NC City Ends Christian Flag Flying at Memorial

NC City Ends Christian Flag Flying at Memorial January 8, 2015

Got a message from Steven Hewett on Tuesday night saying that a settlement has been reached in his lawsuit against the city of King, North Carolina’s blatantly Christian memorial to soldiers. That settlement removes a Christian monument and gets rid of the flying of a Christian flag over the site, giving Hewett, a decorated veteran, everything he wanted.

The city council put out a press release saying that they didn’t want to settle the case, but the costs of going to trial — a trial they would almost certainly have lost — were too high and too much of a risk for the city to assume. The press release notes that the city’s insurance carrier demanded that they settle the suit or they would not pay for any judgment that goes against them, much like what happened in the Dover case. As part of the settlement, the insurance company will reimburse Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented Hewett, $500,000 in legal fees.

They have already removed a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross that was part of the memorial and agreed not to fly the Christian flag over the memorial ever again. It’s really hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the First Amendment, but the city has fought for years to maintain the memorial the way it was. Now the locals who wanted it to stay the way it was are threatening to recall the members of the city council who voted to settle the case. Of course, they would have been the first ones to throw a fit when the city inevitably lost the case and had to pay potentially millions of dollars in legal fees for both sides.

The good guys won one, finally. And as Steven told me Tuesday night, now the memorial will honor all soldiers, not just Christian ones.

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  • Don’t they know that they’re going to make God angry by doing this? It’s quite likely that there will be a typhoon in the South Pacific in retribution. Either that or someone will manage to blame hurricane Sandy on this — God knew that we were going to blaspheme and so punished us in advance.

  • Sea level rise in North Carolina is expected to outpace the global mean, if memory serves. Divine punishment for blasphemy, perhaps? (I mean, apart from the fact that the same people who would support gestures of Christian(ist) hegemony are the same people who not only are likely to reject the facts of global warming which undergird our understanding of North Carolina sea level rise, but who also are likely to be the types who support hampering North Carolina’s ability to adjust to sea level rise.)

  • …now the memorial will honor all soldiers, not just Christian ones.


  • John Pieret

    From the story in the Winston-Salem Journal:

    Council members Charles Allen and Mayor Pro Tempore Dillard Burnette voted in favor of settling, while Brian Carico and Wesley Carter voted against it.

    Mayor Jack Warren broke the tie, voting in favor. …

    Carter and Carico spoke in defense of their position against the settlement but said they had no hard feelings toward their other council members.

    Carter said, “But I do feel that this city has been sabotaged and has been bullied by folks that don’t believe what this community stands for.”

    Carico got choked up as he talked about the sleepless nights he and other council members had endured.

    Carico said he believed that the city did not do anything constitutionally wrong and that he could not vote to have anything removed. He also indicated that his Christian faith played a role in his decision. …

    David Keaton, pastor of Missions Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a King resident, said it was a sad day in King. He said God had blessed King, and that the city did not need to turn its back on Him.

    And despite those kinds of statements, they probably still don’t understand why they were going to lose.

  • whheydt

    Hmmm…. Perhaps the best weapon in the free thought arsenal is insurance companies. Oddly, that would put the current SCOTUS on our side…said companies are “big business”.

  • Michael Heath

    Winston-Salem Journal reports [h/t John Pieret]:

    [Council member Brian] Carico [who voted to fight rather than settle] said he believed that the city did not do anything constitutionally wrong and that he could not vote to have anything removed. He also indicated that his Christian faith played a role in his decision.

    And this is where the press fails us. A competent reporter would have scrutinized Mr. Carico’s absurd claim that his position didn’t violate the U.S. Constitution. He, and tens of millions of other conservative Christians, are not challenged when they claim their Christianism is not in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    And it’s not like conservative Christians are the only group enjoying the privilege of a pass. The press refuses to question President Obama, to his face, for his failure to uphold the 4th Amendment or criminally investigate the Bush Administration for its use of torture.

    In both cases the press serves as a vehicle for tyrannical practices to go unquestioned to those who practice tyranny. So the press instead serves as a successful marketing outlet for tyrants. In this case the article Pieret linked to never even explained why it was obvious to the experts that the city of King was violating the Constitution.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    Let’s hope no violent reprisals are visited upon the plaintiff in this case, as is so common with religious nutters of almost all stripes.

  • John Pieret

    Michael Heath:

    If you look through the comments to that article, you will see what would doubtless be his “explanation.” It almost always is a variation on this” ‘Why does one person’s right get to overrule everyone else’s rights?’ They never question why the majority has the right to use taxpayer’s money (including those who aren’t Christian) to exalt Christianity.

    But your point about the press is well taken.

  • Pseudonym

    What the hell is a Christian flag?

  • trapperrick

    Perhaps North Carolinians will have something else to grab their attention. I read today that a Gaston County chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans have now removed a large sign featuring the confederate battle flag which welcomed travelers into North Carolina in U.S. 321. It has been removed as it was discovered that it was located on the highway’s right-of-way. Its time now to hear a rehash of how the SCV’s 1st amendment rights are being oppressed by not being able to use the public properties to advertise their reminder of white supremacy, instead of King’s need to use public property to advertise Christian supremacy.