NC pastor causes controversy flying Christian flag above American flag; hopes to spark movement

Pastor Rit VarrialeWhile the debate over the Confederate flag rages, a North Carolina pastor is putting God before country by flying the Christian flag above the U.S. flag outside of his church causing quite a bit of controversy on social media.

Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C., held a flag-raising ceremony Sunday and raised the Christian flag above Old Glory, according to Fox 46 in Charlotte

Pastor Rit Varriale told the station the placement signifies his commitment to put “God first” and to take a stand against America’s movement away from God.

The church is taking a stand against the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, along with their strong belief that prayer should not be banned in public schools.

“[We] have senior adults in our society that remember praying and doing scripture passages at the beginning of their school day. To declare something unconstitutional, something Americans did for generations, is really ridiculous,” he said.

Church members who came out to watch the flags go up agree with the pastor. Some quoted the Pledge of Allegiance to make their case that it’s “one nation under God.”

“The value of it is we put God before country. That’s the reason we put the flag over the country,” longtime member Billy Scruggs said.

Varriale says flying one flag over the other is not a sign of disrespect, but a symbol of how the church chooses to prioritize.

“I’m a former Army ranger and an officer from the 82nd Airborne Division. That’s all I need to say when it comes to being committed to our country,” he said.

Varriale said he got the idea from another local Baptist church that did the same thing and he hopes it will spark a movement for more churches to follow suit.

He appeared on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday to explain his decision, and host Elisabeth Hasselbeck didn’t seem too happy about it.

“As a Christian, I’m not sure anything should fly above the American flag,” Hasselbeck said. “And I’m not sure God needs a flag.”

The Twitterverse was split on their opinion.


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