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Kentucky Seminary Removes American Flags from Cafeteria
Lexington, KY, Herald-Leader ^ | 03-29-03 | Kocher, Greg

Posted on 03/29/2003 8:58:00 AM PST by Theodore R.

Seminary removes flags from cafeteria WILMORE LEADERSHIP WANTS TO AVOID 'SIGN OF CONQUEST' By Greg Kocher CENTRAL KENTUCKY BUREAU

WILMORE - Flags are just symbols, but in these days of war they are potent, emotionally charged symbols -- as Asbury Theological Seminary can attest.

American flags line downtown Wilmore, where the largest single employer is a state-run veterans' nursing home. But when American flags were put on cafeteria tables at the interdenominational seminary, administrators asked that they be removed because "God's people do not wave flags as the sign of conquest."

Later, large flags owned by the seminary representing some of the 50 nations of the military coalition U.S. allies were taken from a collection in the student center hallway and placed together in the Dining Commons.

Again, the administration asked that those flags be returned to their places among the rest of the flag collection.

Protests were voiced -- particularly on a campus chat room, where students have debated the issue.

Jason Ballmes, a Gulf War veteran and food services director, had no comment yesterday and referred questions to the administration. But he explained on the seminary's "Table Talk" chat room last week that he put the flags on the tables and was asked by seminary officials to remove them.

"A handful of people, from this country and others, felt that this was an offensive gesture and ... that being a Christian and a patriot do not go together," Ballmes wrote.

Seminary President Maxie Dunnam has taken the position that the campus is an international community, with students from 45 different countries among its enrollment of 1,440, including some of Iraqi descent and who have loved ones living in Baghdad and fighting in the Iraqi military.

In a written statement, Dunnam said: "How we deal with issues like this says something about our Christian faith -- but please don't allow yourself to believe that a person's position on this war is a measure of his or her patriotism. We are an international community, we're a part of a lot of different nations and most of us -- perhaps all of us -- love and want to serve our nation."

Student Paula Winchester said there should be more support for American troops.

"If I was there, I would want to know that my country is behind me," she said.

Ray Nothsine said he was disappointed with the administration's removing the flags because he thought it was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. Nothsine and his friend Adam Justice bring their own flags and display them on the table each time they come to the cafeteria.

"Bringing my flag to lunch each day is the least I can do to support the president and our troops," Justice said.

But Doug Baker, 45, a student completing his second year at the seminary, said he thinks the Asbury administration acted properly.

"I believe we're called to be Christians first, Americans second," Baker said. "I support the war 100 percent, don't get me wrong. But I believe the Iraqi people subject to Saddam Hussein right now are being persecuted, and they are my brothers and sisters in Christ before I'm an American. When you have students who are of Iraqi descent in the student body, I think you have to be a little more sensitive as an institution as to how you portray your message."

Now in the Dining Commons, a small candle sits on each table with a yellow ribbon. Diners are asked to light the candle and "pray together for an end to the war, the saving of human life, the safe return of the troops, and the end of human oppression," according to an "official statement of the administration" from J.D. Walt Jr., dean of the seminary chapel.

In that statement released this week to students, Walt noted that the American flag still flies on the campus quadrangle.

"Physically speaking it is the highest symbol on our campus," Walt wrote. "We support American and allied troops and their families. While we do not lend support to the leadership and armies of Iraq, we do stand in solidarity with the oppressed Iraqi people and we pray for a minimization of the loss of life among these people."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Greg Kocher at (859) 885-5775 or gkocher1@herald-leader.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: asbury; ky; religiousleft; removal; seminary; usflags; wilmore
What would Francis Asbury say today?
1 posted on 03/29/2003 8:58:00 AM PST by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.
"I believe we're called to be Christians first, Americans second," Baker said.

The problem with this statement is that the seminary seems to be saying, "We're Christians first, Americans never." If that student body is truly as multi-national as they say, then the seminary has a responsibility to tell the truth about the United States and remind these students that a "Christian seminary" would not be tolerated in many of their countires.
2 posted on 03/29/2003 9:15:09 AM PST by Leonard210
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To: Theodore R.
This is a distortion of the Christian faith in theory & practice. Asbury is very misguided in its response to this -- or at least that particular administrator is.

Preposterous that removing the flags somehow makes them more holy in the sight of God and the world. Discretion & wisdom is needed in dealing with these matters. This school / administrator used very poor judgement, and I'm afraid will pay a huge price.
3 posted on 03/29/2003 9:19:09 AM PST by Office Manager
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To: Theodore R.
>>"A handful of people, from this country and others, felt that this was an offensive gesture and ... that being a Christian and a patriot do not go together," Ballmes wrote."

Just a handful, huh? Let's take a vote! I wonder what the people who died for these scabs to have their religous freedom would say?

