(WJZY) A pastor in Cleveland County is taking a stand to put God first before his country.
Pastor Rit Varriale and members of the Elizabeth Baptist Church decided to fly the Christian flag above the American flag outside the building in Shelby.
He strongly believes it should always be “God before Government”, also the theme of the Sunday morning service.
“We plan to raise the flag as a symbol that our commitment is to god first,” Varriale said.
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.
Pastor 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.
The flag ceremony that has now started outside of Elizabeth Baptist Church will continue to e the routine for many years to come.
Pastor Varriale hopes this will spark a movement around the country. He first got the idea from another church in Shelby, Focus Missionary Baptist Church. They raised the Christian flag above the American flag a few months ago.