Pastor urges Southern Baptist Convention to stop displaying Confederate flag

An African American pastor has called on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to prohibit the public display of the Confederate flag.

Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Texas, has submitted a resolution urging individuals and institutions to stop using the Confederate flag "as a step in good faith toward racial healing" in America.

The flag is one of the most inflammatory icons of American culture, and is often thought to be a symbol of racism and hatred.

"Racial tensions and ongoing bigotries are inflamed" by its use, as it has been "utilised as a symbol of racial, ethnic, and religious hatred, oppression and murder which offends untold millions of people", Mckissic told Baptist News.

The June 17 murder of nine black Christians at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, who was often pictured wearing a Confederate flag, last year reinvigorated action against the flag and what it stands for.

The state of South Carolina consequently decided to permanently remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol. It had flown there since 1962.

Now McKissic is asking the Southern Baptist Convention – the second largest religious denomination in America – to follow suit.

He urged them to acknowledge "the controversial and necessarily divisive symbol of racism conveyed by [its] ongoing display" and to "work diligently to remove vestigial symbols of racism from public life as evidence of the fruits of repentance that we have made for our past bigotries."

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, has said it is inappropriate to fly the Confederate flag, however he has not removed the names of slave-holders from campus buildings.

Robert Moore, the head of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee, said that displaying the flag "is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ".

McKissic's resolution has been submitted for possible consideration at the SBC annual meeting in June.

He said the removal of the Confederate flag is not the solution to racial tensions still present in America, but "it does symbolise another development in ongoing efforts to eliminate systematic racism that has divided our people for too long".