Christian Flag Facts
This flag, like an unplanned baby, was
born into the Christian fellowship one hundred years ago, where open arms gave it a loving
welcome. Today, it is no longer an infant. Some 244,000 churches display one or more
Christian flags in their sanctuaries and classrooms.
In answer to the need for basic
information concerning the Christian flag and guidance for its correct usage, this page has been prepared. May it be a blessing to all Internet surfers in
fulfilling this purpose.
THE BIRTH OF THE CHRISTIAN
FLAG 100 YEARS AGO
The featured speaker failed to arrive for the Sunday School Rally in a Coney Island Chapel
in 1897, and - the Christian flag was born:
Like so many of the great and memorable things of history, a Christian flag was not
contemplated or predesigned. A fortuitous happenstance gave it birth. The Sunday School
was holding an old-fashioned Rally Day of the kind which was so much the custom in years
past. For this occasion, a favored speaker had been engaged, but for some reason
undisclosed did not show up. Superintendent Charles C. Overton, in the emergency, called
upon his own gifts of innovation to fill in the time. An American flag lay there across
the pulpit. Overton addressed his words to the flag and its symbolism. Then like a flash
came the thought, why not also a Christian flag? His impromptu but constructive ad-libbing
was to produce a verbal picture of what is today, and for the past one hundred years has
been, the Christian flag.
Today the Christian flag is one of the oldest unchanged flags in the world. It was
conceived at Brighton Chapel, Coney Island, New York, Sunday, September 26, 1897, and was
presented in its present form the following Sunday by its originator. Call it chance, or
providence, serendipity, or the plan of God. On that day, the Christian flag was born.
LIKE NO OTHER FLAG ON EARTH:
THE UNIQUE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN FLAG
The Christian flag is the only free flag in the world. It is different from every other
flag, religious or secular, ancient or modern. It is uncontrolled, independent, and
universal. Unlike all national flags and all denominational flags of various churches, it
has no earthly bonds or allegiances. Christ and Christ alone is its Master. Without
limitation, it exists for all the world's people regardless of sex, race, national
boundary, economic condition, affluence, or poverty, politics, slavery or freedom. It
cannot be restricted by any nation or denomination. This unique, universal quality makes
it like the air we breathe, belonging to all and yet
owned by none. For those who want it, wherever and whenever, it is freely theirs.
All church flags are organizational symbols of specific corporate, legal, religious
entities. The Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Baptists, United Church
of Christ, and others have flags, official or otherwise, but limited to their use and
ruled by them. Not so with the Christian flag. This flag stands in its own right, shines
by its own spiritual light, true, free, untrammeled, uncompromised. It belongs only to
Christ and the Cross which symbol it bears.
GIVE HONOR TO THE CROSS
Why is the cross so emphatically magnified in the new Affirmation of Loyalty?
The Cross in size is the smallest component of the total flag. And yet the whole message,
theological and ecclesiastical, lies in that small but eternal symbol. Without this Cross,
this flag would be little more than a decorative piece of cloth. The force of this fact is
climactic. If there were no Cross, there would be no post-resurrection Christ, there would
be no church. All hinges upon that Cross. This syllogism lifts up and boldly states the
historical and eternal fact: the Cross is at the heart of it all.
Many are the theories of the atonement of God and persons through the sacrifice of Christ
upon the Cross, and many are the theological nuances meticulously spun out by the
Christologists. There is one thing, however, upon which all of the interpretations of the
atonement agree, namely, the indispensable centrality of the Cross. Because of that Cross,
Jesus is not just another miracle worker recorded in the passing pages of Roman history.
He is Christ, the Son of God, sacrificial and triumphant, the Savior of the world, the
world God so loved.
So understood, the Cross of Christ on the
Christian flag is the summation of it all. And to be adequate to its high purpose, the new
Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag expressly includes that Cross.
THE AFFIRMATION OF LOYALTY
TO THE CHRISTIAN FLAG
The Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag is a sacred commitment. Let the
congregation celebrate its loyalty to the Christian flag and the Cross which it bears by
extending to it appropriate recognition and honor.
The minister or lay person will proceed as follows, saying:
1. Let us stand facing the Christian flag.
2. Let us repeat the Affirmation of
Loyalty in unison.
"I affirm my loyalty to the
Christian Flag and to our savior whose cross it bears, one spiritual fellowship under that
cross, uniting us in service and love."
3. Let each person conclude the
Affirmation with a slight but positive nod to the Flag. The congregation may now sing one
or more verses from a hymn of its choice, such as Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, or other
4. Let us now participate in our Christian Fellowship by holding hands in an inclusive
chain from person to person and pew to pew during the concluding prayer. The minister or
lay person presiding will offer here a brief appropriate prayer, marking the conclusion of
this celebration of the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.