Or better yet, the Iraqi Christains? - the ones who are still alive!
4 posted on 03/29/2003 9:20:08 AM PST by Only1choice____Freedom (Again, protestors have NO RIGHT TO BE HEARD, only a freedom to speak.)
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To: Theodore R.
But I believe the Iraqi people subject to Saddam Hussein right now are being persecuted, and they are my brothers and sisters in Christ before I'm an American. When you have students who are of Iraqi descent in the student body, I think you have to be a little more sensitive as an institution as to how you portray your message."

Does this guy know that the name of this war effort is Operation Iraqi Freedom???

5 posted on 03/29/2003 9:31:28 AM PST by maxwell (Well I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation...)
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To: Theodore R.; Reagan79
The Freeper Reagan79 alerted the media about this outrage:
U.S. flags removed at Asbury Theological Seminary


I am a student at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore KY. I wanted to let everybody know that U.S. flags placed on the cafeteria table were ordered to be removed because of political correctness. The manager of the school cafeteria was a Gulf War Veteran and he decided to put American flags on the table to support American troops in the Middle East.

The Seminary ordered those flags to be removed and it has caused quite a controversey. Folks this is very sad when the American flag is attacked like this. Please help!!! At least call the Seminary and voice your displeasure. You can get contact info at AsburySeminary.edu


6 posted on 03/29/2003 9:35:29 AM PST by george wythe
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To: Theodore R.
Asbury-----A Proud Pro-Slavery Seminary.
7 posted on 03/29/2003 9:36:21 AM PST by cookcounty
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WILMORE, Ky., March 28th, 2003, 1 p.m.) -- American flags were removed from cafeteria tables at a theological seminary because officials said "God's people do not wave flags as a sign of conquest."

Gulf War veteran Jason Ballmes, the food services director at Asbury Theological Seminary, put the flags in the cafeteria "to show our honor and support of our troops serving in harm's way," he said on the seminary's "Table Talk" chat room last week.

"A handful of people, from this country and others, felt that this was an offensive gesture and ... that being a Christian and a patriot do not go together," Ballmes wrote.

He explained that "political correctness has entered the scene, and he was asked to remove the flags."

Seminary officials ordered the flags removed because they are "not the most fitting way of representing this conflict."

"God's people do not wave flags as the sign of conquest. We bear crosses as the sign of reconciliation," an official statement said Friday.

The statement of the seminary administration also said that people on campus "hold many different interests and positions as relates to the present war."

Steve Moore, senior vice president, said that a candle, yellow ribbon and a piece of barbed wire would be a better representation of how people at the seminary feel about the war.

"We encourage people to light a candle and pray for our troops, for peace, quick resolution to the war and to the injustice," he said.

Ballmes refused to elaborate on the incident, saying the seminary's official statement was "good enough."

"The seminary has a perfectly valid statement," he said.

Some students supported Ballmes actions.

"To have a flag of being an issue of division is a painful thing," said Sean Levine, a student and U.S. Army reservist. "We believe in a military community very strongly in what the flag stands for. They are making it to seem that this value is in conflict with the value of being a Christian."

Levine said that as an army reservist who is in training to be a chaplain, he feels "isolated and alienated on campus."

"There is also that feeling that as part of a military community, you are not appreciated here," he said.

Paula Winchester, another student, said there should be more support for American troops on campus.

"We should support them whether we agree (on starting the war) or not," she said. "If I was there, I would want to know that my country is behind me."

Jamey Lee said that removing the flags was justified by the fact that some students on campus are pacifists and some are not.

"There was a division on campus on how students feel about the war, and the flags on the tables bring to mind the disagreement we have and cause arguments to arise," he said. "It was the right decision to replace them with candles, because we all can pray for the troops whether or not we agree with the war."

Ray Nothstine said he was disappointed with the administration removing the flags because he felt it was violation of the First Amendment right of free speech. Nothstine and his friend, Adam Justice, bring their own flags and display them on the table every time they come to the cafeteria.

"We're showing our nonviolent protest just like Martin Luther King did," Justice said. "Bringing my flag to lunch every day is the least I can do to support the president and our troops."



AP


8 posted on 03/29/2003 9:41:31 AM PST by george wythe
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To: Theodore R.
Here is a clue, guys: Satan's century of anti-Christian liberalism ended with its crowning achievement--Bill Clinton. It's time to throw the evil, wacky, liberal, pro-abortion, new-age, I'm OK/You're OK, lunatice fringe out of the churches.

Let go of Satan's hand, church leaders, Jesus went thataway.

(Same modernist problem--different church.)
9 posted on 03/29/2003 9:44:18 AM PST by Thorondir
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To: george wythe
Post the info. This needs a Freep!

Onward Christian soldiers...

