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Monday, April 24, 2006

Sanctuary Flags: Love 'em or Lose 'em?

I found this interesting post about sanctuary flags over at Purgatorio. I say, "Lose 'em."

Here at my church, there are flags in the building, but they are the very back of the nave. My preference would be to remove them altogether.

I'm a patriotic American. We put the stars and stripes outside our house on the 4th of July. But putting an American flag in a Christian church is a strange practice. The church is not a civic institution. Nor should it be a nationalistic one. It is catholic, that is, universal. The church is not an American thing.

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13 comments:

c. l. miller said...

Great point. The only problem is getting that one past the Church council with members who insist that as long as they can remember the flags have been there and they do not want to see them removed.

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Government is the Lord's institution also. Nobody would say we are worshipping the flags along with our Lord. Right? :)

As long as we note that we are not a "Christian Nation" (what was that survey that said 2 out of 3 people disbelieved the bodily resurrection?), I'm not offended by them.

"Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. :) "

Kelly Klages said...

I'm inclined to agree. And the whole "Christian flag" thing is especially ridiculous. Actually it's almost an insult to the country's flag to give a fad (and a money-making fad, for the guy who invented it) equal billing to a national flag. Kind of like a WWJD? bracelet, or a "Prayer of Jabez" flag. Well, I guess it *does* have a cross on it, which maybe puts it a notch above those other fads...

It's kind of weird-- that one picture that was shown, with the Canadian flag, looks just like the House of Parliament if you just take a quick glance at it.

Now, what does a country do if they have a national flag that already has a cross on it, such as the Scandinavian countries? ;o)

I agree, lose the flags.

~Mark said...

Lose 'em.

Funky Dung said...

Lose 'em. When we're worshipping, we are acting as citizens of God's kingdom, not the US or any other earthly nation. Furthermore, churches and other places of permanent worship are sacred spaces and profane symbols do not belong there (c.f. "The Sacred and the Profane" by Mircea Eliade).

Funky Dung said...

Lose 'em. When we're worshipping, we are acting as citizens of God's kingdom, not the US or any other earthly nation. Furthermore, churches and other places of permanent worship are sacred spaces and profane symbols do not belong there (c.f. "The Sacred and the Profane" by Mircea Eliade).

Black Knight said...

Loozem!!

Preachrboy said...

We at least moved them outside of the communion rail.

Bob Waters said...

Lose 'em.

First, the chancel is God's turf. Any sign of any other loyalty- however God-pleasing that loyalty might be- is out of place there.

Secondly, the Christian flag is an abomination, a relic of the time when stages in meeting halls had to balance the American flag on one side with something else. It has no liturgical function, rhyme or reason.

Third is a point which I came to realize later than the other two, but it's an even more pressing one. When we gather in church, nationality literally doesn't matter. We gather as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Though
I have seen a Canadian flag in a church chancel, in no country anywhere else on Earth would Christians think of displaying their national flag in the sanctuary, for the simple reason that it expresses a division which simply has no relevance there.

It might be that we don't worship the flag, but that doesn't make it any more appropriate. And I've been there; moving them outside the communion rail was the best I could ever get away with, too! ;)

But having a European or Asian Lutheran visit your church and share his or her experience of the implicit
exclusion involved by a display of a national flag at the table of our common Savior sometimes can get even elders and church council members thinking.

Anonymous said...

As a friend as seminary once said:
"That's not a hill worth dying on!"

CPA said...

Of course I say lose 'em too, for all the reasons stated here and at Watersblogged. But I think this is an issue where the blogosphere is probably out of tune with the rest of the world (at least the rest of the American world). Basic fact: people with a lot of higher education get much more blase about things seen as mere symbols and symbolism (like flags). People on the web are better educated, hence people on the web are more blase about symbols than others are. So I agree, but as it sounds Prechrboy has experienced, you can only move so fast with the rest of the church.

The Terrible Swede said...

Lose ‘em. And I’m a US Air Force and Kansas Air National Guard vet.

Scott said...

From the Orthodox perspective, the Liturgy is "Heaven on Earth." The altar and nave of the Church are, of course, full of iconic imagery. The national flag is an icon itself, and not a bad one, but it is not an icon relating to the kingdom of heaven. It therefore has no place in either the altar or nave. If it is felt that the church building must have a national flag in it, then the vestibule may be an appropriate place.

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