Disturbing and Interesting New Documentary Highlights Predominantly-Christian Community

Scott Burdick has published In God We Trust, free on YouTube, a fascinating two-hour documentary on the town of King, North Carolina, its secular minority, its Christian majority, its religious diversity, a war memorial with one too many flags. Throughout the documentary are in-depth interviews with non-Christians in the area, including Hare Krishnas, Muslims, and “dancers.” These interviews cover not just the flag issue but general questions of faith. Many might find these parts to be most interesting.

How many believe it’s time for America to quit pretending we’re not Christian. And if there’s people in King, North Carolina who don’t like that, then there’s lots of places you can move to. — David Gibbs III of the Christian Law Center speaking at a rally to enshrine the Christian flag at a municipal war memorial.

Steven Hewett, Afghanistan veteran, Bronze star honoree, and atheist in King, North Carolina, issued a complaint against the city when he saw that Christianity was being promoted by the City Council at a war memorial. Flags flew for each of the military services, along with a Christian flag. Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians who value secular government were invited to leave the city.

With pressure from the ACLU, the city decided to hold a lottery, during which, residents could request that a flag of their choice, or no flag at all, be flown in honor of a veteran they chose. The symbol on the flag had to be listed on the VA-approved emblems for burial markers. So, in a predominantly Christian area, supported by a threatening majority of Christian-nation enthusiasts, Christianity now has a permanent place on a municipal war memorial.

This issue in King is one of a long line of efforts to enshrine Christianity in government. There can be little confusion in this instance, as this is no non-denominational prayer or general religious activity. The compromise the city council chose, to hold a lottery and fly flags of choice, privileges the majority without accounting for the strong prejudice against those who would dare oppose the de-facto government religion. No flag other than the Christian flag has ever flown.

The quality and composition of the documentary are excellent, and with the variety of coverage, both of the flag issue and local beliefs, it keeps the viewer’s attention. Below is a topical timeline of the documentary for reference.

  • :00-:20 minutes: Introducing the flag issue.
  • :20-:53 minutes: Problems with Christian nation theology and Christian beliefs.
  • :53–1:08 Council decision to institute a lottery, more on Christian nation and problems with faith-based initiatives, debunking of David Barton.
  • 1:09-1:13 Rapture; 1:12 Con Man highlighting the profiteering behind the Family Radio Rapture.
  • 1:14-1:19 Issues of fear and boycotting in King NC; one interviewee opens their heart at 1:16)
  • 1:20-1:27 Inalienable rights, theocracy and theology
  • 1:27 Issue regarding the need for a light on flag
  • 1:28–1:36 religious violence and religions laughing and religions, origins
  • 1:36-1:39 submission of blank/atheist flags; George, presented often as a violent Christian, puts in submission for to commemorate his step-father. He talks about his father as a role model, and a hard worker, who adopted George, but he believes his father is in hell despite those good works. George also submitted the flag to show that the policy was too liberal in that it might allow non-Christian flags.
  • 1:39-1:43 Historicity of Jesus and the Bible. (142 stop in here for commentary from “freethinker Thor”).
  • 1:43 Video of the actual lottery selection. One Nation Under God displayed in selection room. Hewett chose to opt out of flying a Muslim flag on 9-11 and flew no flag at all for each of his 4 weeks.
  • 1:44-1:50 Krishna beliefs and prayers
  • 1:50-2:00 Christian flag goes up, victory celebration and No Flag Week. (and a Biblical justification delivered for slavery)
  • 2:01 Christmas Burlesque, conclusion


About Jason Torpy

**Comments at Friendly Atheist do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers are any other organizations.** Jason Torpy serves as President of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF), a nonprofit community for atheists and humanists in the military. MAAF also educates military leaders about the needs of nontheists and advocates where necessary. Jason is a former Army Captain and Iraq veteran with a Bachelor of Science degree from West Point and an MBA from The Ohio State University.

  • cipher

    Anyone who thinks the vast majority of conservative evangelicals don’t want a theocracy is fooling him/herself.

    • Marguerite


      It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so…” -Robert A. Heinlein

      This is why it’s necessary to keep fighting stuff like this, because yes, if they can legislate a theocracy into law, they will certainly do so. 

