Flags in the Sanctuary

Like many other churches in the United States, ours features two flags at the front of the sanctuary. The first is the Stars and Stripes, the flag of our nation.

The second is known as the Christian flag, which came into being in the 19th Century for use in Sunday Schools or other places where there wasn’t a traditional cross.

Across the years displaying the flag has become a heated issues for American churches–typically when the United States finds itself at war (which tends to be a lot of the time, at least over the last twenty years).

As a pastor, I am tasked with leading God’s people in worship.

As a reformed Christian, I believe that our worship ought to be simple, unadorned, focused upon God, conducted in conformity to God’s pattern of worship in Scripture, and focused on the Word and Sacraments.

The question I ask myself is: does the American flag help or hinder God’s people in their worship of God? Or, is it neutral? As part of my study of the issue, I’ve compiled a list of articles on the subject for reference. As you’ll note, lately the preponderence of the search results shows articles that are critical of the practice.


IN FAVOR

“The American Flag in Our Church” (Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod)
https://www.mnsdistrict.org/engaged-in-mission/2018/5/1/from-the-president-the-american-flag-in-our-church

OPPOSED

“Ten Reasons Why U.S. Flag Should Not be in Your Sanctuary”
https://goodfaithmedia.org/10-reasons-why-u-s-flag-should-not-be-in-your-sanctuary/

“Should We Have Flags in the Church?” (United Methodist Church)
https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/should-we-have-flags-in-the-church-the-christian-flag-and-the-american-flag

“Are Flags Appropriate in Church?” (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Are_flags_appropriate_in_church.pdf

“Do Flags Belong in church? (Presbyterian Church USA)
https://www.syntrinity.org/synod/do-flags-belong-in-church/

MULTIPLE VIEWS

“Should Churches Display the American Flag?”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/july-august/should-churches-display-the-american-flag.html

“Do National Flags Have A Place in Places of Worship?”

https://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/2017/05/ethics_religion_talk_do_nation.html

CASE STUDIES

“West Asheville Church Flies Christian Flag Above National Flag”

https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/02/26/answer-man-west-asheville-church-flying-christian-above-u-s-flag/4866773002/

“Flags in Worship”
https://pres-outlook.org/2016/07/flags-in-worship/

“Herman Hoeksema and the ‘Flag Controversy”
https://leben.us/herman-hoeksema-flag-church-controversy/