PEMBROKE, Ga. — A prominent professing atheist organization is seeking the removal of a Christian flag from a county courthouse in Georgia out of its assertion that its presence is unconstitutional.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter on July 6 to the clerk of courts at the Bryan County Courthouse to demand that the flag be ejected from the courtroom. The flag—a white and blue flag with a red cross first created in 1897 to honor the Christian faith—sits in the corner by the judge’s bench.
“It has been said that the white in the flag represents the biblical conceptions of purity, the blue in the flag represents the baptism in water, and the red color of the cross is symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made when He was crucified,” attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote.
“The inherent religious significance of the Christian flag and Latin cross is undeniable and is not disguisable,” she said. “No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the flag stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity.”
Cavell asserted that the flag is therefore a violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
“The display of these patently religious symbols on county property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause,” she wrote.
FFRF is consequently seeking the removal of the flag, as it believes that it sends a “theocratic message of intimidation to non-Christians” and “favoritism to Christians.”
It is not yet known how Rebecca Crowe, the Byrant County clerk of courts, will respond.
As previously reported, the Georgia state Constitution, first formally written in 1777—just one year after the founding of America—acknowledged Christianity and required its leaders to be Christians.
“[W]e the people of Georgia, relying upon the protection and guidance of almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution,” it reads. “The representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county, who shall have resided at least twelve months in this state … and they shall be of the Protestant religion, and of the age of twenty-one years…”
“[L]et us not forget the religious character of our origin,” American statesman Daniel Webster also declared during his famous “Plymouth Oration” in 1820, less than 50 years after the nation’s founding. “Our fathers were brought hither for their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political or literary.”
However, as previously reported, a city council in Georgia voted last year to remove its Christian flag from outside city hall over fears of a legal challenge. The city had received a demand letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, but it is unknown how much influence the letter had on the decision.