South Carolina Baptist Convention leaders agree it’s time to remove the flag

Tommy Kelly, president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and Richard Harris, interim executive director-treasurer, have released a statement supporting Gov. Nikki Haley’s request to remove the Confederate flag from the state house grounds:

“Believing God created all men and women in His image, racism of any form is repulsive and contrary to our Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We support Governor Haley’s attempt to move the Confederate flag from the flag pole at the state capitol to the South Carolina State Museum. We believe such a move would promote racial unity and allow all citizens to live in increased harmony, especially in the continued presence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nation.”

Kelly and Harris emphasized that their “primary concern and agenda is the spiritual condition and well-being of all citizens of South Carolina, regardless of race, ethnicity or social status. We have no interest in promoting a political agenda of anyone relative to the Confederate flag. We honor its historical significance and believe it should retain a prominent place in the museum and archives or our wonderful state.”

The seven presidents of the institutions of the SCBC all agreed it was time for the Confederate flag to be removed from the capitol grounds: Evans Whitaker, Anderson University; Randall Pannell, North Greenville University interim; Jairy Hunter, Charleston Southern University; Randy Harling, Connie Maxwell Children’s Home; Tom Turner, Ministries for the Aging; Barry Edwards, the Baptist Foundation; and Rudy Gray, The Baptist Courier.

Marshall Blalock, senior pastor of Charleston’s First Baptist Church, stated, “For me, the key to removing the flag is the principle of love described in Romans 12:9-10. Let us honor our brothers and sisters of color by moving the flag to a museum where its historical content can be interpreted properly.”

A poll conducted by The Charleston Post and Courier indicated that 69 House members (56 percent) were in favor of removing the flag.  The remaining House members responded with no, undecided, or no answer. Twenty-nine failed to give any response.

In the Senate, 33 senators (or approximately 72 percent) favored removing the flag, with the rest responding with no, undecided, or no answer. Five did not respond.

According to a law relating to the current location of the flag, it would take a two-thirds majority from both chambers to remove the battle emblem.