A town in Georgia has received nationwide controversy after it started flying the Christian flag in addition to the American flag.
According to Kristina Torres of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cochran City Council voted to fly the flag at their City Hall as part of a promotion of a local Bible-reading marathon sponsored by the International Bible Reading Association. The council initially ignored the advice of its attorney in its decision to fly that flag, but it later decided to take it down this week.
"The City Council voted 4 to 1 at a Special Called Meeting on April 28, 2015 to rescind the motion to exclusively fly the Christian flag 24/7 from the flagpole at City Hall and remove the flag effective May 8th," Cochran wrote in a statement on its website. "The only flags that will be flown from the flagpole at City Hall will be the U.S. and State Flags."
Torres reported that according to city officials, local residents supported the decision. However, outside groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is based in Washington, have received complaints over the matter.
"The group recently sent letters to both the city and Bleckley County - which has flown the flag in the past - declaring that flying the Christian flag on public property violates the First Amendment," Torres wrote.
According to Torres, the Washington-based group cited a recent legal case in North Carolina, where a city there agreed to stop displaying a Christian flag at a government-sponsored veterans memorial.
On its website, the city decided to take the flag down "after reviewing further input from the community, detailed written legal opinions from our city attorney and a second legal opinion from a constitutional lawyer."
According to Devin Logan of Newsmax, the Christian flag is not tied to any specific Christian tradition. He elaborated on the history and meaning behind its symbolism.
"White stands for purity and peace; blue represents truth, fidelity, and baptism; and red symbolizes the blood shed by Christ on the cross," Logan wrote. "Some of the controversy surrounding the Christian flag stems from its resemblance of the American flag."
Logan reported that the idea for a Christian flag came from an impromptu speech from superintendent Charles Overton back in 1897. He proposed making a flag that would stand for Christianity after talking about the significance and symbolism behind them.
"The Christian flag is uncontrolled, independent, and universal," Logan wrote. "Its universality and free nature is meant to symbolize the nature of Christianity."
However, Logan pointed out that even the pledge to the Christian flag has its own controversy. After all, it did share the same red, white and blue colors present in the American flag.
"The pledge to the Christian flag closely resembles the pledge of allegiance to the American flag," Logan wrote. "Some people view the Christian flag and its pledge as too closely connecting faith and patriotism."