Haven't they heard? Our side is morally right and on God's side. Their side is wrong, evil, and insufferable.
Be a leader and do this yourself; organize protests and demand that whomever gave the order to pull those flags be fired.
10 posted on 03/29/2003 9:44:49 AM PST by Nucluside (Try Democrats For Treason and Shoot Them!)
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To: george wythe
Most religious denominations are worthless in the Iraq war, and even the war on terrorism. Dialogue, negotiation, holding hands, praying together are a recipe for the extermination of America.

If they can't support the war, then at least shut the hell up!

11 posted on 03/29/2003 9:49:28 AM PST by sinkspur
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To: Nucluside
President's Office
859.858.2202
888.2.ASBURY
presidents_office@asburyseminary.edu
Yesterday several Freepers complained that the seminary president had blocked his e-mail address.

There are other contacts available

here

12 posted on 03/29/2003 9:51:25 AM PST by george wythe
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To: sinkspur
Dialogue, negotiation, holding hands ... are a recipe for the extermination of America.

Yes, those things alone are the recipie you speak of. But you should not include praying in your list of the useless. Praying must go along with good solid action.

"Pray as if everything depends upon God, and act as if everything depends upon you." --St. Augustine of Hippo
13 posted on 03/29/2003 9:57:44 AM PST by Thorondir
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To: Office Manager
Asbury was originally Methodist. Francis Asbury was an earlier "circuit rider." When did Asbury become non-denominational? Wilmore is in a conservative area. Isn't Ernie Fletcher its congressman?
14 posted on 03/29/2003 10:02:41 AM PST by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.
Here's President Dunnam's statement on the war...
PRESIDENT DUNNAM'S CHAPEL ADDRESS, MARCH 20, 2003


We all come to worship today with heavy hearts. The war rages. Men and women are losing their lives. The toughest part has just begun and the end is not in sight.


Through the ages, like many other issues, Christians have differed in their response to war - and the debate goes on. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction combined with religious and ideological conflict in the world make the issue of war more ominous than ever before in history.


Sometimes I wish I were a pacifist - and sometimes I wish I had a brilliant philosophical mind to accept and even spin a just war theory for times like these. But neither is the case - and maybe that's good - for both pacifism and just-war theories are ideology. Jesus is not interested in ideologies, especially as they keep His people from trusting completely in Him.


God understands and accepts our feeble, stumbling limitations in seeking His will. What He desires is our trust and dependence in His love and on His power.


We will continue to call the community to prayer - particularly to prayer and fasting the noon meal each Thursday. As you know, there have already been specific times of dialogue - as students express interest, we will hold additional ones. Hopefully all interested people in the community might participate.


My plea to the community is twofold. First, pray. We're hopeless in this situation - but God is sovereign. He has used occasions like this in the past to demonstrate His love and power. Let's stay on our knees. If we have not already done so, we're going to put on the tables in the dining commons a small candle - we hope that at the beginning of each meal people seated around a particular table will light the candle and pray together for an end to war, and the return of troops, and the end of oppression.


Two, exercise love, patience and acceptance of one another as you dialogue about the issue. Christians can differ in the Spirit of Jesus. We've all experienced that. I had great differences with people in my congregation during the civil rights movement of the early '60s in Mississippi. Some of you know the story that one of the men in that congregation - who years ago could not understand my position on that issue - has established a Chair of Prayer and Spiritual Formation here at the seminary, thirty-five years later. He was a Christian and I was a Christian - though we differed on a crucial issue.


Christians can differ in the Spirit of Jesus. No matter how strongly we feel about the present issue - either way - we don't have to be angry, accusative, bitter, and blaming. We are a Kingdom community. How we deal with issues like this says something about our Christian faith - but please don't allow yourself to believe that a person's position on this war is a measure of his or her patriotism. We are an international community, we're a part of a lot of different nations and most of us - perhaps all of us - love and want to serve our nation. But we need to remember that God is sovereign over all nations and we pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done in all circumstances.


15 posted on 03/29/2003 10:05:38 AM PST by Dscott_FR (aaah yes....seems like it was only yesterday...)
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To: Theodore R.
The Administration here not only has it's facts wrong (there is no war of conquest taking place), but it also has it's theology wrong.

These guys are total heretics. They should be bannished. God does not favor them anyway!

16 posted on 03/29/2003 10:07:28 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: Dscott_FR
AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON THE WAR IN IRAQ

March 25, 2003


We live in troubled and very complex days. At Asbury we want to make a thoughtful and sensitive response to the ongoing war. In our search for appropriate symbols, discernment tells us flags are not the most fitting way of representing the response of our campus community to the conflict in Iraq. A further confirmation of this decision was the order coming from the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief of the United States military, to lower the flag raised by Marines over Umm Qasr as a sign of respect for the Iraqi people. This war, according to those who lead the fighting, is not about nationalistic conquest but the liberation of a people under oppression.

