I Pledge Allegiance to the Christian Flag?
Flags get people all bent out of shape, that’s for sure. They will kill and die to defend them and freak out if you let them touch the ground and stuff like that. Today I learned there’s a “Christian flag” which has been around since the late 1900s. I’d never seen it before! In Catholic school, we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America every morning—then we said our prayers. After all that forced pledging, you’d think I’d care about the Stars and Stripes, but Old Glory arouses no sentiment in my jaded little heart. I’m one of those Americans who enjoys a certain standard of living but daydreams about living the “good” life in, say, Canada or New Zealand.
Recently, an old Air Force coot has been guarding the Christian flag ’round the clock against ACLU types who want it taken down from a war memorial in a public park, in King, NC, where said Christian flag is a popular attraction. It seems to me they’re either going to have to take it down, or load the place up with flags of many religions like that cheesy Coexist bumper sticker, which reminds me of the worst of liberal wishy-washiness. Something about all the letters cleverly turned into little symbols kinda makes me feel a little violent, which isn’t really the point. When I see all those cutesy signs, well-meaning as they are, I feel like I have to pick one or I don’t count somehow, which pisses me off. Because I don’t see myself in those symbols, where do I exist in this little bumper sticker universe? “Coexist” is such a tepid word, anyway. It evokes a stale marriage or living next door to people you hate. It’s not really all that inspirational. It implies white-knuckling your way through something you’d rather not endure.
Now, about this Christian flag. It kind of scares the crap out of me. No vexillologist am I, but my first instinct is to get the hell away from it. It seems like something from A Handmaid’s Tale (hands down, one of the scariest books I have ever read) -type future. In the Republic of Gilead, when the maids (fertile women who are kept as servants and child bearers) have to go to town for supplies, there are only simple pictures of eggs and milk marking store entrances because maids are not supposed to read. The Christian flag would fit nicely in this universe.
The Christian flag is said to be based on Old Glory, but where are the stars? The stripes? The people they represent? All we get is a cross in canton position and a vast field of white, which, I hate to say, reminds me a lot of the KKK: all that whiteness and the insistent cross. I don’t feel included in this flag. It’s either Jesus, or nothing. I don’t think that Catholics need apply, and certainly not people of other religious persuasions. Which makes me wonder again: why do people care so much about these stupid pieces of fabric and logos that they fight and kill for them all the time? Isn’t the idea more important than the object that represents it? Shouldn’t your faith be strong enough to withstand the removal of its flag from an allegedly nonsectarian place? But I suppose they are important, because if they start hoisting that thing with Old Glory as a matter of course, I’m heading straight for the Maple Leaf.
Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.