On my travels in and around Pigeon Cove I occasionally drive by a church with a flagpole proudly displaying the American and Christian flags. According to proper protocol, when flown together, the American flag must be displayed on top, with the Christian, or any other flag, below it on the same or different poles. When displayed inside, the American flag must be on the speaker’s right, if presented on a raised platform. When on the congregation’s level, it must be placed on the right side of the audience. Regardless of the situation, the U.S. flag must be in the place of highest honor.
Now, in most contexts, this protocol is perfectly acceptable. The flag of the various states, civic organizations, or other countries should indeed be flown in a position inferior to the Stars and Stripes. But when the Christian flag is involved, the situation changes dramatically.
For the follower of Jesus Christ, no allegiance, not even American citizenship, can be permitted to take precedence over his devotion to the Lord. To do otherwise is to violate the 1st Commandment by relegating God to an inferior position.
How then should the church handle the display of the American and Christian flags? The only answer, without violating either U.S. or biblical guidelines, is to simply not display either flag. We removed both flags from our church for this very reason.
As Christians and Americans, we are required to render appropriate honor to whom honor is due. But in the matter of displaying flags, it is an impossible situation, the practice of many churches notwithstanding.
Every time I drive by the church mentioned above I cringe inside. If I were to interview members of that congregation, doubtless all would claim to follow the Bible. In this case, perhaps ignorantly, they are guilty of idolizing the American flag. Honoring the name of God demands that He always be given the preeminence.