Legal wins: Two fewer Christian flags fly in secular nation

FFRF complaint letters have led to removal of two Christian flags. The city of Glencoe, Ala., took down a Christian flag from in front of its police station next to City Hall, where it flew alongside the U.S. and state of Alabama flags.

Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel first wrote to the city in February about the unconstitutional endorsement of religion. “The Christian flag was designed by Protestants in the early 20th century and continues to be displayed in Protestant churches throughout the country. It features a Latin cross — the most significant symbol of Christianity. Moreover, each of the flag’s colors represents a different aspect of Christianity: Blue refers to ritual baptism in water, white to biblical conceptions of purity and red to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.”

WBRC-TV reported July 3 that the city council decided to remove the flag in mid-June after meeting in executive session. Mayor Charles Gilchrist said the city attorney told the council it could be costly to keep the flag up and end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
“I have to look out for the best interests of the city,” said Gilchrist, adding he was unhappy the flag had to come down.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State settled a lawsuit for $500,000 in January against King, N.C., which had refused to remove a flag of the same design.
Bradley County Judge Keith Neely ordered removal of an “Appeal to Heaven” banner from a courthouse flagpole in Warren, Ark. Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote Neely on June 16 that the flag was “government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”

It had been flying directly below the Arkansas state flag for about 11 months. Neely told the Saline River Chronicle in a July 6 story that a local pastor had requested the flag fly at the courthouse. The Chronicle reported Neely was told by legal advisers there could be “substantial financial liability to the county” should a lawsuit be filed. The flag’s design goes back to Revolutionary War times, but it’s now associated with the Appeal to Heaven movement, whose adherents “honor the Lord by supporting candidates for public office who are believers in Jesus Christ, who regularly attend and display a commitment to an evangelical, Gospel-centered church, and who will commit to live and govern based on biblical principles.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin railed against FFRF in a column at “The judge found himself in a tough spot, and without the budget to fight out-of-town lawyers, he was advised by the county attorney to remove the historic flag. Well, the Freedom From Religion Foundation rattled the wrong cage. This is an attack on freedom, on honoring accurate history, and is more of the fundamental transformation of America that will render us not only unexceptional, but unrecognizable.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation