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Last week, a Christian group headed by Pastor Shirley Walsh of Cutting Edge International Church raised a Christian flag at city hall as part of a March for Jesus event. Now, personally, if people want to promote, in a peaceful and respectful way, their religion, then fine. However, having a flag raised at city hall and chanting underneath it for Jesus to “save our city”, suggests a line has been crossed and that we need to have a discussion about it. Just to go back a bit: according to a website, prayerfoundation.org, “the [Christian] flag is not tied to any specific denomination or church institution; it represents the unity of all Christians despite historical, cultural, and dogmatic differences. Its simplicity makes it easily copied by any community of Christians. The Christian Flag spread outside North America with Protestant missionaries.” So there is a history of the flag, it’s just many people were unaware one existed.
What are we to say about people gathering under this flag on city hall begging for Jesus to save our city? Further, Pastor Walsh is quoted as saying: “It’s time that Christians stood up and let our city know that God loves them,” … “We just want people to bring jobs into our city, and Jesus is the answer to all those concerns: youth, our families, our marriages and things like that. He’s the answer; we want the city to know this.” In a distinctly multi-cultural city like Windsor the best that can be said is that this is just one groups opinion and I’m betting that most Windsorites will say that it is highly unlikely Jesus will actually save this city in person. What’s more likely to happen is that working people will eventually develop a response to the economic injustice besetting this city and elect a city council that will not only have the sense to see it’s crazy to allow one religious group to raise a flag at city hall, but will also start to invest in the city in ways that actually benefit the citizens: like bike paths, public transportation, funding for micro-enterprises that could lead to jobs and aggressively lobbying, not big foreign corporations, but the province and federal government for more investment in the city in the form of support for worker cooperatives, lowering of tuition, cleaning up our air and water, better settlement support for newcomers to the area, and effective campaigns to sell this city as a place to live in retirement. It’s people, working together with political power vested in the local community, not outside developers, that will save the city. The likelihood of a second coming on a cloud is an escapist delusion that simply seduces people who are frightened in a complex world of complex choices. The answer lies within us – not a faraway deity.
I believe religious doctrines, while necessary for some people in order to practice their faith, have been used as a means of social control and are increasingly becoming infused in political debates which I find frankly extremely alarming.
Anyway – that’s my take on things and to get some perspective on religious flags at city hall, Victoria Cross a Windsor activist lawyer joined us on the phone, and in the studio was Currie Jean, an organizer with the March for Myths 2012. We started off the discussion with what the city’s flag policy is:
In this clip Currie Jean explains her decision to answer to the March for Jesus:
As usual on the last Friday of the month Robert Mittag, aka Rockin Robbee comes in to the studio to play some tunes and catch us up on what’s happening around the city. Here’s his version of Ring of Fire:
Here Robbee describes his experience at the flag ceremony and how he felt as a street involved person about calls to “take back our city” from Pastor Walsh:
Sample: Love is My Religion: