The Christian response of the families of the dead in the Charleston church shooting, - their amazing grace freely given to a cold-blooded killer - not the usual outside suspects protesting is what's driving the flag conversation in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Senate on Monday passed a measure 36-3 that would remove the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Capitol in Columbia. The House was to have taken up the matter Wednesday.

Mississippi leaders would do well to pay attention to the debate that's drawn national attention after a white supremacist opened fire during a Bible study June 17, killing nine at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

They didn't riot or shout angry epithets in Charleston; rather, the families forgave the young killer, the city prayed and the entire community was galvanized in unity, leaving the national media and other liberals stunned.

"You see, Charleston could have been another Ferguson," said South Carolina Republican state Sen. George E. Campsen III of Charleston from the Senate floor on Monday. "It could have been a Baltimore. Do you know why it wasn't? The Christian people who had a deeply held commitment to their Faith, who acted consistent with their Faith. That is why."

While Mississippi isn't flying the Confederate flag at the state Capitol, House Speaker Philip Gunn has, out of Christian conviction, he said, called for changing Mississippi's flag that includes the Confederate emblem.

Pay attention to what's going on in South Carolina. The response to grace freely given has resulted in a statewide groundswell of love for neighbor and compassion, state Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican from Columbia, S.C., observed.

Sen. Campsen, from the floor of the Senate on Monday, described the response of the families of the Emanuel Nine as the essence of being a Christian. The "sheer grace" shown by the families at the bail hearing demands a response, he said. "I can't let that go without an appropriate response. They have inspired me," he said.

"I'm going to vote to relocate it, to pursue peace and mutual affection like Paul preaches us to do," said Campsen. His message was heavy on Biblical references as reasons to take down the flag. "I hate that it took a tragedy like this for me to really, fully understand it. But I do fully understand it, and it is utterly amazing. It is one of the greatest testimonies of Christian faith that I have experienced in my life."

Dylann Roof sat in on a Wednesday night Bible study at historic Emanuel and about an hour later opened fire.

"Dylann Roof did not cause this flag to come down. The families of the Emanuel 9 caused this flag to come down. It wasn't his sin, but their grace," said Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Democrat.

Republican Sen. Larry Martin, a former flag proponent, said he became convinced that a version of the Confederate flag was raised at the State House during the civil-rights era as a protest of integration, not a celebration of Confederate history.

"If you want to get right down to it, it has more to do with what was going on in the 1960s than it does with the 1860s," he said.

The Confederate flag was expropriated illegitimately by evil men who used it as a finger in the air to the federal government in the 1960s with a nod to the Jim Crow laws intended to maintain segregation.

Sen. Campsen cautioned, as we have, about engaging in Stalinist purges by removing monuments and statues because that would become endless.

Memorializing, not sanitizing is a reasonable path and the Mississippi Legislature and the rest of the state's leadership needs to get out front on this issue.

The Confederate flag was misappropriated by the darkest forces of man. The ringleaders of the Ku Klux Klan murdered three young men in Neshoba County because the trio was registering blacks to vote.

Registering blacks to vote. The Klan burned the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church to lure them so they could be murdered.

Mississippi leaders should pay close attention to the South Carolina debate and act with the same courage and conviction rather than risk dividing our state with their usual populist complicity. Too much is at stake to have a finger in the wind.

Over and over - black, white, Republican, Democrat - the South Carolina senators spoke of the powerful Christian witness of the families that was driving them, even causing many to drop their opposition.

Mississippi risks remaining a backwater in the eyes of the world when the holdouts have the mic and if the Legislature fails to act on the flag.
Mississippi could be the last state clinging to a Confederate emblem as an official state sign.

The high and noble lineage of our Southern ancestors should not be forgotten.

The Rebel flag was hijacked. It's offensive to those who were beaten or oppressed and for the families of those killed by segregationists.

Until the people of Mississippi experience the kind of incredible unity South Carolinians have through Christ in this unspeakable tragedy and are willing to reconcile the past, acknowledge the present and hope for the future, Mississippi will be held back.

A tremendous opportunity awaits to, like Charleston, make a huge difference in the world. Changing our state flag is the right thing to do.