Last modified: 2003-07-05 by rob raeside
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by António Tuválkin-Martins, 8 February 2003
The "Christian flag" is one which I think originated in the southern United States of America with a Baptist-like church group. This group was partly led by a man named Dr. Donald Howard, who designed a Christian education system as an alternative to the non-Christian public school system. This system, called Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) uses this Christian flag to represent itself. ACE then spread around the USA and Canada and even overseas to third-world countries via missionaries, hence spreading the idea of a Christian flag around the world.
The canton is blue. The flag has a white field representing the purity of Christ and a red cross in the middle of the canton, the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah with red for His blood. Attached is a rough depiction of the flag with likely all the wrong dimensions.
Josh Treleaven, 15 June 1998
The "Christian Flag" is a white flag with a blue canton and a red cross in it. It was designed by Charles Overton in 1897 to represent Protestants of all denominations. (See the Knopf "Eyewitness Books" volume entitled "Flag".) Of course all the Scandinavian cross flags could be called Christian, considering the story of King Valdemar in 1219 in Denmark, who saw the cross of Christ, and it led him to victory.
I believe that The Christian Flag is virtually an exclusively American symbol. Having lived in Sydney for over seven years, I have never seen the Christian Flag displayed (let alone flown) in Australia.
Miles Li, 8 August 1999
I think the original idea was to have a symbol to represent a quasi-ecumenical revivalist movement within American Protestantism in the
late 19th century. As to who uses the flag, doing some quick web surfs, I found the following facts:
- Such mainstream Protestant groups as the Methodists and Presbyterians gave explicit sanction to the use of the "Christian"
flag in churches in resolutions passed in the 1940s.
- A great many local church websites of mainstream Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, and, of course, Baptist) mention either the display of the "Christian" flag or the pledge to it. This suggests that its use is rather widespread, beyond just the conservative evangelical bodies.
- Several sites mention that Lutheran churches began using the Christian flag along with the US flag in churches during the World War II years. They attribute this practice to German-Americans wanting to prove their patriotism.
- The United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran churches' websites contain articles expressing disapproval of the display of either the US or "Christian" flags in churches. On the other hand, neither was prepared to say that their use is impermissible.
To put things in perspective, the sizes of the denominations we're talking about here are about 30 million Baptists (of which about 16 million are Southern Baptists); 13 million Methodists (of which about 8 million United Methodists); 8 million Lutherans (roughly 5 million Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and 3 million conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod); 4 million Presbyterians; 2 million Episcopalians. These compare to some 60 million Roman Catholics (virtually all of whom have the S&S and Holy See flags in their churches).
Joe McMillan, 24 January 2002
A conference of "mainstream" Protestant denominations some decades ago concluded
that the "Christian" flag, if displayed, should take precedence in a church over
the national flag. Actual practice varies between individual
parishes/congregations. The Catholic church my wife and children belong to has
the US and Holy See flags in the seating area of the church, with the Holy See
flag on the right (US flag code says under that arrangement, the US flag should
be on the right). The Presbyterian church to which I belong has the US and
Christian flags right at the base of the raised area on which the minister
conducts the service. Again, the Christian flag is on the right, the reverse of
the US flag code arrangement. But the nearby colonial-era Episcopal church has
the US and Episcopal flags hanging on the wall above the pulpit, with the US
flag to its own right, as the Flag Code calls for.
Joe McMillan, 15 April 2003
From www.steve4u.com/christian/main.htm, located by Ned Smith, 17 June 1999.
"I pledge allegiance
To the Christian Flag
And to the Saviour,
For whose Kingdom it stands.
One Saviour, crucified,
risen and coming again,
With life and liberty
for all who believe."
At this site also is the history of this flag:
"This flag, like an unplanned baby, was born into the Christian fellowship one hundred years ago, where open arms gave it a loving welcome. Today, it is no longer an infant. Some 244,000 churches display one or more Christian flags in their sanctuaries and classrooms.
In answer to the need for basic information concerning the Christian flag and guidance for its correct usage, Steve's Christian Flag Page has been prepared. May it be a blessing to all Internet surfers in fulfilling this purpose.
Today the Christian flag is one of the oldest unchanged flags in the world. It was conceived at Brighton Chapel, Coney Island, New York, Sunday, September 26, 1897, and was presented in its present form the following Sunday by its originator. Call it chance, or providence, serendipity, or the plan of God. On that day, the Christian flag was born.
All church flags are organizational symbols of specific corporate, legal, religious entities. The Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Baptists, United Church of Christ, and others have flags, official or otherwise, but limited to their use and ruled by them. Not so with the Christian flag. This flag stands in its own right, shines by its own spiritual light, true, free, untrammeled, uncompromised. It belongs only to Christ and the Cross which symbol it bears.
Many are the theories of the atonement of God and persons through the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, and many are the theological nuances meticulously spun out by the Christologists. There is one thing, however, upon which all of the interpretations of the atonement agree, namely, the indispensable centrality of the Cross. Because of that Cross, Jesus is not just another miracle worker recorded in the passing pages of Roman history. He is Christ, the Son of God, sacrificial and triumphant, the Savior of the world, the world God so loved.
So understood, the Cross of Christ on the Christian flag is the summation of it all. And to be adequate to its high purpose, the new Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag expressly includes that Cross.
The minister or lay person will proceed as follows, saying:
1. Let us stand facing the Christian flag.
2. Let us repeat the Affirmation of Loyalty in unison.
"I affirm my loyalty to the Christian Flag and to our savior whose cross it bears, one spiritual fellowship under that cross, uniting us in service and love."
3. Let each person conclude the Affirmation with a slight but positive nod to the Flag. The congregation may now sing one or more verses from a hymn of its choice, such as Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, or other appropriate selection.
4. Let us now participate in our Christian Fellowship by holding hands in an inclusive chain from person to person and pew to pew during the concluding prayer. The minister or lay person presiding will offer here a brief appropriate prayer, marking the conclusion of this celebration of the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.