Why the entire town of King NC rallied against an atheist Afghan War hero

Almost the entire town it seems, anyway.

Afghan War veteran – Steven Hewett – demanded that the city remove the Christian Flag that was raised over the public memorial to veterans like him. They called him a coward, and threatened to beat him up (and the handful of other supporters). They demanded that people like Steven be run out of town so that any pending lawsuit would lose its legal standing.

Clearly, they are fueled by the history revisionism of Liars for Jesus like author David Barton. (‘Merica is a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson ordered the Marine Corps band to play at the Sunday church service in the Capitol Bldg… etc.) Weird little half-truths so brutally distorted that they only convince those who actively want it to be true.

A Senator and a NC Representative joined a rally against Hewett’s efforts, on stage. It was pretty damned offensive:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/8ucVDpmFz-E#t=941

Please watch the entire film In God We Trust (above – free on YouTube), and ‘like’ the Remove the Christian Flag from King Facebook page created by Steven Hewett. Let this brave hero know that you give a shit!

From the film-maker:

When I was given a DVD of a protest rally in the small town of King, near where I live, I was shocked by the sight of five thousand people waving Christian Flags and cheering one of the speakers when he said that everyone there should “encourage” those who weren’t Christian in the area to move somewhere else.

My first reaction was anger and I told my wife, Susan, we were going to put our house up for sale the next day and move somewhere more tolerant. But the next morning, I decided that I would do something else first. I took my video camera down to the Veteran’s Memorial in King’s Public Park and started interviewing people.

Steven Hewett afghan war vet and foxhole atheistI learned that the rally had been ignited by a returning Afghanistan Veteran who threatened to sue the town if they didn’t remove the Christian Flag from the public Veteran’s Memorial.

I was surprised that most residents believed that Separation of Church and State is a myth and that the Founders intended this to be an officially Christian Nation. They quoted so many historical facts from a man named David Barton to back up their claims, that I really wondered if what I’d taken for granted might be incorrect.

And thus began a year-and-a-half journey in my spare time to find out the truth and source of the idea of Separation of Church and State, as well as interviews with half a dozen different religious groups in the area about what and why they believed what they do. The story quickly became as much about what we believe about God as what we believe about the Founders of the United States — and how we evaluate truth itself.

Although I started the project out of anger, I ended up truly liking the people I interviewed on all sides of the issue and it helped to diffuse my own negative emotions to the point where I felt a responsibility to honestly represent the viewpoints of even those I disagreed with the most. To that end, I have not done any narration, but have simply let the people themselves give their opinions in their own words. I will leave it up to you to decide who you agree with.

This was just me with a camera on my own, so it is definitely not a professionally produced documentary, but I hope some will find it as interesting a subject and as much an education as I did in making it.

Scott Burdick

“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” - Ayaan Hirsi Aliss

About Justin Griffith
  • Randomfactor

    We’re going to have to fight this same fight over and over and over. There seems no limit to ignorance.

  • movablebooklady

    Neither Steven Hewett nor the Remove the Christian Flag pages are on Facebook now. There is however, a page about the successful efforts of the King NC christians to have the flag put back over the memorial, all dated Jan. 2011.

  • Matt

    I found it ironic that this was one of the advertisements here in the land of healthy skepticism:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v715/johnson542/25790ab6.jpg

  • Justin Griffith

    @movablebooklady #2:

    The pro-steven facebook page is still there, and the URL was sent to me by Steven himself.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Remove-The-Christian-Flag-From-King/142620875796110?sk=wall

  • Tony

    Justin:

    Afghan War veteran – Steven Hewett – demanded that the city remove the Christian Flag that was raised over the public memorial to veterans like him.

    -I don’t know enough about legal matter to know if Mr. Hewett has a case here, but I certainly agree with him that the flag should be removed. It’s an insult to all those that served who were *not* Christian.

    They called him a coward, and threatened to beat him up (and the handful of other supporters).

    -What scum these people are. I bet many of them have shouted “support our troops” in the past. Where’s that support now? I will never fathom the mind of someone who wants to bring physical harm to someone else simply because they have a differing opinion.

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Bart

    Why should any of us be surprised?

    Christians despise anyone who doesn’t accept their belief nonsense. They despise atheists in particular.

    They deny historical fact, see intellect and education as a threat and ignorance a virtue; know nothing of the Constitution, know even less of Jefferson’s (and others) writings on the Wall of Separation; get all their news from talk radio; and are largely of diminished IQ compared to the national average.

