Ray Tanner's comments came amid renewed debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina.
The flag, which has flown on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol in Columbia since 1962, has been subject to renewed controversy following the murders of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., last week. The confessed shooter, white 21-year-old Dylann Roof, embraced the Confederate flag as part of his white supremacist ideology, which The New York Times detailed on Saturday.
Defenders of the Confederate flag say it honors Southern heritage, while critics argue that the flag symbolizes racism, slavery and oppression. The flag was first installed on the state's capitol dome in 1962 to protest the growing Civil Rights movement, though in 2000 it was removed from the dome and placed at a Confederate war memorial just steps away from the statehouse.
Last week's attack and the subsequent reveal of Root's connection to the flag has regenerated debate on the subject. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will call for the flag to be taken down on Monday, The Post & Courier reports.
In 2007, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier said that the Confederate flag should not fly on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol.
"My opinion is we don't need the Confederate flag at our Capitol," Spurrier said, according to ESPN. "I don't really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there."
During a broadcast of ESPN's College GameDay in Columbia ahead of a South Carolina-Tennessee game, Spurrier said he was embarrassed by the flag's presence.
- Stanley Kay