political, cultural, and racial controversy. It is time for a new flag that truly represents all of us and the values of our beautiful state.
There has never been a more fitting and necessary time to make this change. We ask that our state leaders and the legislature proceed immediately to do so. To delay doing this will only further exacerbate the deep racial divisions that have existed for 401 years.
As people of faith, we believe that repentance is a necessary part of our personal and corporate faith journey. Enslaved African’s were brought to this continent 401 years ago. A theology of white supremacy was constructed to justify this brutal kidnapping and enslavement. The most destructive war in our nation’s history was fought to protect the economic system that slavery produced. It was fought under the battle flag that is contained in our State Flag. Many religious leaders of the Confederate States defended slavery with a theology of white supremacy. We stand today as a diverse group of religious leaders saying that as a state we need to repent and make amends for these corporate sins.
The brutal public death of George Floyd by a police officer shocked the country. George Floyd’s death occurred on Memorial Day, a day that began in Columbus Mississippi with the decoration of graves of Confederate Soldiers with the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. We as Mississippi religious leaders know that much work is to be done to assure equal treatment under the law. We also know that police and law enforcement reform will only work if it is rooted in corporate racial reconciliation.
The immediate removal of the Battle Flag from the Mississippi state flag will be an important public symbol of our willingness as a state to seek repentance and racial reconciliation. We call on our elected leaders to act now.
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