The Symbol of the Confederate Flag

By Tony Kireopoulos

A symbol is important. It represents what we believe, and it drives us to action in the name of that belief. It also does more than that: in the original sense of the word, a symbol makes the subject of that belief a present reality in the hearts and minds of those who look to it for meaning.

I’ve been thinking about this since the debate over the Confederate flag began after the shootings at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston. Contrary to those who claim its protection as free speech under the First Amendment, many voices have called for its removal from state houses and store shelves; many others have called for a subsequent debate of the race issues underlying the situation. I myself at first wondered about the effectiveness of pulling the flag from public view; to me, it initially seemed to be a relatively minor action compared to the gravity of what is happening in our country in terms of race these days. And yet, if I think about the Confederate flag as a symbol – not just one representing the South, but one making the reality of racism, intolerance and oppression present in the hearts and minds of many who fly it – I find myself also advocating for its removal.

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NCC Grieves With Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA expresses its deep sadness at the news of the mass killings last night at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We extend prayers to the families of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, his sister, and all others who died in another senseless mass shooting in our nation.

Every death as a result of gun violence personally affects the churches in this country, but these shootings are felt even more personally by members of the National Council of Churches as the African Methodist Episcopal Church is a founding member denomination and has three representatives on the Governing Board, including Rev. William Miller, pastor of St. John AME, just west of Charleston.

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Protestant and Orthodox Communities Applaud Pope's Encyclical on the Environment

Welcome Francis into a Long Line of Faith Leaders and Traditions Who Call for Stewardship of Creation

WASHINGTON: Standing in solidarity with their Catholic brothers and sisters, the National Council of Churches and Creation Justice Ministries express excitement and hope for Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Acknowledging that Francis is a holy figure to millions of Americans and over a billion people around the world, this church document has the ability to reframe the debate about environmental protections and climate change away from being political and toward a conversation about moral obligation and right relationship with the Creator.

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Interfaith Letter to President Obama on the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar

Dear President Obama,
We write to you as Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders in the United States to urge that immediate action be taken to save the lives of thousands stranded at sea in Southeast Asia. It is a moral imperative that the United States do everything in its power to implore and support Southeast Asian governments to launch an immediate search and rescue mission to prevent an impending mass atrocity at sea.  It is also crucial that the U.S. government address the root cause of this crisis, the policies of persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority by the government of Burma.

Read the letter

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