Open Letter to Dr. Moore and Southern Baptists

Post date: May 12, 2017 5:12:49 PM

“Open Letter to Dr. Moore and Southern Baptists”

As a Southern Baptist pastor, graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity degree), proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (Jim Pearce Camp of Princeton, KY), and a lover and student of first-source-based complete history of this nation, I was saddened to the point of disgust by the anti-confederate flag resolution produced by the SBC.

I must take issue with some of the ideas expressed in Russell Moore's article appearing in the June 22nd issue of The Times Leader. I was disappointed at how such highly educated men, though well-meaning, could so misrepresent the true meaning behind the Confederate Battle Flag and turn it into a scapegoat for racism.

In his article, Russell Moore said, “...we cannot dismiss this as just about symbols. Symbols matter.” I couldn't agree with that statement more, and the ones who rightly chose and defined these symbols are the ones who used them to create the Confederate Battle Flag.

This flag, which Russell Moore called ”one lingering divisive symbol,“ actually contains both patriotic and Christian symbolism. That “X” on which 13 stars are fixed represents the Cross of St. Andrew, a Christian symbol. Those 13 stars are reminiscent of our original 13 colonies, and represented the 11 Confederate states plus the exiled Confederate governments of Missouri and Kentucky.

We are mistakenly told that the flag represents racism and hatred and that Confederate soldiers died for the cause of slavery under this flag. Actually, these states lawfully seceded from the Union when the U.S. Government failed to listen to them and truly represent their interests. This was no different from what the 13 colonies did with Great Britten. Seventy-five percent of Confederate soldiers, who proudly fought under the Confederate Battle Flag, didn't own any slaves.

Obviously, they were not fighting under a flag representing slavery or racism.

Russell Moore said, “ The Convention recognized what the flag represents, and what it says to our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ.” Did it really? I think they got it exactly wrong.

According to Moore, “The flag hearkens back to a day when in order to justify idolatrous mammonism (worshiping wealth), Southern religion wove a counter- biblical folk theology that stood on the other side of Jesus.” Southern religion? What of Northern religion? Slaves came to this nation on ships flying the Stars and Stripes, not the Confederate flag. The two largest slave markets/ports were Boston and New York City. If you want to talk about a, “ counter-biblical folk theology that stood on the other side of Jesus” the North had its fair share. Both the North and the South are responsible for the evil of slavery, but we all, as right-thinking Americans, need to disabuse ourselves of this untrue notion of the North as good and noble when it came to the issue of slavery, and the South as evil.

The Confederate Battle flag stood for the values this nation was founded upon. Thus we have that very accurate name for the War between the States: The War of Southern Independence.” It was Lincoln who, for political advantage, attempted to turn the war into a slavery issue midway through the war. Apparently, Honest Abe wasn't always so honest.

And along those lines, I question the fairness of Moore's statement that “the flag also points to years and years of domestic terrorism against African-Americans, often with threats of physical violence.” It's not the Confederate flag that is guilty, but those groups like the KKK that have hijacked and misused that flag that are guilty: By the way, the KKK has also marched with the Stars and Stripes. If it's simply guilt by association, I'm waiting for that SBC resolution censoring Old Glory. Let's be consistent.

Your article's headline did say that the cross is more important than a flag. While I agree with that statement, I don't see that the two are mutually exclusive. It might interest you to know that one of the Confederate Battle Flag's nicknames is quite appropriately “the Southern Cross.” It also might interest you to know that the Confederate Battle Flag is considered by many nations around the world to be a symbol of freedom. It was flown over the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and many Eastern Bloc nations flew it upon regaining their independence from communist oppression.

Dr. Moore, you claim that “the cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire.” I beg to differ. It was under that flag that tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers turned to Christ or rededicated themselves to Him in a great revival during the war. That is historic fact. American Indians were persecuted and killed under the U.S. Flag. Perhaps we need yet another SBC resolution.

Under the Confederate Battle Flag, tens of thousands of American Indians served, including one Indian general, Standie Wattie. And with them served tens of thousands of Orientals, Hispanics, and African-Americans. You might say that this flag that you have maligned and slandered is a multicultural banner. Those are historic facts. I believe you chose the wrong flag to blame for irresponsible racism.

Allow me to share a personal story. A few weeks ago, our church hosted an African-American guest speaker. He's a deacon in his church in Atlanta, GA and an evangelist. I hosted him in my home and we had a great time of fellowship. We fly the Confederate Flag in our front yard. He had no problem with that flag because he knows what it truly stands for.

Blaming a flag for racism out of ignorance is much like blaming a gun for criminal behavior. Will be be doing yet another resolution to not own guns? You have painted the Confederate flag , “the Southern Cross”, as a stumbling block to the Gospel. I guess that's appropriate in a way. Didn't the Apostle Paul call the cross of Christ a stumbling block for some? But it still is true and honorable. I wish I could say the same for that SBC resolution. As I said earlier, I would expect better from highly-educated men and spiritual leaders. In the name of fighting prejudice and discrimination for the Gospels sake, you have pre-judged out of ignorance and discriminated. I would not call this the SBC's finest hour, nor does it make me proud to be a Southern Baptist. I will continue to hold up the cross of Christ even as I fly “the Southern Cross,” that flag with the Cross of St. Andrew and those 13 stars. The same Jesus who said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” also said “the truth shall make you free.” Those who have brought that resolution on the confederate flag and voted for it have played fast and loose with the truth. Following the news of that resolution brought tears to my eyes, too, but for different reasons.

It was not the confederate flag that caused people to act criminally in Ferguson, MO, nor was it the Confederate flag that caused a deranged gunman to kill African-American church members in Charleston, S.C. Nor is it the Confederate flag that's responsible for the death of countless African-Americans each year by abortion. It is people's sin and failure to take responsibility for their sin. Our current president and many others have taken every opportunity to support this sort of bad behavior. Are Southern Baptists now going to do the same? Let's place blame where it belongs. The church does a disservice when it tries to fight racism and irresponsible behavior by making excuses for it. Considering the state of our churches and the multitude of sinful behavior in this world we as pastors need not jump on the politically correct bandwagon but get back to teaching the Gospel, which includes repentance from sin.

Bro. Mark Girten

Pastor, Crooked Creek Baptist Church

Marion, KY