A powerful Mississippi senator said Wednesday that his state's flag should be redesigned to eliminate the Confederate emblem now emblazoned on it.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced his stand in a morning statement, two days after saying in a previous statement that it "should be up to the Mississippi legislature and the people of the state to decide" the flag's fate.

The June 17 killings of nine black Charleston churchgoers by an alleged white supremacist has attracted new attention of the use of Confederate symbols in the modern South. The South Carolina legislature voted Tuesday to begin the process of removing a Confederate battle flag flying on the state house grounds, and leading Mississipians have called on the same emblem to be removed from that state's flag, which dates to 1894.

"After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians," Wicker said Wednesday. "As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive. 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."

Wicker is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP campaign apparatus, making him one of the most prominent members of the party conference. In his statement, Wicker offered a Biblical reflection on this decision: "In I Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul said he had no personal objection to eating meat sacrificed to idols. But he went on to say that 'if food is a cause of trouble to my brother, or makes my brother offend, I will give up eating meat.' The lesson from this passage leads me to conclude that the flag should be removed since it causes offense to so many of my brothers and sisters, creating dissention [sic] rather than unity."

He added: "This is an issue to be decided by the legislature and other state government officials and not dictated by Washington. If I can be part of a process to achieve consensus within our state, I would welcome the opportunity to participate."

Mississippi's other senator, Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), said in a brief interview Tuesday that he is "not involved in the discussion one way or another."

"That issue is something under the authority of the state legislature," he said in the Capitol.

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed published excerpts from a 1995 interview Cochran gave to Southern Partisan magazine where he said, "if I were a member of the legislature I would vote to keep the flag as it is.” Cochran said Tuesday he did not recall making those comments.

In a 2001 referendum, Mississippians voted 64 percent to 36 percent to keep the Confederate symbol on the flag.

UPDATE, 3:35 P.M.: Cochran called on the state to "consider changing the state flag" in a Wednesday afternoon statement. It reads: "As a proud citizen of Mississippi, it is my personal hope that the state government will consider changing the state flag. The recent debate on the symbolism of our flag, which belongs to all of us, presents the people of our state an opportunity to consider a new banner that represents Mississippi. I appreciate the views of my friend and colleague Roger Wicker, and agree that we should look for unity and not divisiveness in the symbols of our state."