A SERVICE OF DEDICATION FOR
ONE OR BOTH FLAGS
Quite universally, when churches install new Christian and American flags, they hold a
special ceremony for this purpose during the worship service. The author has been asked on
occasion for suggestions in this behalf and is glad to incorporate the following
installation rituals. These brief but comprehensive rituals may be enlarged and revised as
the need may require.
Dedication of the Christian Flag
The minister or lay person presiding will have the congregation rise. Together they will
then proceed with the dedication celebration. A separate copy of the ritual should be in
the hands of the worshippers or incorporated in the bulletin.
The Leader: Let us now dedicate this Christian flag. Truly this is the day the Lord has
made. We will rejoice and be glad it.
The People: The heavens declare your glory, O Lord. We bless your holy name. Your name is
above every name.
The Leader: The supreme symbol of Christian faith is the Cross. Serenely it stands above
the centuries bearing testimony to
the love of God for his children.
The People: God so loved people that he gave his Son in sacrifice upon the Cross to bring
true life to all.
The Leader: The Christian flag bears his sacred symbol of God's love. Its folds of white
are clean and pure. Its fields of blue
are truth universal and eternal. Its Cross of red tells of the shed blood of Christ and of
the martyrs, then and now.
The People: Truly this is a holy flag. We will honor and cherish it in our personal hearts
and in the public worship of this
The Leader: I now solemnize the dedication of this Christian flag in the name of God the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here
shall the presence of the Christian flag and its Cross remind us that we stand on holy
ground. Let us ever be worthy, faithful,
and thankful. Amen.
The congregation may here repeat the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian flag, or, if
so desired, repeat the Apostles' Creed,
or sing an appropriate hymn.
If both the Christian and national flags are to be dedicated, the congregation will remain
standing and the leader will directly
Dedication of the American Flag
The Leader: Let us now dedicate this American flag. The foundations of this republic are
built on the teaching that every
person is of infinite value in the sight of God.
The People: On these shores our forebears have established, and we their children have
preserved, a worthy nation. Let our
great land forever be committed to promote and preserve the holy liberties of people and
their inherent right to the pursuit of the
The Leader: The symbol of our national idealism is this gracious flag of stars and
stripes. Beneath its colors let us rejoice in the
greatness of our beloved nation and pray for the wisdom to use this greatness, under God,
for the cherished ideals of our
The People: Here we dedicate ourselves anew to the ageless principles for which this
emblem stands. Faithfully we will live
them, resolutely defend them, and courageously preserve them as our sacred trust.
The Leader: I now dedicate this American flag to stand here before us as an unfailing
reminder that we are one nation under
God. May our nation be blessed forever with righteousness, freedom, and peace. Amen.
At the conclusion of this dedication, if desired, the congregation may repeat the Pledge
of Allegiance to the Flag of the United
States of America or sing an appropriate hymn such as O God, Our Help in Ages Past and
conclude with Our Fathers' God
to Thee, or other selection.
A CHRISTIAN FLAG CODE? HOW
The code for honorable placement of the Christian flag arose out of crisis. A highly
motivated young preacher fresh from Yale University Graduate School was serving his first
full-time appointment. The year was 1938. The clouds of World War II darkened Europe and
hung like a shroud over the world. American youth were being registered. It was a
In this setting, an unexpected problem arose for the young minister. To his mind the motto
"Christ Above All" and the "Name Above Every Name" meant all honor at
all times to Christ and the Cross. With no hesitancy he placed the new Christian flag,
which had just been purchased, at his right in the chancel, and the American flag
symmetrically opposite. All the laws of heraldry, the Apostles' Creed, New Testament
references and social usage designated honor to the right-hand side. He had not
anticipated the stir this was to cause. He was confronted by some sincere and questioning
members. They showed him a
pamphlet put out by a patriotic group that pictured the national emblem in the place of
honor, whereas he had put the Christian flag in the place of honor. His explanations fell
on deaf ears. One of the questioners holding a pamphlet then said to him, "We have
the diagrams right here in print. What do you have in writing?"
There was nothing in writing to turn to
concerning the correct usage of the Christian flag in 1938. Furthermore, the nation was
gearing for war. Civilians were flag-sensitive and overreactive. The American and
Christian flags were secretly switched during the week. What did he have in writing? At
that time, nothing. All he had was a deep conviction that Christ and His Cross should
never come second. (His name was James Russell Pollock, your author.)
The young minister took the whole question to his annual church conference. He prepared
and presented the written regulations which he felt would comprise a true Christian Code.
It was immediately adopted. That was 59 years ago. Like the Christian flag itself, it has
THE LAW IN AMERICA
The Bill of Rights, Article 1, The Constitution of the United States:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof.
The United States Navy:
During the Service of Divine Worship led by the Fleet Chaplain, a triangular Pennant of
White with a blue Latin Cross is flown at the masthead above the American flag.
The State of California:
Excerpted from Stars, Stripes and Statues, National Flag Foundation, p. 66, item 2. No
flag or pennant shall be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of, the
United States flag, except flags flown during church services. (Bold type and italics
DISPLAY OF THE CHRISTIAN
1.When the Christian flag is on the floor level, the Christian flag is placed to the
right, front, of the congregation and outside of the communion railing.