    Add to that being Southern, and you have a recipe for lies, hate and violence. “Good Christians” is largely an oxymoron, but is a viable synonym for “hypocrisy.”

  • annie

    Just finishing up the video… a lot of crazy things were said, but I’m still floored by the woman who wouldn’t say slavery was immoral… just because it was in the bible!

    If you are in touch with Steven Hewett, please thank him for his service for me. It saddens me to think his fellow townspeople can’t look past their differences and realize all he (and many other soldiers who do not share their views) have done for our country.

  • movablebooklady

    Sorry. Guess my searching skills aren’t so good as I didn’t get either one. Just ignore me.

  • movablebooklady

    I figured it out — the page name has hyphens, which I hadn’t noticed. Anyhow, I’ve liked the page now so all is well.

  • Jack

    I find it ironic that they would call someone standing up for their beliefs in opposition to a majority a “coward.”

  • Matt P

    Bart says:

    Christians despise anyone who doesn’t accept their belief nonsense. They despise atheists in particular.

    They deny historical fact, see intellect and education as a threat and ignorance a virtue; know nothing of the Constitution, know even less of Jefferson’s (and others) writings on the Wall of Separation; get all their news from talk radio; and are largely of diminished IQ compared to the national average.

    Bart, I understand why you are saying that, but it is not true. I don’t want to “No True Scotsman” on everyone here and say they aren’t real Christians, but you are painting with a broad brush and using the “kissing cousin” of the scotsman fallacy – the strawman.

    There is no single Christian belief – despite the hijacking of the Right by some Christians – and there never will.

  • jakc

    WTF is a Christian flag in the first place? Yeah, yeah I can follow the links and find out, but it just seems stupid. Sheldon Cooper has a flag too, but that’s a joke. Religion is bad enough, but do we really have to worship flags?

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Ayaan Hirsi Aliss

    Where did those extra letters at the end come from? I’ve always seen it spelled Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    P.S. That looks like a great video. I hope I can find time to watch the whole thing.

  • A Bear

    The decent people of N.C. must be terribly embarrassed by the actions of this mob of imbeciles. To think this poor guy returns home after fighting the Taliban to be attacked by the xtian Taliban.

    The new tourism ad for this area will have to read “Carolina is for loathers”.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Matt P

    Lets put it this way: When Muslims don’t stand up against their extremists we can see if they do they lose their community, get serious death threats, in fact a lot of them get murdered, and they aren’t particularly supported by anyone outside their community who isn’t out to use them for propaganda purposes.

    Consider how many of the traditional left were very, oh so very, quick to slam Rushdie. Or Ali Hirsi’s life story.

    Yet we generally don’t cut the moderates any slack for keeping quiet.

    These Christians who are supposed to be such nice people – I don’t see them speaking up and they don’t face half the shit “moderate Muslims” face. Pardon me for not having much sympathy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.orsi anneorsi

    Loved the child’s question at 1:42:47 – “Is Santa Claus real like Jesus is real?”

    Yes, sweetheart. Exactly like that.

  • Aquaria

    What’s funny is the christards waving their traitorous flags are the same idiots who gripe about Mexican-Americans waving the Mexican flag at rallies and marches.

    What’s the difference?

    One is a group showing pride in their heritage, and the other is a bunch of delusional toothless cousin-humpers advertising their stupidity.

    It’s not the Mexicans who are the dumb ones, by the way.

  • Aquaria

    Bart, I understand why you are saying that, but it is not true. I don’t want to “No True Scotsman” on everyone here and say they aren’t real Christians, but

    Countdown to saying something that is a No True Scotsman whine in 3…2…1…

    you are painting with a broad brush and using the “kissing cousin” of the scotsman fallacy – the strawman.

    And there it is.

    So where were the “moderate” christards when this went down, eh?

    Where were the moderates who didn’t condone this action?

    Where are they in Cranston, RI?

    You know, we keep hearing about these “good” christers who do the right thing and support the right thing. But we don’t hear or see them doing these things very fucking often. They tend to sit there and say exactly jack shit, save for some lone voices way out in the yonder.

    Someone else noticed this about them, when I was a mere child:

    I had the strange feeling when I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery several years ago that we would have the support of the white Church. I felt that the white ministers, priests, and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of the stained glass windows.

