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Possible settlement over Christian flag issue at King war memorial angers citizens

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KING, N.C. -- Freedom of religion is at the center of a move being considered by the city of King that would ban the Christian flag from being flown at the War Memorial.

That ban would be in response to a lawsuit filed against the city by Steven Hewett, an Army veteran who served in the war in Afghanistan. Hewett argued that the city is breaking the law by flying the Christian flag a majority of the year. He also objects to secular imagery like a statue in which a soldier is kneeling before a cross.

The city of King uses a lottery system to determine who gets to choose which flag to fly at the memorial site. The policy was adopted after the lawsuit was filed and has been in place for a few years.

“In the small town of King, the majority of people are Christians -- that's been proven based on the lottery system,” said Wayne Mickey, who owns Mickey and Company Hair Designs, a salon that’s been in King for 37 years.

Mickey said the focus of the memorial shouldn’t be on what flag is flown but on honoring veterans.

“This flag is representing a religion, which is Christianity but it doesn't represent God. It doesn't represent Jesus. It represents the idea of Christianity,” he said.

Others believe the flags should stay because the memorial was developed and paid for by the community, even though it sits on city land. They say that gives the public the right to decide the fate of the flags.

“Just from the information that I've gathered I think [the city council has] come to some kind of settlement in mediation,” said Stephen James, an Army veteran who helped coordinate the memorial.

On Tuesday, King council members decided to postpone action they had gathered a special, closed doors meeting to discuss. The mayor said the council wants more time to study the issue. They offered no further details on what new action may entail.

The meeting next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 6. Public comments on the issue are welcome according to city council members.

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