Churches and the American Flag (A Rant)

by Bruce Maples

Can someone please explain to me what’s up with churches and the American flag?

Why in the world are they flying it, first of all? Isn’t their allegiance supposed to be somewhere else?

And FEATURING it? What’s up with that?

There’s a church near me that has a giant white flag pole next to the church building, with a ginormous American flag flying at the top. It’s way above the church steeple, and the trees, and everything in sight — must be 80 feet in the air — and of course it’s lit at night as well. It looks like one of those flag displays you see at service stations along the interstate … except it’s bigger.

“So what?” you are saying. “If some church wants to be stupid enough to spend all that money looking like a gas station, why do you care?” I’ll tell you why: it offends me. And here’s why it does.

Churches are supposed to be OTHER. If they are functioning correctly, they are outposts of a different life, a different country, if you will. They are, in fact, embassies representing this other country — the Kingdom of God. What embassy features the flag of its host country? Don’t they fly the flag of their own country? So if they are determined to fly a flag, shouldn’t it be the Christian flag?

Get this — I drove by a church yesterday with THREE flags in front: the state flag, the Christian flag, and the American flag. And guess which one was in front of the other two, and higher, and obviously the one they cared the most about? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Any church that features the American flag is essentially saying that their first loyalty is to this country, not to the Kingdom. They are dangerously close to being one of the “court prophets” of the Old Testament — bought and paid for by the government, and thus incapable of speaking truth to power.

The Church should always hold the State at arm’s length — close enough to have some influence, but not so close as to confuse the two. These churches that fly the flag, and celebrate July 4th as a church holy-day, and otherwise mix patriotism and faith, have mixed Church and State so much that neither the leadership nor the members know the difference any more. And in doing so, they have watered down the call to commitment that Christianity demands.

Answer me this: what would Paul have done if he had entered a church and seen a Roman flag beside the pulpit?

… they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.

— Hebrews 11 —

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