    In spite of my shattered dreams of the past, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and with deep moral concern, serve as the channel through which our just grievances could get to the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

    I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother. In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, “Those are social issues with which the gospel has no real concern,” and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular.

    So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.

    That was MLK, talking about the “moderate” christers of his day, but he could be talking about them right fucking now. Because they haven’t changed. Because they care about, as MLK so astutely put it, order, rather than justice:

    First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negroes’ great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s “Counciler” or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    What’s the fucking difference?

    Stop sitting there passively, if you’re a moderate christer. Get off your fucking ass and yell at these people to quit being bigots. If you’re not a christer, stop standing up for the complacency, ignorance, incompetence, and snivellling fuckfaced laziness of people who don’t deserve to be stood up for.

    Honestly, this isn’t rocket science.

  • greensageb

    These idiots–especially those near the end–need to take the leap into the 21st century.

  • Tualha

    Bruce Gorton @16:

    These Christians who are supposed to be such nice people – I don’t see them speaking up and they don’t face half the shit “moderate Muslims” face. Pardon me for not having much sympathy.

    Aquaria @19:

    So where were the “moderate” christards when this went down, eh?

    Where were the moderates who didn’t condone this action?

    Where are they in Cranston, RI?

    You were saying?

  • Bruce Gorton

    Tualha

    While I applaud those leaders for at last standing up on this issue – do you honestly think they would have without the major opposition put to it by atheists?

  • Tualha

    Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. Neither do you.

  • Michael Heath

    Lots to like in this video though it’s too long. I did watch it in its entirety.

    I especially liked how Rep. Holloway claimed expertise in economics and history, brought up ‘In God we Trust” as a founding value, and then quickly backed down when the interviewer noted that wasn’t made our motto until the 1950s. I repeat, Holloway brought up the subject as an example of how we’re a Christian nation since the beginning, it was his example. Sheesh.

    The two women who were part of the set of primary subjects where they represented devout conservative Christians, one a preacher, were both perfect illustrations of the population of conservative Christians. One flaw in covering them was failing to ask the female preacher how she justified preaching in spite of clear, unambiguous biblical commandments women are not to preach or teach men.

  • Tualha

    What Holloway did there is a good example of the fundies’ basic strategy. Their goal isn’t religious; they just want to gain power, and religion is the means, not the end. In pursuit of this, they will do whatever they can get away with.

    When someone like Holloway uses an argument like that, it’s on a trial basis. If his audience doesn’t challenge it, great! – he’ll move on to more radical claims. If they do challenge it, he’ll back down and try another tack. If he’s consistently challenged, he’ll just go find a more credulous audience.

    The thing is, they can keep this up for a long time. In general, it’s much easier to make a bogus claim than it is to debunk it; and they’ve set things up so they can get away with being debunked over and over. It’s not like scientific research, where being caught once means your career is over; when these guys get caught in a lie, they just brush it off and say “But what about this?” and make some other claim that’s just more work to demolish. We hear the right-wing radio hosts doing that all the time. And they’ve all developed large audiences of people who are all too happy to swallow anything that agrees with their prejudices.

    So we are fighting at a distinct disadvantage. We’ve had many successes in the courts, because it’s hard to hornswoggle an experienced judge with stuff like this, and courts are all about evidence and proving your claims, and do not tolerate lying. The Dover trial is a perfect example. We’ve had much less success in the political sphere, because politics is a matter of the opinions of everyone out there, including all the people who were never taught how to think critically and don’t want to. It’s always been possible to fool some of the people all of the time, but these days, that “some” is larger than ever.

    Disclaimer: all of the above is just my opinion, formed by watching how this sort of thing has played out over many years. I can’t back it up well; I’m lousy at argumentation. All readers, beware of your own tendency to believe what you agree with.

  • Brian

    Anybody who understands the use of symbols would see how badly the situation was handled. A federal memorial should display the federal symbols most prominently, followed by state, then local government symbols (if it is a local memorial). The military symbols would come after that.

    Individual and organizational symbols should only be presented at special ceremonies with temporary devices such as wreaths. However, another possible alternative would be to allow space near the individual names to allow individual symbols to be placed next to the names. This is why crosses at military grave sites are not contrary to accepted symbol protocol.

    Symbols communicate the hierarchy of reference for the social contracts that are understood in society. Giving the Christian flag such high prominence in this situation incorrectly communicates the level to which Christians are the influencing force in deciding why and how the U.S. went to war.

