"And to the gospel, for which it stands"

October 26, 2010

Unlike
Mary Valle
, who recently heard of the Christian flag for the first time, I
grew up pledging allegiance to it at school. In 1897, a Sunday school superintendent
in Brooklyn was discussing with students the symbolism of having a U.S. flag in
the chapel.  Someone asked why no
flag with Christian symbolism existed
as well, and the teacher came up with the design for the Christian flag then
and there.

It's troubling that the Christian flag took the U.S. one as
its model—and that the two tend to be flown in tandem, with the national flag
given its customary
priority
. The Kingdom of God flag
is one attempt to address these issues. But no variation on design or protocol
can escape the fact that flags in general connote militarism and nationalism,
not the way of Christ. So why display a cross flag at church when you could
just display a cross?

Still, a more pragmatic part of me sees the Christian flag
as benign—its distinctness from the U.S. flag is at least as obvious as their
similarities. So while displaying the U.S. flag alone might encourage
churchgoers to conflate citizenship with faith, the two flags flown side by
side might push back, their presence together emphasizing that they're two
different things. Flown alone, many might interpret the Christian flag simply
as a highly visible cross.

What do you think? Is the Christian flag useful, idolatrous,
pointless? Do you judge it any differently than, say, a denominational flag?

Comments

flags

Luckily I've grown up in Canada where we don't pledge allegiance to a flag. That's a totally different issue.
We don't need a Christian flag; it's exclusionary at best and racist at worst. I'm a 'mainline' Christian and I'm happy to have my cross in Church, hanging in my home and around my neck. Everyone knows what a church is (from the outside at least) and we don't need flags outside or at Christian stores, businesses or anywhere else.

Flags in church

The prior question to that of displaying a so-called Christian flag is that of displaying a national flag at all. This is where the idolatry is exposed.

Flags in church

As a journalist and photographer I was in Vietnam to report the war to American and Canadian churches and public audiences. In the process I discovered that my commitment, and allegiance, is not to the state nor to the flag. I grew up Presbyterian in Ohio, and was accustomed to the Christian flag, but became Anglican, ecumenical and interfaith in Asia and Africa.
In Christ Church Bangkok 35 years ago my six-year-old son marched up the center aisle with other scouts, led my Asian mercenaries carrying flags which they placed on the altar. My Scots blood was stirred, but seeing the next generation being sacrificed to a kind of God of war was disconcerting.
I like flags, but they are, or were, war banners. Do any flags convey peace>

Flags in Church

The preceding was/is my own comment. I did not intend it to be anonymous.
Lance Woodruff in Bangkok

Kingdom of God flag

The Kingdom of God flag was created by a pacifist Christian. It is expressly anti-nationalist.

Scott