A church can display the flag of the magistrate in good conscience. As the history of the practice indicates, a national flag in a church is not a sign of idolatry, but a reminder to the faithful to remember the specific magistrate we pray for, and what we rightfully expect from him.
This summer, Christianity Today ran an article about Protestant pastors’ views on displaying national flags in sanctuaries and on church property. Many American evangelicals, especially white-collar evangelicals, increasingly view flags in churches as garish and idolatrous, signs of the benighted “Christian nationalism” they fear is sweeping through evangelicalism in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidency. At The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter has argued that “the symbols of the American nation don’t have a place in the embassy of the kingdom of God.” “Such veneration for our country within our churches detracts from the glory of the gospel,” he wrote. If “we pledge allegiance to a flag in the house of God, we should question whether we aren’t skirting the edges of idolatry.”
But according to the article in Christianity Today, global pastors disagree with the reflexive denunciation of flags as idolatrous. The piece included comments from pastors around the world. Arab ministers affirmed the presence of national flags in their churches. An Egyptian pastor said he agreed “with displaying the flag of my country in the church. The flag of my country only and not other countries, as it is a spiritual and not a political orientation.” The purpose of raising his flag, he argued, was to keep his heart united with his people in “prayer for the salvation of their souls. It’s to remember that I must stand in the gap for my people, that they may know the Lord and see the light of the gospel and to tell my country and my people how much I love them and pray for them.”
A Jordanian minister said he “strongly” believed “that each church building should post the flag on the building and in the sanctuary.” He and his elders made the decision to do so “in order to show our loyalty as citizens to the country of Jordan. We believe that by doing so, we are a good example and testimony to others and also following the teachings of the Bible.” An Indonesian minister said that “when we display the flag in our church, it is not to express idolatry. We want to honor our national identity. It reminds us of our responsibilities as Christian citizens. It’s also a sign of gratitude for living in Indonesia.” A pastor from Nigeria noted that a flag was a “symbol of a country and flying it indicates the importance of the country.”