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The story of the Christian flag

The Christian flag is a symbol that began to be used by American Protestants, but has spread to some other Christian denominations. The idea was conceived in the 1890s, but nothing was done until 1907, when the use of the flag began to spread. The colours on the flag are symbolic of Christian themes.

The origins

Brighton Chapel In 1897 Charles Overton, a Sunday School superintendent at Brighton chapel, Coney Island, USA, faced a problem when his invited speaker had not arrived, so he had to devise an impromptu talk. Looking around, he took his inspiration from an American flag, but invited his congregation to discuss what symbols would be on a Christian flag. For twenty years, he mulled on the idea of a Christian flag and in 1907, he began to design it. Spread The flag is intended to signify Christianity. It should not be thought to represent Christendom, which is a medieval Christian political structure in Europe, to which America never belonged, and is now dissolved. The use of the flag is strong in Protestant churches in North America, but has spread to similar churches in Latin America and Africa, where Protestant missionaries have been active. Pledge of allegiance Americans pledge allegiance to their flag, so there are pledge of allegiance words that parallel this custom, beginning with "I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and the saviour for whose kingdom it stands..."

Colour symbolism

The flag is a red Latin Cross in a blue rectangle [canton in heraldry] and the rest of the flag is white. The Latin Cross is the cross which is used in churches of the western, as opposed to Orthodox tradition in the east. Its redness stands for the blood of Christ shed for humanity's sins. It also stands for the moral struggle involved in the Christian life when Christans take up their own personal cross. The blue represents the waters of baptism, which is meant to cleanse recipients from sin and eternal death. As baptism symbolises commitment to Jesus Christ, blue also represents Christain faithfulness through the trials of life. The white area of the flag stands for purity. This is not just sexual chastity, but the purity of spirit prescribed in the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." It is the purity of those who do not allow evil to take root in their hearts. The white also stands for non-violence, indicating that Christianity should not be spread by violence and that Christians should live peaceful lives.

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