Origin of the so-called “Christian Flag” and of the Pledge to that Flag
By Pastor Greg Wilson
The so-called “Christian Flag” was the brain-child of Charles C. Overton, the Sunday School Superintendent of Brighton Chapel, Coney Island, New York. Brighton Chapel was affiliated with the Congregationalist Church.
The Congregationalist Church grew out of New England Puritanism and became prominent in various liberal social movements including Abolitionism and Women’s Suffrage.
It is safe to assume that Mr. Overton would have maintained a low opinion of the Confederate cause and of Southerners in general.
Overton organized a great Patriotic Sunday School Rally that was held on September 26, 1897. No doubt US flags were much in evidence and it is recorded that the pulpit was draped with such a flag. This was still the era of “waving the bloody shirt,” and it could be anticipated that there would be much rhetoric against the South and its Cause during what the yankees called “The War of the Rebellion.”
Much to Mr. Overton’s displeasure, his invited speaker failed to arrive and he himself was forced to address the large assembly of youth without having opportunity to prepare.
Overton used the flag draped over the pulpit as inspiration and illustration. He began by speaking in detail of the meaning and symbolism of the US Flag. As he proceeded he began to contemplate and expound upon the creation of a Christian Flag, which would be derived from and styled similarly to the US Flag. One source indicated that: “In the heat of patriotic fervor, Overton wished out loud for a flag that could represent all of Christendom.”
Of course, a flag that represents “all of Christendom” cannot represent true Christianity, for the vast majority of “Christendom” is far removed from Biblical Christianity. In particular that variety of “Christendom” practiced amongst the liberal Congregationalist churches of the north and their embrace of the “social gospel” bears only passing resemblance to New Testament Christianity.
Most sources indicate that Overton, with the assistance of a seamstress, completed the flag he envisioned and presented it to his congregation the very next Sunday, October 3, 1897.
During the early 1900s Overton, with the assistance of Ralph Diffendorfer, actively promoted the usage of his so-called “Christian Flag” amongst the churches of the north.
Diffendorfer, who was the secretary to the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, was born in Hayesville, Ohio and educated at the liberal cesspools of Ohio Wesleyan University, Drew Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary.
In 1908, Dr. Lynn Harold Hough, wrote the pledge to Overton’s “Christian Flag” after witnessing one of Mr. Diffendorfer’s promotional presentations.
Dr. Hough was another extremely liberal northern Methodist clergyman. His views on Evolution brought controversy even amongst northern liberals and in 1925, charges of heresy were brought against him in response to his sermon entitled: “Charles Darwin, Evolution and the Christian Religion.”
Hough’s liberal views caused him to strongly support the entry of the US into the League of Nations and when that action was opposed by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Hough lambasted that group, asserting that they should instead be called the Daughters of the KKK (March 1928).
Hough’s liberal and ecumenical background explains the broad and ambiguous pledge that he wrote:
- I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one brotherhood uniting all mankind in service and love.
The one-world ecumenical universalism promoted by Hough’s original pledge is contrary to Biblical Christianity, American Constitutionalism and plain common sense. Indeed it sounds very much like a “pledge” that might have been recited at the Tower of Babel, when mankind first attempted to unite in a universal effort to lift themselves to heaven by their own combined endeavors.
Many other pledges to Overton’s flag have been authored since, all patterned after Hough’s original:
- I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe.
- I affirm my loyalty to the Christian Flag and to our savior whose cross it bears, one spiritual fellowship under that cross, uniting us in service and love.
- I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and Liberty to all who repent and believe The Gospel.
- I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; One brotherhood, uniting all true Christians in service and in love.
- I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the gospel for which it stands; One Savior, crucified, risen and coming again, with life eternal for all who believe.
I have no doubt that the pledge was altered with the best of intentions, however, as a Christian, as a Baptist, as a Southerner, as an American, I cannot endorse any of the various forms of that pledge, nor the flag they attempt to honor.
As the Catholics already have their Papal Flag, Overton’s flag became widely known as the “Protestant Flag.” However, today Overton’s flag is increasingly used in Catholic churches as well.
According to various authors Overton’s “Christian Flag” is:
- Accepted by the Mainline Protestant denominations in the United States.
- Part of Christian culture in America, without regard to denomination, creed, or affiliation.
- Displayed in some 244,000 churches.
- Seen today in or outside many Protestant churches throughout the world, particularly in Latin America and Africa, as well as some Roman Catholic churches. . . Eastern Orthodox, and other branches of Christianity have only recently started to use the flag.
Personally, I cannot display Overton’s “Christian Flag” for a multitude of reasons. Amongst them:
- I strongly oppose the ecumenism associated with the flag.
- As it is properly designated a “Protestant flag”, it is inappropriate to display it in a Baptist church, as true Baptists are not Protestants and never have been such.
- The flag is very closely associated with the US flag and with the shallow and mindless “patriotism” associated with that flag and with the pledge to the flag.
- The flag and its pledge are steeped in northern liberalism, abolitionism, theological liberalism, ecumenism, one-worldism, etc.
- Baptists reject the concept of the Universal Invisible Church, which is promoted by both Overton’s Christian flag and Hough’s pledge to it.
As I see it, for me to display, embrace or pledge to Overton’s “Christian Flag” would be to tread underfoot my Baptist and Southern forefathers.
Concluding Food for Thought:
As I understand the Scriptures, I believe that in the not too distant future there will arise a one-world government and a one-world religion. I see no reason to doubt that both this government and this religion will embrace the so-called “Christian Flag.”
I am also certain that the Anti-Christ will not embrace the banners bore by our forefathers in their struggles for freedom and liberty -- St. Andrew’s Cross, the Confederate Battle Flag, the Gadsden Flag, etc. That is why I choose to display these banners, in lieu of the Striped Rag of the Empire (the US Flag) and Overton’s so-called “Christian Flag.”