Poll

Does your church/sanctuary regularly display flags?

No
24 (34.3%)
Yes - the Stars and Stripes
24 (34.3%)
Yes - the papal flag
2 (2.9%)
Yes - the banner or flag of the congregation
1 (1.4%)
Yes - the flag with the symbol of the Synod or Church
19 (27.1%)

Total Members Voted: 42

Author Topic: Flags in Christian settings (poll)  (Read 4821 times)

Norman Teigen

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2013, 10:30:20 AM »
I am not in favor of placing the flag in the sanctuary of a church.
Norman Teigen

BrotherBoris

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2013, 10:42:59 AM »
Lou writes:

For Brother Boris: I also think there are some very good examples of the Church-State problem in the history of Tsarist Russia and its relationship to the Orthodox Communion.


Indeed!  I think that is one reason that in my jurisdiction (the OCA) we are so careful to stay away from political endorsements, political parties and the mixing of the Orthodox faith and politics.  It can be deadly, and the Church always gets burned in the end.  I know that in the OCA, at least, clergy are expressly forbidden from running for political office.  I know that in my parish discussion of politics is greatly frowned upon by the priests.  As Father Jacob says, "Politics is not dogma."  Different people can have different views on things.

Concerning Tsarist Russia, things really got bad under Peter the Great when the Moscow Patriarchate was disestablished and replaced by a layman called the "Oberprocurator" (a term borrowed from the state churches of Germany).  This, in effect, made the Russian Orthodox Church a mere department of the state, like the post office or the public school system. Although the period had some bright spots in it, the Church was reduced to that of compliant servant of the government at best.  It was not our finest hour.  Interestingly enough, as soon as Nicholas II abdicated, the Russian Church (suddenly being free of Tsarist rule), called an All Russian Council and elected a Patriarch in 1917/1918. He was a great man, named Tikhon Bellavin, and he had served as a bishop both in Russia and in America before he was elected Patriarch of Moscow.
Sadly though, shortly after he was elected Patriarch, the Communists took over and began persecuting the Church brutally. Tikhon himself was bullied, harassed and persecuted by the Communist authorities and sent to a mental institution (a favorite tactic of the Communists, since any "religion" was considered a "mental illness").  He was forcibly given drugs to make him go blind and died from a supposed "accidental" overdose of morphine in a Soviet prison hospital in 1925.


David Garner

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2013, 02:41:09 PM »
We do not.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

RogerMartim

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2013, 09:44:30 PM »
At the church I grew up in (LC-MS) and where my mother still is a member, one of the former pastors was a retired Navy chaplain. His sermons dripped with patriotic fervor the whole year long. (The church seemed to be more decorated on July 4 than at either Christmas or Easter.) About six months before he left he had a drive to raise $4,000 to erect three flag poles outside the church building where they could be seen by all who passed by; the tallest one in the middle reserved for the US flag, the others being the state flag and I think the LC-MS pennant. He encouraged every member to have a flag at their home entryways 365/24/7.

I probably wouldn't want to live anywhere else but in the US, but to me God is the God of the Universe, not just the US of A. I think that this over-adulation of the flag rears the head of the Ugly American.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2013, 10:24:07 PM »
The use of flags can certainty be over done, as can extolling the virtues of the USA.  God is not an America, but we are.  Even when God's people  live in a nation that does not acknowledge Him, they are still to pray for the nation where they live and the leaders.  Can we not also commend them for what is good, and critique what is wrong? 

If the church has nothing to say to the nationality, citizenship, and patriotism of our people, does that mean that is a part of their lives that is outside of their faith?

Dan
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 11:23:06 AM by Dan Fienen »
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FatherWilliam57

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2013, 04:28:27 PM »
They never had flags where I presently serve.  In my first congregation, I made them "disappear" during Lent...and conveniently forgot to put them back.  However, following the Easter Sunrise Service, some "helpful Hannah" put them back before the late service.  This happened three years in a row.  The fourth year, the flags somehow found their way to the basement of the parsonage.  Being a veteran myself helped me get away with it.  But what really "sealed the deal" was a woman, a war bride, who recounted her feelings as a teenager on the Sunday she arrived at worship in the old country to see all the Nazi flags around the altar.  That pretty much ended all discussion about flags in the sanctuary. 

My other bug-a-boo, besides flags, is when churches place "God Bless America" on their outdoor signs.  I usually respond by placing the following on our board:  "God Blessed America...and the rest of the world...by sending His Son."
The Rev. William B. Henry, Jr.
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Kurt Weinelt

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2013, 10:00:36 PM »
Best I can tell, Flags came to American Lutheranism with the two World Wars where Germany was the enemy and congregations felt impelled to emphasize that they were Americans...

Peace, JOHN

During WWI German-speaking Americans were in fact victims of violence. Lutheran churches were vandalized; some of these were actually Scandinavian Lutheran churches, but ignorant mobs didn't make distinctions. The fear of being perceived as traitors led to overt displays of patriotism, and dropping German services, church records, etc. Some towns even changed their names.

This didn't end with WWI. Down here in South Texas is an extremely remote town of Crystal City, known for growing spinach and being close to the Rio Grande. It also was home to an internment camp primarily for US citizens of German descent. http://www.traces.org/programs-link-contents/Texas-radio/texas-public-radio.html

My father-in-law's German immigrant mother had gold star in her window for her naval aviator son, and a silver star for her other son who flew 57 combat missions in Europe as a B-17 pilot. Yet that didn't stop local Wichita Falls natives from painting swastikas on her house for being a German.

