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Does the American flag belong in church?

Our allegiance belongs to God, not state power.

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I've attended church weekly all my life, and virtually every congregation with whom I've worshipped displays an American flag. It often stands close to the communion table, probably a church's most sacred spot. Some denominations even recite the Pledge of Allegiance – multiple times. One church I visited in the Midwest began Sunday School with the Pledge but apparently lacked faith it would stick. We interrupted morning worship with another recitation.

All in all, American Christians seem as devoted to their government as Ruth was to Naomi. But should they be? Do either the flag or the Pledge have any place in the Lord's house? Is congregational commitment to the republic for which these emblems stand consistent with Biblical Christianity? Is political power?

Throughout history, Christians have usually been on the wrong side of government. The Roman Empire tortured Jesus Christ to death, then criminalized his friends. Later regimes continued that tradition. They routinely hunted down, imprisoned, tortured, and slaughtered people who clung to their Lord instead of the law. Something like 70 million Christians have died for their faith since AD 33.

The church thought to resolve this by grabbing government's reins. But the same brutality soon surfaced. Believers weren't safe unless they practiced precisely as their brothers in power dictated.


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