Mississippi GOP Senator Calls For New State Flag Amid Confederate Debate

June 24, 2015 10:34 a.m.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Wednesday called for Mississippi to change its state flag, which contains the insignia of the Confederate battle flag, and create a new one “that is more unifying to all Mississippians.”

“After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians,” Wicker said in a statement.

The statement came after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for her state legislature to vote on removing the rebel flag from her state’s Capitol grounds, with officials in other states following suit.

Mississippi’s House Speaker Philip Gunn, another Republican, called for the state to retire its flag on Monday.

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“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” he said. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

Mississippians voted to keep the insignia in the flag in 2001. Several bills in the state legislature have since failed to reverse that decision.

Read Wicker’s full statement below:

After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians. As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive. However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others.

In I Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul said he had no personal objection to eating meat sacrificed to idols. But he went on to say that “if food is a cause of trouble to my brother, or makes my brother offend, I will give up eating meat.” The lesson from this passage leads me to conclude that the flag should be removed since it causes offense to so many of my brothers and sisters, creating dissention rather than unity.

This is an issue to be decided by the legislature and other state government officials and not dictated by Washington. If I can be part of a process to achieve consensus within our state, I would welcome the opportunity to participate.

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