    Individuals and their families might have their own personal reasons and by rights should be able to express those views through the use of their own symbols.

  • paula

    I am so glad I never interviewed with you, you have edited and distorted what these people said to make your side look better. You are a bad man Mr Bedrick but thankfully it is not up to us to judge you.

    King is still King, if you two changed anything at all it would be that you brought the Good Christian people of this town closer and now everyone can still see Christian flags all over town.

    You and Hewitt should probably consider living in a more liberal area of this geat Nation, maybe that way you guys won’t be offended by everything and everyone around you.

  • Michael Heath

    paula writes:

    I am so glad I never interviewed with you

    Who are you referencing?

    paula writes:

    I am so glad I never interviewed with you, you have edited and distorted what these people said to make your side look better.

    Please quote exactly what was distorted. And which side are you referencing, objective truth?

    paula writes:

    You are a bad man Mr Bedrick but thankfully it is not up to us to judge you.

    Ahem, you are judging Mr. Bedrick, whoever he is. He’s not mentioned in this thread until you raise his name, so perhaps you can link to whatever it was he said or wrote so we can “judge” his behavior for ourselves.

    paula writes:

    King is still King

    I agree, it’s vividly clear the community of King has learned nothing and therefore continues to promote bigotry, hatred, determined ignorance, and principles in direct violation of those asserted in the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and their roots in enlightenment thinking.

    paula writes:

    . . . if you two changed anything at all it would be that you brought the Good Christian people of this town closer and now everyone can still see Christian flags all over town.

    Is it good to hate? Is it good to advocate government power be leveraged to deny others their rights? Is it good to promote racism like the “good” Christian woman who used an old Old Testament story to justify her thinking blacks deserved slavery? Is it good to lie as the people of King repeatedly did in this video? Is it good to falsely claim black Americans had it better under slavery than they did in Africa?

    Me? I think your defense of the atrocious assertions made in this video by the Christianist citizens of King convincingly demonstrate you have no idea what the word ‘good’ actually means; or what it means to be authentically and objectively moral.

    paula writes:

    You and Hewitt [sic, it's Steven Hewett] should probably consider living in a more liberal area of this geat Nation, maybe that way you guys won’t be offended by everything and everyone around you.

    You seem to be the one offended, particularly when others demand their government not deny them constitutional rights but instead defend them. You ask residents of King to leave, a resident who served in the military, merely so that community can continue to hate others and use their local government power to deny others their constitutional rights. I have news for you, the Constitution’s supremacy clause and 14th Amendment limits local government power to deny others their liberty rights, even if hateful bigots like yourself are in the majority within that community. Without such a constitutional obligation we wouldn’t have freedom, e.g., the Civil War against thinking equivalent to your’s, but instead we’d suffer from the tyranny of ignorant majorities no better than that of the tyranny of an idiot king.

    George Washington stated:

    All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    • GoingToHeaven

      The Female Pastor is correct in every thing she says! I for one know all of you non believers ARE GOING TO HELL! Jesus and His Salvation are Real! I will not respond or argue with anyone! I KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT! God help all of you non believers!

      • Justin Griffith

        I will not respond or argue with anyone!

        Said in a response to somebody (Michael Heath). LOL, I need to clean out the spam trap more often. That one was pretty funny.

      • Michael Heath

        GoingToHeaven writes:

        The Female Pastor is correct in every thing she says! I for one know all of you non believers ARE GOING TO HELL! Jesus and His Salvation are Real! I will not respond or argue with anyone! I KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT! God help all of you non believers!

        If you were right, and an objectively moral person, don’t you have a moral obligation to defend the factual claims you make here? Otherwise you’re enabling us to continue to hold premises which will, according to you, send us to Hell. Doesn’t that refusal on your part make you partly culpable? Precisely because you had the opportunity to teach us what the truth was so we avoided such a destiny, and yet here you walk away from us in spite of the commandments in the Bible which are supposedly from Jesus on how to treat others and to teach the gospel.

        It’s been my experience that those who are factually correct are eager to defend that which is objectively true. Here you assert you will not defend your beliefs. Do you understand that your unwillingness to defend what you assert is most attendant to those who can’t defend what they believe? From my perspective that’s mostly because they can’t; because what they believe simply isn’t true. Therefore there are no independently validated facts which convincingly support their claims. But they want to continue to believe, in spite of the fact what they believe can’t meet even the merest whiff of scrutiny.


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