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Christian Flag

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Title: Christian Flag  
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Subject: Surrender (religion), White flag, 1907 works, Christian symbols, Ecumenism
Collection: 1907 Works, Christian Ecumenism, Christian Symbols, Religious Flags
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Christian Flag

The Christian Flag

The Christian Flag is a flag designed in the early 20th century to represent all of Christianity and Christendom,[1] and has been most popular among Protestant churches in North America, Africa and Latin America. [2] The flag has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The shade of red on the cross symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary.[3] The blue represents the waters of baptism as well as the faithfulness of Jesus.[4] The white represents Jesus' purity.[5] In conventional vexillology, a white flag is linked to surrender, a reference to the Biblical description of Jesus' non-violence and surrender to God.[6] The dimensions of the flag and canton have no official specifications.


  • Origins 1
  • Usage 2
  • Pledge 3
  • Denominational flags 4
  • National flags 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


The Christian Flag being displayed on the chancel of a Lutheran sanctuary (see right), Hodgkins, Illinois.
The Christian Flag flies outside Focus on the Family's headquarters in Colorado.

The Christian Flag was first conceived on September 26, 1897, at Brighton Chapel on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in the United States. The superintendent of a Sunday school, Charles C. Overton, gave an impromptu lecture to the gathered students, because the scheduled speaker had failed to arrive for the event. He gave a speech asking the students what a flag representing Christianity would look like.[7] Overton thought about his improvised speech for many years afterward. In 1907, he and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag.[8] With regard to the Christian symbolism of the Christian Flag:

The Federal Council of Churches, now succeeded by the National Council of Churches and Christian Churches Together, adopted the flag on 23 January 1942.[1] The Christian Flag intentionally has no patent, as the designer dedicated the flag to all of Christendom.[9] The famous hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby, devoted a hymn titled “The Christian Flag”, with music by R. Huntington Woodman, in its honour;[1] like the flag, the hymn is also free use.[10] On the Sunday nearest 26 September 1997, the Christian Flag celebrated its one hundredth anniversary.[11]


The Christian Flag displayed alongside the flag of the United States next to the pulpit in a church in California. Note the eagle and cross finials on the flag poles.

The flag was first accepted by the mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, and by the 1980s many institutions had described policies for displaying it inside churches. During World War II the flag was flown along with the U.S. flag in a number of Lutheran churches, many of them with German backgrounds, who wanted to show their solidarity with the United States during the war with Germany.

The Christian Flag spread outside North America with Protestant missionaries. It can be seen today in or outside many Protestant churches throughout the world, particularly in Latin America and Africa, It has so far been adopted by some churches in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well.[2] Eastern Orthodox, especially parishes in the Western Rite tradition have only recently started to use the flag.[12]


A version of the Christian Flag, specialized for the Eastern Orthodox Church

Some churches practice a "pledge of allegiance" or "affirmation of loyalty" to the Christian Flag, which is similar to the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. The first pledge was written by Lynn Harold Hough, a Methodist minister who had heard Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary to the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, promoting the Christian flag at a rally.[13] He wrote the following pledge:

Some more conservative churches may use an alternative version of the pledge:

Denominational flags

Many Christian denominations have their own denominational flag and display it alongside the Christian Flag or independent from it.[14]

Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See often display the Vatican flag along with their respective national flag, typically on opposite sides of the sanctuary, near the front door, or hoisted on flagstaffs outside. Individual dioceses may also fly flags based on the diocesan coat of arms.

Eastern Orthodox Churches, particularly jurisdictions of the Greek Orthodox Church under the direct authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, often display his flag, which is a Byzantine double-headed eagle on a yellow (Or) field.

Parishes in the Cross of St. Andrew formed by nine cross-crosslets (representing the nine original dioceses) on a blue background.

The Salvation Army has a flag with a blue border (symbolizing the purity of God the Father), a red field (symbolizing the blood of Jesus Christ), and a gold eight-pointed star (symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit). The star bears the Salvation army's motto, "Blood and Fire".

The New Testament Greek on it. From the band sprout the points of a compass (symbolising the spread worldwide of Anglicanism). On the "North" of the compass is a mitre (a symbol of apostolic order essential to all Churches and Provinces constituting the Anglican Communion).

The Church of Scotland use a Flag of Scotland depicting the Burning Bush (or Unburnt Bush, in some traditions).

