The Christian Flag: History, Meaning, and Pledge of Allegiance

The Christian Flag is an ecumenical flag designed in the early 20th century to represent much of Christianity and Christendom.

Updated Jan 12, 2024
The Christian Flag: History, Meaning, and Pledge of Allegiance

The Christian Flag is an ecumenical flag designed in the early 20th century to represent much of Christianity and Christendom.

Overview of the Christian Flag

Adopted - 1897 (unofficial); 1942

Format - A white banner with a red Latin Cross charged upon a blue canton

Created by - Charles C. Overton and Ralph Eugene Diffendorfer

Since its adoption by the Federal Council of Churches in 1942, it has been used by congregations of many Christian traditions, including Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed, among others.

History of the Christian Flag

The Christian Flag was first conceived on 26 September 1897, at Brighton Chapel on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Charles C. Overton, the administrator of the Sunday school, delivered an improvised speech to the gathered students because the planned speaker failed to arrive. His talk included asking the students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. Overton reflected on his impromptu lecture and the idea of a Christian flag in the years after and in 1907 he and Ralph Diffendorfer created the current design and began promoting the flag.

Meaning of the Christian Flag

The Christian flag has a white field, with a red Latin cross within a blue canton. The tint of red on the cross signifies the blood of Christ shed at Calvary. The blue symbolizes the waters of baptism as well as the devotion of Jesus. The white illustrates Jesus' purity and holiness.

In 1909, The Christian Advocate, a weekly newspaper that was published by the Methodist Episcopal Church, described the origin of the Christian flag, saying:

"Within recent years (1897) a flag has been designed which shall stand as an emblem... which all Christian nations and various denominations may rally in allegiance and devotion. This banner is called the Christian flag. It was originated by Charles C. Overton of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose first thought of it came to him while addressing a Sunday school at a rally day service. The flag is most symbolic. The ground is white, representing peace, purity and innocence. In the upper corner is a blue square, the color of the unclouded sky, emblematic of heave, the home of the Christian; also a symbol of faith and trust. in the center of the blue is the cross, the ensign and chosen symbol of Christianity: the cross is red, typical of Christ's blood. The use of the national flag in Christian churches has become almost universal throughout the world."

The ecumenical association, Federal Council of Churches (now succeeded by the National Council of Churches) adopted the flag on January 23rd, 1942. The Christian Flag deliberately has had no copyright or trademark rights joined to it, as the creator freely devoted the flag to all of Christendom. Fanny Crosby wrote the words to a hymn called "The Christian Flag" with music by R. Huntington Woodman. Just as the flag, the hymn is free to use without copyrights. On the Sunday nearest September 26th, 1997, the Christian Flag observed its one-hundredth anniversary.

Christian Flag waving in the wind

Pledge to the Christian Flag

Some Christians and churches utilize a "pledge of allegiance" to the Christian Flag, which is analogous to the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag. The first pledge was written by Lynn Harold Hough, a Methodist minister who had heard Ralph Diffendorfer promoting the Christian flag at a rally. He then composed the following pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Saviour for whose kingdom it stands; one brotherhood, uniting all mankind in service and in love.

More conservative evangelical, Lutheran, and Baptist churches and educational organizations may use this alternative version of the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Saviour for whose Kingdom it stands; one Saviour, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe.

Use of the Christian Flag

Mainline Protestant sects in the United States first accepted the flag, and by the 1980s many organizations had defined policies for including it inside churches. The Federal Council of Churches advised that if the Christian Flag is to be flown alongside a national flag, the Christian Flag should have the place of honor. Evangelical Christian schools in the United States customarily display the Christian flag along with the U.S. flag.

The Christian Flag also spread beyond North America with Christian missionaries. It is seen today within or outside many Christian churches throughout the world, particularly in Latin America and Africa. By the 1930s the flag had been embraced by some Protestant churches in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well.

The Christian Flag is not patented and therefore as Ralph Diffendorfer stated, "Anyone may manufacture it, and it may be used on all proper occasions."

Is the Christian Flag Biblical?

While the flag itself is not biblical, its design incorporates Christian symbolism, and its use is more of a cultural or religious expression rather than a directly biblical mandate. It is important to note that symbols and flags are human creations and interpretations, and their significance may vary among different Christian denominations and individuals.

Where to Buy a Christian Flag

Because the Christian flag is free to print and distribute, it can be found in many places online.

We searched and found the best deal on Amazon with good reviews:
Buy a Christian Flag HERE

Photo credit: Getty/Ajax9's editorial staff is a team of writers with a background in the Christian faith and writing experience. We work to create relevant, inspiring content for our audience and update timely articles as necessary.


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