To: The Clarion-Ledger Editorial Board
Date: June 24, 2015
We are each Baptist pastors in Mississippi. We recognize all forms of racism as sin, and we acknowledge the sin of racism in our own hearts, in our Baptist churches, and in the people of this good but wounded state. We lament the violence and the bloodshed and also the everyday dehumanization that are the result of this vicious sin, and as the prophet Jeremiah said of Rachel, we “refuse to be consoled” so long as our brothers and sisters face any degradation.
As we seek the peace and the well-being of this good, but fractured state, we call upon Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Legislature to act immediately to change our state flag.
The current flag contains a powerful symbolic reminder of a war, waged by our own ancestors to maintain a system of chattel slavery. It evokes a history of Jim Crow subjugation of black people. It has been flown as a sign of defiance of integration, and we believe that such defiance is sinful.
In our own baptisms we promised to turn from sin and renounce evil, so as pastors we also call upon all believing Christians in Mississippi to make their voices heard and to stand up to evil. We all know that we inherit a legacy of looking away while evil has been perpetuated in our midst. Now is the time to turn away from this symbol, to open our eyes and mouths, and to speak up for what is right and true.
May our words and deeds unite with our most important state symbols to express the hospitality of our good state, creating a place of welcome for all people.
Rusty Edwards, Pastor, University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.
Jay Lynn, Pastor, St. Martin Baptist Fellowship, Gulfport, Miss.
Bert Montgomery, Pastor, University Baptist Church, Starkville, Miss.
Chuck Strong, Pastor, Olive Branch Fellowship, Olive Branch, Miss.
Gabe Swann, Pastor, Church Arise, Decatur, Miss.
Stan Wilson, Pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Clinton, Miss.
The above letter from CBF pastors in Mississippi first appeared on The Clarion Ledger website.