The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Flag isn't sacred

Keep U.S. flag outside of worship space

Is it appropriate to display the U.S. flag in the church sanctuary?

It is acceptable to appropriately display the U.S. flag in a sanctuary. Two congregations I served did so. But when the congregation I now serve recently discussed placing the flag in the sanctuary, I was opposed. I love my country, am grateful for all that this citizenship means and fly the flag at home on appropriate occasions. So why no flag in the sanctuary?

First, this is holy and sacred space dedicated to God. It's not, in the first instance, public or national space. All focus must be on the signs and symbols central to our faith in Jesus Christ and used by the Spirit to deepen our worship and encounter with the living God. At the center must be the cross, altar, font and pulpit.

But more, the church must be a welcoming place to all, even to those who find it hard to identify with this country. We are a global church. The United States is our context, but we are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, not of America.

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February issue


Embracing diversity