The U.S. flag displayed inside churches

The Protestant church where I grew up had two flags displayed at the front of the sanctuary: The flag of our church, and the U.S. flag on the other side. I always wondered why the U.S. flag was on display there, as in my mind it had nothing to do with religion.

My impression (although memory is hazy) is that this is common, at least in Protestant churches in the U.S.

Is this as common as I think it is? Do other religions do the same thing in the U.S. (Catholic, Jewish, any others)? Is this done abroad? When and why did this practice originate?

In Peru, many Catholic churches have the Peruvian flag on one side and the Vatican flag on the other.

Everyone has done it.

Every church (Catholic) I’ve ever attended had a US and Vatican flag. Given the likelihood that Catholics had to prove they were Americans First in WWII, I imagine this started in the 40s.

In the Catholic Church in the US, it’s up to the bishop. However, it’s encourage that the flag be outside of the sanctuary (the space for the altar, the ambo, the presidential chair and the tabernacle) or in the vestibule of the church.

There’s the Vatican flag (remember it’s a nation too) and American one hanging from two Catholic churches’ back balconies/choir lofts near me. Don’t know where St. Patrick’s keeps theirs. During July 4th, 9/11 memorials, or funerals for veterans or a military casualty the American flags are brought up front but kept down next to the coffin, not up on the altar or ambo area.

I noticed Canadian flags in a similar position in Nova Scotia, so it’s not just an American thing.

It’s not common for Catholic churches in Australia to permanently display a flag (Australian or papal). The exception would be at the annual Anzac Day masses.

Non-practicing Methodist here. Yep, the church flag and the American flag. Never gave it a thought until now!

I’ve seen it in some Synagogues, not in others. This is mostly in the northeast.

Most synagogues I’ve been to have an American flag on one side of the bimah and an Israeli flag on the other.

My experience as well.

I’ve seen it in some Episcopal churches. Usually not displayed too prominently except maybe on July 4 or some funerals.

I’ve never seen a flag, British or Vatican, in Catholic churches in Britain.

Strikes me as a very odd concept.

I thought I remembered seeing it in the church where I grew up, but certainly I haven’t seen it in 20 years, if I ever did.

The church I attended as a child in Ontario had a Canadian flag, as well as a church flag.

There was a move in the Church of England some years ago (pre-2007, while we were still living in London) to have the St Georges Cross (the English Flag) flown outside its churches. But, I agree that to have any flag flying inside a church would be odd…

But in America, center right patriotism and religion (usually of the Christian flavour) do tend to go hand-in-hand.


I think people are over thinking this.

Pretty much anywhere in this country that displays a flag displays the US flag. If you’re only displaying one it’s almost always the US Flag. If you’re displaying more than one the second flag is almost a US flag. It’s not so much a church thing as it is a flag thing.

The 2005 Regional Conference for the LDS church in South Korea began with the South Korean national anthem. The national flag was displayed through the entire conference.

In the case of Roman Catholicism or Judaism, I can understand how if one national flag is displayed (Vatican or Israel) then you have to also display the U.S. flag. So far that makes sense.

But if the church flag is not the flag of another country, why display the U.S. flag?

The pastor of the small Lutheran congregation in which I grew up cited the Nazi’s insistence on having the swastika prominently displayed in German churches as a reason for not doing so in ours. That said, the U.S. flag and a Lutheran flag were posted in the back corners of our sanctuary.