Religious Questions: Is it illegal to fly the Christian Flag next to the American Flag?

A US flag flies above the Christian (Protestant) flag / Getty Images

Editor's note: This article is part of "Religion: Got questions?," a series answering your biggest religious questions. Each week, we will answer one submitted faith question. To send a submission visit or email

Question: What are the rules around flying Christian flags and the American flag?

Answer: On a Friday afternoon in October, a red Farmall tractor pulling a trailer with a white wooden cross and several supporters of Christ is the Answer Ministries passed the Times Free Press building.

On the front of the tractor flew two American flags. On the trailer, a white and navy flag with a red cross moved in the wind. The Christian flag, while not as popular as it used to be, is still displayed outside churches and several residences, most often in the Protestant tradition.

The rules around flying the Christian flag alongside the American flag are more guideline than law, since the flag code is not enforced.

However, according to Title 4 of the U.S. Code: "No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy."

Basically, the Christian flag or any other flag should be flown below the American flag. But if you do not want to follow the guideline, no one can really stop you.

The Christian flag has not gone without controversy among both believers and non-believers. In July 2015, the North Carolina pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church began flying the Christian flag above the American flag on a pole because he believed Christians should be more concerned with the laws of God than the laws of the government. America was becoming increasingly secularized and Christians needed to move against the change, the pastor said.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has repeatedly pushed for the removal of the Christian flags from public sites. In May, the foundation asked the Bleckley County Sheriff's Office to stop flying the Christian flag at its headquarters.

From the reporter

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