By Graham Glover – *Originally published 12-17-2014*
It’s always there. You see it displayed prominently “up front” near the altar or stage. Most Americans take great pride in it and are eager to have it put up in their places of worship. To question its presence in these places is akin to denying the existence of the Almighty.
In almost every American Christian sanctuary (especially those within the Protestant communions), you can all but guarantee that the American flag will be found. And it is my contention that it should be taken down. Today. And never be put up again in the places where we worship the Lord.
I make this commendation as an American Soldier. I make it as one who would give my life in service to my country. I have deployed to Iraq, been stationed in Germany, and been on assignment in Turkey and Poland, and believe, without hesitation or reservation, that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth and the fiercest defender of liberty the world has ever known. Almost every day of the week I wear an American flag on my person. There is no doubt that Old Glory is the definitive symbol of freedom. I know it. You know it. The world knows it. But it does not belong in our sanctuaries. Ever.
Stop hyperventilating. I’m not a traitor. I’m not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I love my country. But my desire to remove the American flag from our sanctuaries has nothing to do with my politics or my patriotism. Rather, it has everything to do with my faith.
It should go without saying that the Christian faith has nothing to do with the United States. Our Lord’s one holy catholic and apostolic church has been around much longer than our nation and will last much past its end.
So why is it that American Christians feel it necessary to put our national symbol in our sanctuaries? If anything, our sanctuaries should be covered with images of the Church and her saints as opposed to secular flags that do nothing to sustain ones faith. I wonder, does the American flag give you thanks for the forgiveness of sins offered to us by Christ? Or does its display make you proud that you were lucky to be born in this great nation? Maybe God likes us Americans better because of our First Amendment and church attendance, so this is why we like our flag in our sanctuaries. Sure He does…
Imagine the unbelieving foreigner who visits your congregation and sees the American flag displayed in its prominent position near your altar or stage. What image does this send? Maybe our sanctuaries should display other symbols of our communities as well. Perhaps we should put up a flag or banner of our town’s sports team. I mean, as a native of Gainesville, Florida it only makes sense to post a University of Florida Gator flag, doesn’t it?
The point is that our faith in Christ, our being a part of the Christian church, transcends nationality. When we enter our Lord’s sanctuary we do so to receive His grace: His Word, His Sacraments. We come as the body of Christ to receive Him. We don’t come as Americans. We don’t come as democrats. We don’t come as constitutional patriots. We come as sinners who need Jesus. As such, everything that makes up our sanctuaries should point us to Christ. Worship, or as we Lutherans call it, the Divine Service, is to receive and give thanks to the Divine. Period. And as much as I love my country and everything it represents, the American flag has nothing to do with my faith, nothing to do with God, and nothing to do with the grace of Christ.
It’s time to take Old Glory down my Christian friends. Display your flags in other places and do so proudly, but leave the Church for Christ and Him alone.