    • Corey

      Couldne say it better myself (unless I add curse words of course…. lol)

    • Corey

      Couldnt say it better myself (unless I add curse words of course…. lol)

  • Tez Skanza

    I lived in King for about seven years (97-03). Being a ‘Yankee’ and an atheist at the same time was – difficult.  Looking forward to watching this piece. Thank you for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    I’m about half way through, it’s pretty good. There is a pretty interesting variety of people and opinions.  It becomes very obvious that those who are the most certain in their faith/ beliefs are the most dangerous, as far as theocratic tendencies go and perhaps literally as well.  I did appreciate the Christians who expressed doubt, and admitted they do not agree with everything the bible says and wouldn’t kill people if God told them to.  I also liked that they show how other religions would pose their own rules and that would also be wrong.

    ETA: Thor is my favorite

  • Don Maxwell

    Just watched the whole thing.  Shocking how small minded people are.  I was especially shocked by the justification for slavery and the people saying they hoped they would be strong enough to commit genocide or kill their own son if god ordered it.

    I did like the way multiple relegious viewpoints were included.  It showed how crazy they all were.  It also showed though, why separation of church and state is important.  What ever your beliefs are the will always be someone else who strongly believes in something different. 

    • Anonymous

      Agreed! When the woman started justifying slavery (“Many of them lived better than they did in their home country”) I thought I must have been hearing wrong.

  • Xeon2000

    I only made it about 10 minutes into the video before I turned it off in disgust.

  • Annie

    I watched this last week when it was posted on the Rock Beyond Belief blog.  My favorite quote was from executive director of the Baptist Joint Community for Religious Liberty (didn’t know there was one!), Brent Walker, said, “I must not ask government to promote my religion, if I do not want government to promote someone else’s religion.  I must not permit government to harm someone else’s religion, if I don’t want government to harm my religion.”  The woman at the end who was happy to let her bible justify slavery was just plain wacky.  I can’t remember her exact words, but she said something along the lines of it being OK, ‘if you had a lot of land and there was a lot of tobacco or cotton that needed to be picked’.  ?????

    • Erp

      The Baptist Joint Community for Religious Liberty has existed for some time though the Southern Baptist Convention cut ties in 1991 (most of the other major US Baptist Conventions belong).   Many Baptists are for religious liberty partly because until fairly recently they were a minority (and one, heaven forbid, that didn’t practice infant baptism so put those poor unbaptized kids in risk of hell) or if a majority did not hold political power. 

      • Annie

        Yes.  It makes sense that there is such a group, but living in the South, I just never thought anyone would join.  Baptists here are the big dogs.  The baptists were persecuted in colonial times, along with the Quakers (who could ever dislike the Quakers???), but I didn’t think anyone remembered this.

        • Erp

          Baptists apparently vary especially since each congregation is independent and might well fear that another congregation with differing views might try enforcing its doctrinal views using the power of the state.  Brent Walker according to his biography is from West Virginia and lived in Florida, Kentucky, and now Virginia.

          Quakers were a bit more evangelical in the 1600s and they fail to give extra respect to social superiors (they treated them as equals).   They were also inclined to let women speak (look up Margaret Fell for an early example as well as Elizabeth Fry, Lucretia Mott, the Grimke sisters, etc) at a time when women publicly speaking was considered scandalous.  They tend to take positions and hold them tenaciously (some Quakers were imprisoned as conscientious objectors during various US wars, some refuse to pay the part of their taxes that would go to support the military).   Speaking truth to power is important to them even if it makes them unpopular.  Quakers, however, are very scarce in the South (actually they are very scarce, the world total is about 350,000 and only 86,000 or so in the US) though Greensboro has a fair number.  

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      And how being gay is obviously worse, since it’s actually banned in the bible, while slavery is not.

      Also stunned at the number of people who say they would kill their kids if they thought God wanted them too.  I call that a brain tumor away from murder.