Maybe a little understanding why this tradition developed and talking about it may be a first step in reasoning with parishioners when trying to remove the flags to narthex, parish hall, education wing etc. The reasons for the flags are pretty far removed from us in the "more sophisticated" 21st century; kind of like the now-obscure reason there is a First English Lutheran Church AND a Second English Lutheran Church in the Baltimore area.

Even though I am a veteran, I also am against national flags in the sanctuary; but I also understand one must choose one's battles wisely. And I certainly won't ridicule those who insist on keeping the flags in the sanctuary, even though I disagree with them.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 09:11:57 AM by Kurt Weinelt »
"Learning about history is an antidote to the hubris of the present, the idea that everything in OUR lives is the ultimate." David McCullough

Team Hesse

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2013, 10:26:11 PM »
The Japanese internment camps are a well-known chapter in the local history here in agriculture in the PNW. I had never heard of the camps for Germans and Italians before. Truly a very dark chapter in our history. Thanks for the link and the fascinating article.


I had several High School classmates whose families had been in the Japanese camps. I have been an avid listener to these stories when they have been told. Many of the very best irrigated acres in our region are today farmed by Japanese folks who had no home to return to and chose to stay in the desert regions where the camps were located so were first in line when irrigation development was brought to those acres after WWII. Nearly all Japanese farm families have stories to tell....


Lou

John Mundinger

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2013, 10:01:56 AM »
Best I can tell, Flags came to American Lutheranism with the two World Wars where Germany was the enemy and congregations felt impelled to emphasize that they were Americans...

Peace, JOHN

During WWI German-speaking Americans were in fact victims of violence. Lutheran churches were vandalized; some of these were actually Scandinavian Lutheran churches, but ignorant mobs didn't make distinctions. The fear of being perceived as traitors led to overt displays of patriotism, and dropping German services, church records, etc. Some towns even changed their names.

This didn't end with WWI. Down here in South Texas is an extremely remote town of Crystal City, known for growing spinach and being close to the Rio Grande. It also was home to an internment camp primarily for US citizens of German descent. http://www.traces.org/programs-link-contents/Texas-radio/texas-public-radio.html

My father-in-law's German immigrant mother had gold star in her window for her naval aviator son, and a silver star for her other son who flew 57 combat missions in Europe as a B-17 pilot. Yet that didn't stop local Wichita Falls natives from painting swastikas on her house for being a German.

Maybe a little understanding why this tradition developed and talking about it may be a first step in reasoning with parishioners when trying to remove the flags to narthex, parish hall, education wing etc. The reasons for the flags are pretty far removed from us in the "more sophisticated" 21st century; kind of like the now-obscure reason there is a First English Lutheran Church AND a Second English Lutheran Church in the Baltimore area.

Even though I am a veteran, I also am against national flags in the sanctuary; but I also understand one must choose one's battles wisely. And I certainly won't ridicule those who insist on keeping the flags in the sanctuary, even though I disagree with them.

My grandfather, a German Lutheran pastor, would have been imprisoned during WWI except for the fact that his children were buying U.S. saving stamps.

I am also a veteran.  I am of the opinion that must of what we celebrate as nationalism is the mythology that we use to excuse our love of unjust war.  For that reason, flags have no legitimate place in the sanctuary.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Terry W Culler

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2013, 10:32:38 AM »
Foreigners are often surprised at the ubiquity of American flags here.  Few people in Germany would think of hanging a German flag outside their house.  Few in Ethiopia would expect it in the sanctuary.  Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but it is also built into the American psyche.  We are a people of peoples, a nation of those who rejected their native lands in order to live in another place.  They elected to be Americans.  And being American is really an idea, not a race.  It is an idea that the average person is of value, not for what he can contribute to the nation, but for his very existence.  It is the idea of liberty that is at the heart of this land.  People celebrate America with flags because they know through some sort of inherited memory that things were once much worse for their families in another place.

We display an American flag in the back of the sanctuary.  It has no place at the altar of God, but its symbolism is not to be sneered at.  We also have a plaque in the back commemorating the people of St. Paul's who have served in the various wars of the 20th century.  Sad to say, there are a lot of names there.
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jmiller

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2013, 11:24:07 AM »
I wish our aging and dwindling congregations and largely empty churches provoked as much righteous indignation and vitriol as I have read in this thread.  I have seen many flags in many churches, but I have never seen them worshipped. Talk about majoring in the minors......

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2013, 12:05:18 PM »
jmiller's comment is very apt.  Thank you for sharing those sentiments.

The congregation I serve has an American flag and a Christian flag in the sanctuary.  They are even in the chancel area, hugging the outer walls.  No one makes a big deal of their placement.  No one agitates for their removal; no one agitates for them being given a more prominent spot.  We've got far more important matters to attend to in this congregation. 

Jeremy
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2013, 12:46:20 PM »
I wish our aging and dwindling congregations and largely empty churches provoked as much righteous indignation and vitriol as I have read in this thread.  I have seen many flags in many churches, but I have never seen them worshipped. Talk about majoring in the minors......


Have you tried removing them?
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

jmiller

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Re: Flags in Christian settings (poll)
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2013, 01:17:24 PM »
I wish our aging and dwindling congregations and largely empty churches provoked as much righteous indignation and vitriol as I have read in this thread.  I have seen many flags in many churches, but I have never seen them worshipped. Talk about majoring in the minors......


Have you tried removing them?

The aging and dwindling congregations? What a great idea!