The Celtic Cross.

The Church of Ireland use the St Patrick's Saltire but also use the Compass-rose Flag of the Anglican Communion equally.

Additionally, many Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches maintain the use of the Labarum, a historical symbol of Christianity, which is rarely used as a flag at present.

National flags

All the flags based on the Flag of Moldova, and Flag of Serbia all display a cross representing Christianity.[19] The Flag of Portugal also has Christian symbolism, bearing the five wounds of Christ.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Resolution". Federal Council Bulletin (Religious Publicity Service of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America). 25-27. 1942. 
  2. ^ a b Fifty-Eighth Annual Session.  
  3. ^ "The Christian Flag".  
  4. ^ The American Lutheran. 22–24. American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. 1939. 
  5. ^ A Theological Miscellany. Thomas Nelson. 24 March 2005. The flag is white (for purity and peace), with a blue field (faithfulness, truth, and sincerity) and a red cross (the sacrifice of Christ). 
  6. ^ "The Christian Flag". Prayer Foundation. Retrieved 2007-10-18. The flag's most conspicuous symbol is the Christian cross, the most universal symbol for Christianity. The red color represents the blood of Christ and brings to mind his crucifixion. Christians believe that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection is the means God uses to save believers from their sins. The cross and blood have been used since earliest Christianity to symbolize salvation through Jesus; in the words of the Apostle Paul, "And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;" — Colossians 1:20. The white field draws on symbolism throughout the Bible equating white clothes with purity and forgiveness. People who have been "washed white as snow" in the Bible have been cleansed from their sins (Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:2). In conventional vexillology (the study of flags, their history and symbolism), a white flag is linked to surrender, a reference to the Biblical description Jesus' non-violence and surrender to God's will. The symbolism behind the blue canton has been interpreted to represent Heaven, truth, or the Christian ritual of Baptism in water. 
  7. ^ a b "Christian Flag".  
  8. ^ Coffman, Elesha. "Do you know the history of the Christian flag?". Christianity Today. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Christian Flag".  
  10. ^ The Quiver. Cassell Limited. 1900. p. 380. Retrieved 4 May 2014. Miss Fanny J. Crosby, the veteran American hymn writer, has dedicated a hymn, called “The Christian Flag,” to the movement, the first verse of which is :— “ The Christian Flag! 
  11. ^ James R. Pollock, Ph.D., D.D. (23 March 1996). Congratulations to The Christian Flag, Fourth Edition. 
  12. ^ Fr. Brian Daniels. "Flags in Church" (in Roann and Indiana). 
  13. ^ a b c "Ask the expert", Christianity Today, Jul 13, 2001  .
  14. ^ Christian Flag Facts, Montney .
  15. ^ Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic. p. 88.  
  16. ^ Evans, Andrew (2008). Iceland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 27.  
  17. ^ Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 88.  
  18. ^ Foley, Carol A. (1 January 1996). The Australian Flag. Federation Press. p. 10.  
  19. ^ a b c Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic. p. 88.  
  20. ^ McCandless, Byron; Grosvenor, Gilbert Hovey (1917). Flags of the World. National Geographic Society. p. 403. The Portugal man-of-war (1182) and merchant flags (1183 and 1184) bore the same distinguishing features— five shields with the five circles representing the five wounds of Christ, the castles surrounding the inner shields and the armillary sphere, reminiscent of that nation's maritime prowess in the sixteenth century, 200 years ago, as they do now. 

Further reading

  • Balmer, Randall Herbert (2002), Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Baylor University Press, p. 134 .
  • Land, Richard (2011), The Divided States of America?: What Liberals and Conservatives Get Wrong about Faith and Politics (revised ed.), Thomas Nelson, p. 41 .
  • Marvin, C (1996), "Blood sacrifice and the nation: Revisiting civil religion", Journal of the American Academy of Religion .

External links

  • Coffman, Elesha (13 July 2001), "Christian History & Biography", Christianity Today 
  • History & Symbolism of the Christian Flag, Society of the Christian Flag 
  • "The Christian Flag Hymn", The Christian Flag, Cyber Hymnal 
  • Sidwell, Mark (18 December 1998), "The Christian Flag", Fundamentalism File Research Report, BJU 
  • "Christian Flag", Flags of the World 
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