A month after a North Georgia county sparked criticism by raising the Confederate battle flag over its courthouse, another flag controversy has engulfed a small Middle Georgia town.
Only this time, it has nothing to do with the Civil War.
A traditional Christian flag flying over Cochran will come down Friday after city officials bowed last week to threats of legal action and concerns over its impact on the city’s “fiscal resources.”
The controversy began early last month when the Cochran City Council voted against the advice of its attorney to fly the flag at City Hall to help promote a local Bible-reading marathon sponsored by the International Bible Reading Association.
While city officials have said local residents supported the decision, national groups including the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State said they have received several complaints over the matter. The group recently sent letters to both the city and Bleckley County — which has flown the flag in the past — declaring that flying the Christian flag on public property violates the First Amendment.
The group in part cited a recent legal case in which a North Carolina city agreed to stop displaying the Christian flag, which includes a Latin cross, at a government-sponsored veterans memorial.
In a statement on its website, the city said it has decided to take the flag down “after reviewing further input from the community, detailed written legal opinions from our city attorney and a second legal opinion from a constitutional lawyer.” The city said that in the future it will only fly the U.S. and state flags at City Hall.