N.C. City Officials Try to Resolve Christian Flag Conflict

The King City Council in North Carolina on Monday voted unanimously to develop a limited public forum policy in the wake of the Christian flag controversy at a veterans memorial.

Once drafted, the policy is expected to allow the Christian flag – which features a cross – to once again fly at Central Park's Veterans Memorial.

King City Manager John Cater said the 4-0 vote on Monday authorizes Mayor Jack Warren to work with the city's attorneys, along with the Christian legal firm Alliance Defense Fund to develop the policy.

"This would be a new policy just for the veterans memorial," Cater explained.

Hundreds of King residents have held protests at the city's park since the removal of the Christian flag in September. The flag had been up for roughly six years, flying with other flags, including the U.S., state, and city ones.

But a complaint letter from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State led city officials to vote against displaying the flag. They did not want to risk fighting a lawsuit that would cost the city between $200,000 and $300,000.

Residents objected to the removal and placed their own Christian flag at the park, near to where the original once waved. Many have also hung Christian flags in home windows, store fronts, and on cars.

The ACLU argued that it is not against veterans groups displaying the Christian flag, but that it is opposed to a city sponsoring the flag. It violates the First Amendment, the group contended.

Meanwhile, supporters of the flag argued that their religious freedoms are being stripped away.

The resolution that was approved this week states that the council "wishes to develop a policy for consideration that will allow veterans and the family of veterans access to the Veterans' Memorial ... for the express and limited purpose of publicly recognizing the faith traditions that inspired and sustained the service and sacrifice made by the veterans."

A policy will be hammered out over the next two months. In the meantime, the Christian flag will stay down.

The Veterans' Memorial was constructed in 2004 on public land with the combination of public funds and private donations. Veterans' names are inscribed on quarry tiles and on a vertical granite in the center of the memorial. The Christian Flag, conceived in 1897, currently shows a white field with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton in the upper left corner.