In a move intended to foster "healing in the name of Jesus Christ," the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board officially requested that the state legislature replace the state flag with one that does not feature the Confederate flag. Adopted in 1894, Mississippi's flag remains the only one that still contains the symbol of the failed Confederacy.
Referencing both the golden rule and Christ's command to "love your neighbor as yourself," the group's executive director Shawn Parker made clear that the board's efforts were not politically oriented.
"We take these teachings quite seriously and believe that this is indeed a moral issue and a Gospel issue for our state, and therefore we want to be not a political player in the process," Parker said. "We want to be a prophetic voice, and our hope is that our stand and our conviction will bring healing to the racial tensions that are felt in Mississippi."
The statement was signed by the entire convention board, as well as the group's full executive committee and every living former MBC president since 1984. The MBC's first black officer, Larry Young, explained the biblical imperative to adopt a position of humility on the issue.
"My thought process is the Scripture clearly states that if it offends my brother to eat rice, I will not eat rice," said Young, pastor of Spangle Banner Missionary Baptist Church in Pace. "And the problem with the flag is it is offensive to some, and even though where you stand in regards to what the rebel portion represents, inasmuch as it is offensive to some, that makes it offensive to all. So I'm all for changing the design of it."
The statement from the MBC calls on all its membership to dedicate the issue to prayer and choose to stand for "unity instead of division and the Gospel of Christ instead of the power of this world."