Church members wave flags in
On a bright afternoon earlier this week, the Christian, American and Israel flags were anything but inconspicuous on the corner of Highway 321 and 11 as members of Covenant Ministry Center in Lenoir City turned out to support what they believe to be the evangelical Christian roots of the United States.
The event, dubbed the God and Country Walk, was the brainchild of Covenant Ministry Center member Sonja Robinson, who said she was looking for a way to make a difference.
She said she was "thinking about our nation, the condition that we're in and praying and saying, 'Lord, what can I do?' and this is what he gave me to do," Robinson said.
Supporters initially were going to walk up and down Broadway Street in Lenoir City but made the move to the corner because of greater traffic volume.
"We're hoping other churches will bring their flags and take up other corners, so we can get them on all four corners," Robinson said.
Noting that anyone was invited to come and show their support, Robinson said the demonstration will take place through Election Day. Church members and supporters gather for about two hours at noon each day and for two more hours beginning at 5 p.m. as long as weather permits.
"(We're) God-fearing people who believe we are still a Christian nation; that's this flag," she said. "And then, we also believe that as a Christian nation, that we should stand with Israel."
Robinson said while some drivers seemed upset that ralliers were flying Israel's flag, others were supportive of the measure.
"People stop and get out, and they want to know what are we doing, and we tell them and a lot of people stop and say, 'Oh, I appreciate you having the Israel flag'," Robinson said. "... Some people don't know what the Christian flag is. We've had people say what is that? And then a couple people were angry that we were holding the Israel flag."
The Rev. David Thompson, with Covenant Ministry Center, said the demonstration was not making a political statement but simply an admonition that the U.S. return to its moral foundations.
"We're definitely praying for America to come back to her original glory with the Lord," Thompson said.
Supporter Dustin Nadeau of Lenoir City said the rally gave him the chance to be a "tangible representative" of the Christian community in Loudon County.
"It was time for me," Nadeau said. "It was a personal decision that needed to happen because I've heard people on both sides complain, complain, complain about what's wrong, what's wrong, what wrong," Nadeau said. "Now, I'm trying to do something that's right. This is one of our rights that we can get out here and express how we feel and especially being of a Christian nature, a Christian virtue, and it goes even deeper than that, but that's another talk."
He said responses from people driving by the corner were mixed, with some supportive of the ralliers' effort and others who seemed indifferent.
"You're going to run the gamut anyway, but the ones that do wind down the window and ask questions, they're so glad they did," Nadeau said.
He said he felt compelled during a church service to participate in the demonstration.
"It was just one of those things that Ms. Sonja put up the altar call at church one day, and the Lord had my schedule available for me to come do something and not just shake your head and say, 'OK, amen,' to get out there and do it," Nadeau said.
Robinson said she pushed back against the notion Christians should be apathetic or uninvolved in the political process. "It's Christian-based," she said. "But Christians have to get involved politically. That's what's happened. Christians have decided that they don't need to be involved."