The Mississippi state legislature on Sunday passed a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from their flag in a historic referendum on the only remaining state flag to feature the Confederate insignia.
The bill will now go to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, who has said he would sign it into law.
The legislation — which cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote — comes as Mississippi lawmakers have been weighing a change to their flag for weeks amid ongoing racial justice protests across the country. The flag, first adopted in 1894, has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner.
The bill establishes a commission to develop a new flag design without the Confederate emblem that includes the phrase “In God, We Trust.” Mississippi state voters would then vote on the new design this November, according to CNN.
Two high-ranking Mississippi elected officials last week, said the Confederate battle emblem should be removed from the state flag and replaced with the words on the state seal: “In God We Trust.”
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and state Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann made the proposal last week amid a growing controversy over the flag, which has incorporated the Confederate battle flag since 1894, Christian Headlines reports.
“We must look for a flag for our collective future to be flown over our collective assets,” Hosemann said in a statement. “… In my mind, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and state ‘In God We Trust.'”
My statement on changing the flag. pic.twitter.com/TZz7kfFbBa— Delbert Hosemann (@DelbertHosemann) June 24, 2020
On Tuesday, the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board urged the state legislature to remove the Confederate symbol from the state flag.
“Our position on this is not motivated by politics,” Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, said at a press conference. “It is not motivated by economics. It is not even motivated by athletics. Our position on this is motivated by our understanding of the teaching of Jesus Christ.”
Also this week, chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, Ligon Duncan, encouraged the Mississippi legislature to take down the current state flag.
“We are asking almost half the population of our State to salute a symbol that has (undeniably) been used for well over a century to indicate their own Country’s and State’s rejection of their humanity and equality,” he said. “This is utterly unconscionable.”