SuperTalk Mississippi

Town of Rienzi, MS evades $500,000 religious lawsuit, raises Christian flag again

As of the 2010 census, the tiny town of Rienzi, Mississippi had 317 people living within the city limits.

As of January 2017, that population was facing a half-million dollar lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In a letter addressed to Mayor Walter Williams, a bold line stood out that read: “A religious memorial, like any other religious display endorsed by the government, is unconstitutional.”

The issue was over a Christian flag that was flying over the Rienzi Veteran’s Memorial Garden just outside the walls of Rienzi City Hall. Facing a lawsuit that could potentially bankrupt the town, Mayor Williams ordered the flag to be lowered. What came afterward was an outpouring of support from local churches, charities and residents (both of Rienzi, and of Alcorn County, among others).

Not long after the public outcry that reached ears across the nation, Rienzi Elementary was closed down. The city, needing a local school, was approached by Pathway Christian Academy, relocating from Corinth. The city leased a part of a (privately owned) building behind City Hall to the school. Just outside the walls of this new private school, there exists a tiny strip of earth -adjacent and just behind the Rienzi Veterans Memorial Garden- that suits a flagpole perfectly.

A Rienzi town flag now flies where the Christian flag once stood, as part of the three flags within the Veterans Memorial Garden.

And the Christian flag flies just behind them. Secure on private land.

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