The question of whether houses of worship should display American flags is no small matter for some believers, regardless of which side they fall on.
Some say that doing so mixes religion with American nationalism -- a slippery slope bordering on idolatry. "How is it not idolatry to place the flag on the same level of importance with, say, the cross?" evangelical writer Roger E. Olson asks.
Others, like author Lisa Velthouse, find no fault with the practice of displaying flags in church. In an op-ed for Christianity Today, Velthouse writes:
Putting the flag in our local church does not mean we have made religion bow to nation. The symbol cannot be blamed. A flag on its own cannot display a community's full point of view; it is up to the community to do that.
It may be up to community members to determine the flag's importance to them, but within the country as a whole there is perhaps no symbol that carries greater significance. Government regulations require all manner of etiquette surrounding the flag, including the following as pertains to churches:
When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
Religious observers may feel caught between faith and patriotism, but some simply couldn't care less. What do you think?
Vote in our poll on whether you think houses of worship should display the American flag.