      High point for me was the Christian woman laughing that Ganesh was obviously a myth.  I mean, you can’t have a person with an elephant’s head for goodness sake!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I JUST started, and immediately 0:40 gave me flashbacks of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TJLOGI2Odc#t=1m19s

  • Bart Mitchell

    This was a real interesting video to watch.  I’d really like to hear how Christians view this movie, because from my view, all the Christians came off as either ignorant, bigoted or intolerant .  

  • Beautdogs

    Wow.Wow wow wow.  I was transfixed. Burdick did a brilliant job putting that together. What a cast of characters from reality-land–that scary-fundie NC Representative Bryan Holloway, the crazy dumb preacher Robin, the sweetfaced brainwashed Mormon Bryan–along with Rev. James Dunn and the Rev. Barry Lynn–both lucid and reasonable as always.  Love how the preacher Robin told the story of how she got a big bill and prayed, “Jesus, you’re gonna have to pay this bill because I can’t” and the next week she got a tax refund check for the exact amount. Hallelujah, Jeebus pays bills!  And the whole lot of them save one said that if asked by God to kill their child or their whole family or village, they would.  I’d love to know more about the story behind the story, how Burdick got into film making and this one in particular. It would be very cool if he’d do another documentary about Rock Beyond Belief! There’s a story there too, unfolding every day… 

    • Scott Burdick

      You read my mind. I’m just starting a documentary on RBB, as well as one one the Reason Rally in Washington the week before. 

      Thanks you Justin for the wonderfully written review and for all the kind words from everyone on the film!

  • Wintermute

    Wow, I found myself yelling at the screen for much of that. So much ignorance, and bigotry, and just plain nastiness. Anybody who claims that religion is necessary for moral behavior should take a look at King, NC, and see just how wonderful religious folks can be. Though, to be fair, Reverends Dunn and Lynn were both amazing in their defense of religious freedoms.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

    My favorite part was when George said he knew his step-father was in hell because he was an atheist and like all atheists he was “self-centered”. George then goes on to say how his step-father was a good man, hard working, a good father who took care of his family and step-children. 
    Wow, a man who works hard to raise, love and take care of children that aren’t even his own; what a self centered asshole.

  • Anonymous

    This made my head explode multiple times. Such bigotry.

  • Anonymous

    This was a bit scary to watch.  These people essentially wished to force their religious beliefs on others thinking they were right and that they were following the word of God, end of conversation.  What I am seeing in the Republican candidates is that we are slowly becoming a nation of Christian bigots and other beliefs be damned. So much for relgious freedom that this country was really founded on.  Reminds me of the inquisition of the Catholic Church.  People take no time to actually dig into their various religions to see if they really are God inspired or simply man-made.   If they did, their views might be completely different.  However, most people are satisfied to sit back with what they have been spoon fed all their lives and and take that as gospel based on faith alone.  Funny, Archey Bunker called faith believing in something so rediculous that no one in his right mind could ever believe it.  Yet, Creationists want their faith in a creator taught in a science classroom as an alternative theory to evolution when they don’t understand that evolution has been shown to be fact whereas creationism is merely based on faith.  I have sent link to this video to all my friends including my right wing religious ones. 

  • Anonymous

    This was a bit scary to watch.  These people essentially wished to force their religious beliefs on others thinking they were right and that they were following the word of God, end of conversation.  What I am seeing in the Republican candidates is that we are slowly becoming a nation of Christian bigots and other beliefs be damned. So much for relgious freedom that this country was really founded on.  Reminds me of the inquisition of the Catholic Church.  People take no time to actually dig into their various religions to see if they really are God inspired or simply man-made.   If they did, their views might be completely different.  However, most people are satisfied to sit back with what they have been spoon fed all their lives and and take that as gospel based on faith alone.  Funny, Archey Bunker called faith believing in something so rediculous that no one in his right mind could ever believe it.  Yet, Creationists want their faith in a creator taught in a science classroom as an alternative theory to evolution when they don’t understand that evolution has been shown to be fact whereas creationism is merely based on faith.  I have sent link to this video to all my friends including my right wing religious ones. 

  • Rob

    @Tez ME TOO..i moved away last year because of this. It was like the crusades.

  • Steven Hewett

    Thank you posting this on you web site and I would like to thank everyone for your comments and support for this cause.


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