The Christian flag hanging in the Unicoi County Board of Education’s public meeting room was removed Thursday and ceremonially handed over to the Unicoi County Ministerial Association, reports the Johnson City Press.
The donation followed the school board members’ unanimous approval of a resolution drafted by Director of Schools John English that stated in part “while the flag represents a faith shared by most of this community, according to federal law no government entity is allowed to endorse a particular religious viewpoint.”
The resolution began with an observation that the flag had been displayed alongside the U.S. flag in the school board’s public meeting room “for many years, largely unnoticed … as a quiet symbol of the values many in our community share.”
The resolution noted many members of the Board of Education were surprised by the objection related to them in a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s attorney, and that the objection had set off “substantial debate” within the community, and that the recommendation included in resolution was the result of discussions between the board, the schools system’s attorney and “several other organizations.“
…Immediately after the board’s approval of the resolution, English removed the flag from its stand and presented it to the Rev. Noah Taylor, pastor of Evergreen Free Will Baptist Church and president of the county’s ministerial association.
Taylor said the flag would be taken to the Unicoi County YMCA to be displayed during the association’s monthly meetings and invited members of the standing-room-only crowd in attendance at Thursday’s school board meeting to join the association in presenting the flag at the beginning of the association meetings.
FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert submitted the request to remove the flag in a letter delivered to the schools central office on Nov. 16.