Flying Christian flag above U.S. flag isn’t a federal crime

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Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, NC built a flag pole in front of its building for one purpose: to fly the U.S. flag below the Christian flag.The church is protesting the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage and showing that it will “serve God rather than men.”

The move raises a host of questions, not the least of which is the legality of the action. Is it a federal crime to raise another flag above the U.S. flag? The simple answer is that it’s a violation of etiquette but isn’t a crime.

Title 4, Chapter 1 § 7 of the U.S. Code does provide explicit language on the position of flags:

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.

Flying the Christian flag higher than the U.S. flag obviously goes against this stipulation. However, the “Flag Code” is a codification of flag etiquette; civilians are not required to follow them. There are no punishments, fines, or other penalties for violating the rules.

According to the Congressional Research Service, federal courts have consistently ruled that the Flag Code “does not proscribe conduct, but is merely declaratory and advisory.”

So, the protest by Elizabeth Baptist Church it’s not an act of civil disobedience because they’re not breaking any laws. It may be offensive, but it’s perfectly legal.

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  • Larry

    Its not flying over a government building. They could be flying a Nazi flag for all I care. Its tasteless but the 1st Amendment covers tasteless.

  • Garson Abuita

    What a surprise. The Southern Baptist Convention, of which this church is a member, was a supporter of the Iraq war. I bet they had their “Support the Troops” yellow ribbons on the back of their Hummers too. Guess it’s easy to be a fake patriot.

  • Fran

    Why is a “religious flag” even necessary when personal religious beliefs and exercise of faith are more important than a piece of cloth? Humans are so preoccupied with “all” kinds of flags for some reason, something to idolize.

  • Edward

    Christianity’s next step in it’s war on American liberty and freedom. It’s a spit in the face of every person who ever served in the United States military, christian or nonchristian. This is a nation of religious freedom, which means you get to worship God as you see fit, not how someone else dictates like christians who continue to try to undermine liberty by legislating their beliefs. People who do not follow your religion in America are NOT obligated to follow your religions rules. This means if your not jewish, you can eat pork. If your not muslim, you can draw a picture of Muhammad. If your not Christian, you can eat pork, shrimp, get tattoos or pursue their happiness.

    If your terrified of muslims and shariah law, but not christians and their law, your a fool.

  • Ian McGinty

    Maybe I don’t fully comprehend the symbolism of flags, but this seems to be a very sensible way to fly the flags. Our pledge of allegience to the U.S. flag states that we are “One nation, under God”. To display a Christian flag above the U.S. flag seems to be in keeping with the very order put forth in the pledge.

  • Garson Abuita

    And I bet Diane Rehm will never ask them on a nationally syndicated radio broadcast whether they’re dual citizens.

  • MarkE

    The shallowness of the faith of many of these conservoChristians is appalling. Certainly, it is their right to fly the Christian flag (where is it described in the Bible?) above Old Glory as much as it is another’s right to burn it in protest. I’ll bet the good leaders at Elizabeth Baptist Church would howl endlessly about that! And I would wager that there are large portions of Jesus’ teaching that they either are unaware of (doubtful), ignore (likely), or dislike and choose their own way (more likely). Either way, the hypocrisy is stultifying.

  • Stacie

    Men raise flags when they can’t get anything else up. 🙂

  • Stacie

    Oh, there’s your confusion – you think mainstream American churches have something to do with “The Bible” or “Christ.” Lol…

  • Michael Gates

    God Bless Elizabeth Baptist Church for taking this godly stand.

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