The people who make up the seminary community hold many different interests and positions as relates to the present war. Most notably among us are numerous families who suffer as their loved ones: sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and mothers and fathers fight on this battle field. This is not to mention the close friendships many of us have with military personnel fighting in the war. Also notably among us are persons who are of Iraqi descent, who have loved ones living in Baghdad and also fighting in their military. Ranging from war protestors to peace demonstrators to confused observers, our population here reflects the differences found in the larger society and world. As a seminary, we honor the differences of opinion held by many among us. Our highest calling as the people of God is to love one another despite and through our differences, giving witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This happens as we seek to live together under the primary sign of our identity: the cross. At the end of the day, Gods people do not wave flags as the sign of conquest. We bear crosses as the sign of reconciliation.

Asbury Theological Seminary is an International community and we seek to be a Kingdom minded community. Citizen or not, we do live in the United States of America, hence the American flag appropriately flys on the flagpole on the quad as it has in all days past. Physically speaking, it is the highest symbol on our campus. We support American and Allied troops and their families. While we do not lend support to the leadership and armies of Iraq, we do stand in solidarity with the oppressed Iraqi people and we pray for a minimization of the loss of life among these people.

Concerning the war, we have elected to choose symbols that signify our hope for Peace and our role as Peace-Makers in the midst of war. The American flag will continue to fly above our campus as a sign of our humble gratitude to God to dwell in this free land. The rest of the flags from the nations of the world represented at Asbury will continue to stand together as originally intended, signifying the movement of Gods Kingdom in the World. For those among us who have loved ones in harms way, we invite you to record their names in the open journal in the front of Estes Chapel. In this way we can all intercede in a personal way. We have faithfully made intercession concerning this conflict in virtually every chapel service so far this year. Most recently we have declared the noon hours on Tuesday and Thursday as open times for prayer and fasting in Estes Chapel. This will continue. We implore your participation in these communal acts of response to God.

In the Dining Commons, a small candle sits on each table surrounded by razor-wire and a yellow ribbon. At the beginning of each meal, please light the candle and pray together for an end to war, the saving of all human life, the safe return of troops, and the end of human oppression.


17 posted on 03/29/2003 10:09:14 AM PST by Dscott_FR (aaah yes....seems like it was only yesterday...)
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To: george wythe
Thanks, email will be sent.
18 posted on 03/29/2003 10:11:16 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: cookcounty
KY once had a very liberal seminary in Louisville called the "Southern Baptist Theological Seminary." The seminary still stands, but it is no longer liberal. In one of the few instances where conservatives regained control of a denomination from its increasing PC-style liberalism, the seminary was "taken over" in the late 1980s by what the liberals called the "radical right." Now SBTS is about as conservative a school as there is for theological education. But Louisville, alas, remains a very, very liberal city.
19 posted on 03/29/2003 10:11:41 AM PST by Theodore R.
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From the seminary's official statement:
discernment tells us flags are not the most fitting way of representing the response of our campus community to the conflict in Iraq


Even the "peace" protestors claim to be patriotic Americans.

Why will Americans be offended by a display of the American flag?

20 posted on 03/29/2003 10:17:29 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
"First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out --
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out --
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out --
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me --
and there was no one left to speak out for me."
~~Pastor Martin Niemoller
(victim of the Nazis)

Is there anything we can learn from this?
When they came for the Catholics?
When they came for the Baptists?
When they came for the fundamentalists?
When they came for the agnostics?

Just something for all of us to think about -- is this picture larger than we currently see it?

21 posted on 03/29/2003 10:17:53 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
"...please don't allow yourself to believe that a person's position on this war is a measure of his or her patriotism."

I beg to differ on that statement. War protests at home were directly linked to our soldiers getting killed in Vietnam. The protesters created destroyed the political will to do what it takes to win the war. I will not allow this to happen again in such an obviously just cause if I can help it.
22 posted on 03/29/2003 10:20:52 AM PST by winner3000
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To: Office Manager
This school / administrator used very poor judgement, and I'm afraid will pay a huge price.

The problem with their position was the reference to "conquest." Apparently whoever made the statement tying the US flag to conquest doesn't understand what this war is all about.

I tried to email Dr. Dunnam, Asbury's President but the message bounced. If his email is blocked that is a mistake. He needs to know there are people who support Asbury but also totally disagree with the removal of the flags AND totally reject the "conquest" reference.

23 posted on 03/29/2003 10:30:07 AM PST by toddst
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To: george wythe
I'll call the pres. of the seminary the first thing Monday. He needs to know this isn't heaven, it's the US, and he better damned well not impede expressions of love and loyalty to her. I'll bet he allows our enemies to put THEIR flag on the m----- -----n tables, should they ultimately win. 'Course it'll be a muslim seminary.
24 posted on 03/29/2003 6:05:37 PM PST by Nucluside (Try Democrats For Treason and Shoot Them!)
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