Rienzi, a small town of just over 300 people located in Mississippi is making national news after citizens protested against the removal of a Christian flag by the mayor of the town- apparently after he was threatened with a lawsuit by an atheist organization.
According to FOX News, more than 100 people turned up at a rally waving the Christian flags (a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner of an all-white base) in protest against the removal of the flag. The rally was organized at the Veteran’s Memorial Park located in the town – the same place where the atheist organization has objected to the display of the Christian flag.
According to local news station WREG News, the protests were called when local residents learned that the mayor of Rienzi was “forced” to remove the flag after he was threatened with a lawsuit by an atheist organization. In an interview with the TV station, Mayor Walter Williams confirmed the news and said the following.
“I never dreamed that something like this would have happened in a town this small, but it happened.”
However, with most of the local residents clearly backing him, Walter is hopeful of flying the flag again.
“We’re gonna fly that flag again and I’m hoping it’s not going to be long before it happens,” the mayor said.
According to Williams, he was threatened with a $500,000 lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation if he refuses to remove the Christian flag from a flagpole located in the town. After town residents came to know what had happened, almost all of them rallied on support and held a protest rally on Saturday at the end of which, for a brief time, the Christian flag was returned to the flagpole where it once flew. At the protest rally, one of the organizers Kevin Nelms told local news channels;
“I’m telling you folks I’m no preacher. But it’s going to get worse; can I get an Amen? It’s going to get worse, but we cannot bow down. We can’t lay down if we stand up till our death, that’s what we need to do. There just comes a point in time when you’ve got to be politically incorrect and take a stand.”
A protester at the event, a woman identified as Susan Woodruff added the following.
“As a proud American, but No. 1 as a proud Christian, I came today to stand up for the Lord and stand up for our freedom.”
The protest rally held on Saturday started with a group of bikers on a 12-mile ride from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. facility in Corinth, Miss., to the Veterans Memorial Park in Rienzi. The bikers also defiantly attached Christian flags to the back of their bikes. In the midst of the protest, the organizers also rehung the flag from where it was asked to be removed. However, it was removed at the end of the rally even as the residents pondered over their legal options.
Meanwhile, the town mayor has confirmed that they are taking the legal threat seriously and that they have hired an attorney to discuss further plans. A meeting is scheduled for February 7, where the town will decide next steps in case the lawsuit does indeed go through.
The organization that threatened the lawsuit against the town is the non-profit Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) based out of Wisconsin. According to a Wikipedia article about the organization, it is revealed that “FFRF promotes the separation of church and state and educates the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism, and nontheism. Founded by Anne Nicol Gaylor and her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, in 1976 the FRFF was incorporated nationally in 1978 and is now claimed to have the support of over 23,500 members.
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