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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about displaying American flags in churches.

August 13, 2008

The American flag in church: its different implications

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In response to Becky Akers's July 28 Opinion piece, "Does the American flag belong in a church?": If the American flag is just a wooden pole with a piece of fabric bearing a nationalistic symbol attached, I would agree it doesn't belong in a church. But, to me, it is much more than that.

The American Constitution came as a monumental gift to the world, unparalleled throughout history. Its chief theme is the freedom of man. The several freedoms it guarantees boil down to the freedom to think. That freedom is what tyrants most fear. And real freedom to think is a spiritual thing. It stems from freedom of religion. So to me, the American flag is resolved from a thing to a thought, the thought of freedom of religion.

Churches of many denominations display the flag in their sanctuaries, the most basic reason being gratitude for the right to worship according to conscience. Yes, the American flag belongs in a church.

Ralph W. Emerson
Tacoma, Wash.

Regarding the recent Opinion piece on flags in churches: The American flag represents inherent human ideals. Equality, freedom, truth, peace, love, personal worth, everlasting life, and justice compose a common sense of fairness.

The American difference was to instate laws in defense of this inherent mind-set. It seems the flag should be displayed within all religious establishments. This flag does not represent the oppressive mind-set and social world established by mankind.

If not from God, then from where is this sense of fairness derived?

Dinah Dubble
Belfair, Wash.

In response to the recent Opinion piece on the American flag in church: As a Roman Catholic priest, I believe that no flag of any nation should be displayed in church.

Some believe that the turning point of the church toward the worldly power of empire happened when Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity. Constantine was the first to carry a Christian symbol into battle by ordering that the cross be painted on the shields of his soldiers.

American flags displayed in churches reinforce the myth that God favors the United States over other nations, that America is a force for good in a holy war against "evildoers," that we are a "light on a hill" for the rest of the world.

Whenever the powers of state use religion to seek God's blessings on their endeavors, religion is profaned.

Churches should be sanctuaries for people of every race, culture, and way of life. National flags exclude.

The Rev. Rich Broderick
Cambridge, N.Y.

In response to the recent piece on flags in churches: For me, Ms. Akers's piece illustrated the reality that Christianity in the United States is drifting toward a civic religion, similar to that of the Roman Empire, where faith in the gods was seen as part of one's civic duties.