Guest / Limited Access /
Should Churches Display the American Flag in Their Sanctuaries?
Amanda Duffy
Should Churches Display the American Flag in Their Sanctuaries?

Just Don't do it

Douglas Wilson is pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and author of many books, including Letter from a Christian Citizen (American Vision, 2007).

A Christian church has absolutely no business displaying a national flag in the sanctuary, at least not as it is commonly done. The church born at Pentecost was a reversal of Babel, not a doubling down on the fragmentation of Babel.

Our churches should not place any unnecessary barriers to the worship of visiting Koreans, Russians, or Portuguese. We already must deal with natural and providential barriers, such as differences in language. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:28). I wouldn't want to worship in a sanctuary with a Scythian flag up front (Col. 3:11), and the Golden Rule requires that we not do to the visiting Scythians what we didn't very much like when they did it to us.

The New Testament is all about this principle. Where customs interfere with transnational fellowship, those customs must give way (Acts 15:29).

Of course, I do want to note that this should be taken as a general principled stand, which is not the same as a perfectionistic one. I am not interested in applying any strictures to churches that are renting space in American Legion halls or in high school gyms, where a flag would already be displayed in the ordinary course of things. I am simply arguing that the flag up front should not be part of how the church as the church arranges things. When we in the church have a decision to make, we shouldn't decide in favor of displaying national flags.

If the church places an American flag in the front of the sanctuary, this becomes part of our sacred architecture, and therefore says something. It becomes a shaping influence. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueRich Mouw on Why Evangelicals Need to Be Quick to Listen to Mormons
Subscriber Access Only Rich Mouw on Why Evangelicals Need to Be Quick to Listen to Mormons
The president of Fuller Theological Seminary on 'Talking with Mormons.'
RecommendedCover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Subscriber Access Only Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous?
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickCome Out of Your Gender-Role Foxholes
Come Out of Your Gender-Role Foxholes
How men and women can have better conversations about leadership, love, and life together.
Christianity Today
Should Churches Display the American Flag in Their Sanctuaries?
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.