2.When the Christian flag is placed within the chancel, communion railing or choir loft,
the Christian flag is placed to the right side of the altar, of the clergymen, and of the
choir as they face the congregation.
3.When the Christian flag is displayed with the American flag and/or other flags:
- The American flag and/or other flags may be
placed symmetrically on the opposite side of the sanctuary and on the same level as the
- If desired, it is also proper to place the
Christian and national flags side-by-side wherever stationed in the church, thus
symbolizing both the spiritual and patriotic loyalties of the congregation.
- When the flags are placed side-by-side, the
Christian flag is always stationed on the right of all other flags.
- The Christian flag never dips to any other
flag. It may properly dip to the altar Cross.
4.Use of the Christian flag in other
- Where a Cross is carried in a processional,
the Cross leads, followed by the Christian flag.
- In a single-column processional, the
Christian flag precedes all other flags.
- In a double-column processional, the
Christian flag is on the right.
- When the Christian flag is on the same
flagpole with any other flag, the Christian flag receives the top position.
- Where the Christian flag and another flag
are on separate poles, the Christian flag is on the right as it faces the street or
- In placing the Christian flag staff in its
supporting base, it should be adjusted so that the blue canton and Cross are turned toward
- No other symbol or flag should ever be
placed above the Cross.
EDUCATING THE CONGREGATION -
1. In the Church Worship Service:
- Have a minute speaker on the Sunday nearest
the September 26th One Hundredth Birthday of the Christian flag.
- Let the minute person present from the
pulpit a brief, positive word about the history, or uniqueness, or proper display of the
- At least once a year, schedule a spiritual
renewal celebration. The would be shared by all in stating the Affirmation of Loyalty to
the Christian Flag.
- A sermon on Martyrs of the Faith, with
special reference to the Cross on the flag, would be appropriate.
Light a birthday candle on the One Hundredth Birthday Anniversary, a Sunday nearest the
26th of September, 1997. A member of the youth group, a family with one of the children
lighting the candle, or one of the elderly members whose age might come close to
paralleling the age of the flag, or a dozen other colorful procedures could be utilized.
2. In the Church School:
- Celebrate the flag's anniversary with
presentations of the historic birth of the flag, why it bears the Cross, the proper
display of the Christian flag, and how to honor and respect it.
- For hand work, make an actual Christian
flag, cutting the cloth and sewing the parts together carefully and accurately. With small
children, use paper, paste and scissors.
3. In the Children's Sermon:
- Often exciting conversations with the
children illuminate subjects which the congregation also enjoys. Let the pastor or
associate devote a talk with the children about the Christian flag with a small flag for
4. For the Youth:
- At summer camp, erect a flagpole and let
the Christian flag fly high and clear. Let this be a bold symbol of identification as a
Christian youth group.
- At the campfire ring, celebrate youth's
dedication by sharing together the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.
5. In the Pastor's Confirmation Class:
- Lift up the history of the Christian flag's
unusual origin and why the flag bears the Cross.
- Encourage love and respect for the
Christian flag in the hearts of the confirmands.
From its inception in 1897 to this present day a full century later, with a proud
one-hundred-year anniversary, the Christian flag has quietly and beautifully graced an
ever-increasing number of church sanctuaries, religious schools, national and world
conferences, and a host of additional situations. The flag means much to many people. It
belongs. Instinctively it is cherished. Its
symbolism, liturgical and ecclesiastical, utters no words, yet speaks to the hearts of
The way that this unique flag came into being, not by laborious, intellectual planning but
by a flash of inspiration ignited by the necessity to fill in for an absent speaker; the
subsequent history and authority for its primacy among flags; the new Affirmation of
Loyalty to the Christian Flag as an inevitable religious development; the emphasis upon
the Cross it bears; the necessity for a code of correct display; plus the desire of so
many Christian people to know what this flag is all about; all of these combined have been
the motivation for the creation of this one hundredth anniversary volume.
Let the Christian flag be known and honored for what it truly is. Let it be correctly
displayed with boldness and pride. Let its colors, Cross and symbolism lift high an
expression to the name which is forever above every name, the name of Jesus Christ our
Romans 13:7 "Render therefore
tribute to whom tribute is due":
Much of the information used on this Christian Flag Page is from the book, "Congratulations
to The Christian Flag" by Author James R. Pollock,
Ph.D., D.D., a United Methodist minister, pastored churches in Michigan, Connecticut,
Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and then retired in Florida. During World War II, he was a
front-line military chaplain in the US Army, serving with combat engineers and the 2nd
Armored Division. The absolute primacy of the unfettered Cross of Christ, wherever placed,
remained a life-long unyielding, consuming conviction of the author. His efforts resulted
in creation of the Christian flag code.The author passed away on March 25, 1996, two days
after completing this 4th edition.