Veterans group accuses church of stealing flags

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Confederate battle flags, placed on the graves of Civil War veterans in the Abilene Baptist Church Cemetery, keep disappearing. Church officials and members, who deem the flags offensive, have been removing them.

Rev. Gregory Drake, pastor of Abilene Baptist Chuch, said members of the church have taken the flags down each year for the past 20 years, in part because groups like the Ku Klux Klan have given a negative connotation to the flag.

He said the cemetery, located at 2046 North Highway 113, is across the street from a school and students can be forced to remove articles of clothing depicting the flag or be sent home.

“They’re [the flags] not offensive to us personally at all ... but we do know it is offensive to certain people,” he said.

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans placed 570 flags on graves throughout the county to celebrate Confederate Heritage Month, said Sam Pyle, chaplain of the group’s local chapter, McDaniel-Curtis Camp 165.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years and we’ve only had a problem one other time,” Pyle said....

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