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Episcopal Church Calls for Removal of All Confederate Flags; Says It's a Symbol 'at Odds With the Love of Jesus Christ'

confederate flag
The U.S. flag and South Carolina state flag flies at half staff to honor the nine people killed in the Charleston murders as the confederate battle flag also flies on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC June 20, 2015. |

The Episcopal Church, a theologically liberal denomination that has strong historic ties to the former Confederacy, voted at their General Convention in favor of a resolution calling for the removal of Confederate battle flags from public display.

"[The] 78th General Convention recognize that icons and symbols are and have always been important to the liturgical life and practice of The Episcopal Church in leading us to Jesus Christ and in inspiring us to share the Good News that is at the heart of our ministry," read Resolution D044 that was introduced by the Rev. Betsy Baumgarten.

"That as our Baptismal Covenant calls Episcopalians to 'respect the dignity of every human being' and as the fourth Mark of Mission calls Episcopalians to 'transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation,' we consider the continued display of the Confederate Battle Flag to be at odds with a faithful witness to the reconciling love of Jesus Christ …"

Reverend Gary Hall
The Very Reverend Gary Hall, Tenth Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, preaching before the Cathedral's congregation in the District of Columbia. |

Confederate imagery in the form of monuments, street names, and Confederate battle flags throughout the South has long garnered controversy.

Debates over the display of the Confederate battle flag reemerged this summer in response to the Charleston church shooting in which a white supremacist, known for his affinity for the flag, killed nine African-Americans attending a Bible study.

The Episcopal Church is not the only religious body calling for the discontinuation of Confederate flag displays on public property.

Conservative evangelical leaders like the Southern Baptist Convention's Russell Moore and the Rev. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have ushered similar calls.

"My great-great-grandfathers fought for the South under the Confederate flag during the civil war — both were wounded at Gettysburg and lost limbs," stated Rev. Graham last month.

"Growing up, many people in the South flew the Confederate flag; but I believe that it's time for this flag to be set aside as a part of our history."

Resolution D044 takes it a step further than some, calling not only for the removal of the flag from public property but also from any churches that may include it in their iconography.

"That The Episcopal Church strongly urges all persons, along with public, governmental, and religious institutions, to discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag," concluded the resolution.

In keeping with the resolution Washington National Cathedral recently stated their plan to remove two stain glass windows honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

"We can live with some contradictions until we can't," said the Very Rev. Gary Hall in a recent sermon at the prominent Washington, D.C. church.

"… there simply is no excuse for the nation's most visible church to display a symbol of racism, slavery and oppression. None."

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