By Alex Wilts
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker said on Wednesday that his state's flag, which features a Confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner, should be replaced with one that is more unifying.
Weighing in on a debate that has swept across the American South since the massacre of nine blacks in a South Carolina church last week, allegedly by a white gunman, Wicker said Mississippi's flag should be put in a museum and replaced.
"As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi's current state flag as offensive," Wicker said in a statement.
"However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently, and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others," he said.
He said it would be up to Mississippi's legislature and other state officials to make any decisions about the flag. An effort to remove the Confederate symbol from the flag was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in a 2001 state referendum.
Citing a Bible passage on avoiding offense to others, Wicker added, " ... the flag should be removed since it causes offense to so many of my brothers and sisters, creating dissension rather than unity."
Mississippi was among the slave states that seceded from the United States in the 1860s and formed the Confederate States of America, triggering the Civil War.
Another was South Carolina, whose governor said on Monday that a Confederate battle flag that has flown on the state's capitol grounds should be taken down. On Wednesday, Alabama's governor banished the battle flag from the state's capitol building, local media reported.
Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter in the South Carolina church killings, posed with the Confederate flag in several images that have been widely circulated since the massacre.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Paul Simao)