Recently, a pro-Confederacy group in Mississippi launched an effort to get a measure on the ballot in 2016 that, if passed, will establish a “Confederate Heritage Month” in the state, as well as designate English as the official state language. Among the provisions contained in the measure are requirements that whenever an American flag is displayed on a public building, a state flag of the same size must also be displayed and “whenever the pledge of allegiance to the national flag is recited, the state flag salute shall be recited immediately thereafter.” On top of that, “whenever the national anthem is played in a public venue or at a public event in Mississippi, either ‘Dixie’ or ‘Go, Mississippi’ shall be played immediately thereafter.”
Perhaps the most controversial provision of the measure is the requirement that Christianity be recognized as the official state religion, which is just the sort of thing one would expect the Mississippi-based American Family Association to embrace and support. After all, the AFA’s leading spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly said that the Constitution was not designed to protect any religion other than Christianity and that states have every right to establish an official religion.
But, amazingly, Fischer and the AFA are not supporting the effort:
Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, told CP that he questioned the need for Initiative 46.
“I’m not clear who is behind this initiative or exactly what problems they’re trying to solve,” said Fischer of the AFA.
“I will be surprised if the organizers are able to get the number of signatures they need since most Mississippians aren’t going to see the need for it. Mississippians like the state just fine as it is.”
Fischer added that many “of the provisions in the initiative would be more appropriately handled at the state legislative level if they are to be handled at all.”
“Constitutional remedies should be reserved for issues of primary importance. The issue of school mascots, for instance, doesn’t rise to that level,” said Fischer.
“Our main concern here at AFA is for religious liberty to be preserved in Mississippi, and we believe that our state constitution and the recently passed religious freedom restoration act provide adequate protection for religious freedom here in the Magnolia State.”