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Pastor defends flag arrangement



Published: Tue, January 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The flags will continue to fly as they are, the pastor said.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

POLAND -- Love your country, but honor and respect God above all other things is the silent message flying high above a village church.

Worshippers at the Margaret Wynn Memorial Baptist Church on Water Street installed a flagpole in November, but the American flag is flying second to the Christian flag, which is white with a blue patch and red cross.

The Rev. Barry Knaub, church pastor, said the flags' arrangement is fundamental to Christian beliefs.

"God must come first. Even in the pledge to the flag it says 'one nation under God,'" said the Rev. Mr. Knaub. "To us this is a no-brainer. We are not doing this to offend anyone, but we just believe that God must be put first."

Objections: Not everyone shares the pastor's view of the flag. The flagpole was put in place just after Thanksgiving, and the church has received three calls in protest to how the American flag is being displayed.

Mr. Knaub said those who call are not rude but looking to state their opinion and get an explanation from church officials.

Some people, he said, have even mistaken the Christian flag for that of an organization such as the American Red Cross.

One resident, listed in police reports only as a concerned citizen, went to police and insisted the church was committing a crime by flying the American flag below any other flag.

A village police officer reviewed the Ohio Revised Code and told the man there is no law being broken by the church.

Mr. Knaub said he is aware of a code passed by Congress addressing proper displaying of the flag, but it is not enforceable by penalty of law.

What's in code: One section of the code that Mr. Knaub refers to does state that no other flag should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the American flag.

There is an exception only for church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea. At the time, the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

There is a list of other rules to flag display covering most situations including how the flag should be displayed on automobiles. Mr. Knaub points out that many people are in violation of some of these codes and may not realize it.

Whatever the case, Mr. Knaub said the church has no intention of changing the way the flags are displayed.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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