The Joy of Flag Day
Written by: Steven Grant, Executive Director
I have often been asked why we display the American flag in the front of our church’s sanctuary. Most of the time the question is a sincere inquiry as to the appropriateness of a civil banner positioned in a place of worship. There have also been times when there was a clear cynicism and spirit of challenge inherent in the question. Regardless of the motive, the answer is the same. On the one hand scripture teaches us that Christians should be good citizens of the communities in which they live, showing proper respect for the civil authorities. Matthew 22:15-22, Romans 13:1-7, and I Peter 2:12-17 come to mind.
But in addition to this, we must always remember that this banner, our American flag, represents religious freedom. The fact that Americans and our visitors can exercise their religious faith freely without fear, including attending the place of worship of their choice, is one of the blessings of the American Revolution and the American way of life. It is most appropriate to properly display the “stars spangled banner” that represents that fundamental human right, the free exercise of religion.
No one needs to fear that the presence the American flag suggests that we worship the flag or the republic for which it stands. The flag is not displayed front and center, but rather in its proper place to the right of the speaker. All the symbols relating to the worship of Almighty God are front and center, and the American flag is present as a reminder of how blessed we are that in His Providence, the United States came into being and that we are fortunate enough to be a part of it.
The presence of the flag in our churches is also a most important reminder for all believers. The free exercise of religion is not a given, it does not just happen. We must never take it for granted that the free exercise of religion is just the way things are. It is the way things are for us because a multitude of our fellow citizens, past and present, sacrificed to make it so; some of them made the ultimate sacrifice by having their lives taken from them in the pursuit of protecting and maintaining this and all unalienable rights. We must never forget what it has taken, and what it will always require, to ensure those rights
Will future generations have the same resolve and commitment to preserve our God given rights, including the right of free exercise of religion? In our day, as in other times in our history, there is the trap that we might take our strength, prosperity and security for granted as a given; that this is simply the way things are. Also, an all-pervasive sense of entitlement and consuming addiction to self-indulgence may weaken our resolve to do what is necessary to preserve, protect and defend our way of life. There does not currently exist a power on earth that is able to defeat us militarily, but what does threaten us is the divisiveness, weakened character and cultural rot from within.
Now more than ever should the flag be displayed and talked about in churches, schools, homes and the public square. We must be regularly reminded of the values, principles and history the flag represents. We must teach younger generations and remind older ones what our flag means, the heritage of effort and sacrifice it has taken to ensure that it will always proudly wave. We stand by our flag, pledge our allegiance and thank Almighty God for our flag, not simply to be patriotic, though there is nothing wrong with that! But rather, we do these things because what America is, what she stands for, the blessing she has been to the world, is worth fighting for, worth dying for, and perhaps most important, worth living for! Keep our flag flying high and may God bless America!