Unicoi Co. school board votes to remove Christian flag, donates to ministerial association

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UNICOI COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – After more than 20 years, the Christian flag will no longer be displayed in a public meeting room.

The Unicoi County Board of Education voted unanimously to remove it.

Board members received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in November calling for its removal.

That group calls itself the nation’s largest order of atheists.

The foundation said the display of the flag goes against the U.S. Constitution since it was being displayed by a public entity.

The room was silent Thursday night as people watched Director of Schools John English present the flag to the Unicoi County Ministerial Association.

President Noah Taylor explained where the flag would be headed next.

“Immediately we are going to take the flag, and were going to put it at the local YMCA in Unicoi County where it will be on public display,” Taylor said.

Taylor explained the flag will have a chance to re-appear at the meetings, as they will ask congregations in the county if they want to individually bring the flag along with them.

“So for people that are passionate about it we can make sure the flag is still present at the meetings, just hosted by a private citizen,” Taylor said.

While nobody spoke out on behalf of the Christian flag, there was silent support.

Some people brought posters, flags, and even one board member was wearing a shirt with the Christian flag front and center.

English said the decision all boiled down to what was legal.

“As a governmental agency, we’re just not allowed to endorse a particular religion,” English said.

Once board members found that out they consulted with their attorneys and had to figure out what needed to happen next.

“We found out there could potentially be some serious ramifications for our district, and ultimately our students. You know we just tried to find a way that to handle this in a way, hopefully a way people could understand the position we were in,” English said.

Board members told us they have reached out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation to tell them the flag would be removed.

That group called for the flag to be removed in November.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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