From the WS Journal, By John Hinton
The King City Council voted 4-0 last night to approve a policy that eventually would let a Christian flag fly again at a Veteran’s Memorial at the city’s Central Park as a part of a limited public display allowing religious flags recognized by the U.S. military.
The vast majority of the crowd gathered at last night’s meeting — about 60 people in the council’s chambers and another 20 people standing outside the doors —was opposed to the council’s action.
Many said that the council should have immediately returned the flag to the memorial.
“It’s a shame and a disgrace,” said Kevin Winemiller of Winston-Salem, one of 20 people to speak during the meeting’s public comment period. He is a chaplain with the Army National Guard. “It’s an attack upon Christianity, and it has to stop.”
City officials said they plan to spend two months working out the policy’s details with their attorneys, and that the flag will stay down until the new rules are in place.
The issue has been a flashpoint of controversy for several months after the council decided to take down a Christian flag at the memorial.
The council had considered two other options regarding the flag — transferring the Veteran’s Memorial to a private entity such as a veterans group or upholding their previous decision to remove a Christian flag from the memorial.
Council Member Terri Fowler said she opposed transferring the memorial to a private group because it is city-owned property. Fowler and Council Members Dillard Burnette and Wesley Carter said they supported the limited-display approach as the best way to honor veterans.
“It is time to set this thing to rest and move forward,” Burnette said.
The dispute began this summer when a veteran, who lives in King, complained about the Christian flag being flown at the memorial. In mid-August, the council and the city attorney received letters from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Both groups urged the council to remove the flag, saying the flag was a violation of the First Amendment.
On Sept. 15, the council voted 3-1 to take down the flag, on the advice of their city attorney. The flag had flown next to the U.S. flag, the North Carolina state flag, the city’s flag and several military flags.
Prior to that, nearly 1,000 people attended public hearings and rallies to protest the flag’s removal. Many people showed their support by flying the Christian flag at their homes, businesses and shops.
Only a handful of King residents publicly supported the council’s decision to remove the flag.