What America needs is a new Christian flag. At least that’s what Marcia Thompson Eldreth thought in April 2003, when her Southern Baptist pastor preached that every believer should fly the Christian flag, even if someone had to make a new one.
The idea stuck with Eldreth, a trained artist and member of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md., who had done several drawings and paintings over the years.
According to a testimony on her Web site, Eldreth wondered why people aren’t flying the existing Christian flag, a white banner with a blue canton and a red cross, which is a staple in many church sanctuaries. “It is crisp and dignified, but politely cold,” she concluded. “I knew there was a need for an additional flag.”
Dubbed “Beauty and Bands,” after Zechariah 11:7, her flag design features an eagle carrying a wooden cross, representing American Christians taking the gospel around the world. A band of purple represents Christ’s royalty, a white field his purity, a red ring his shed blood and a blue circle his bruises.
Fifty stars create the border of the flag. They represent “all the Christians of the United States banding together to protect our right to preach the gospel and to protect our Christian heritage.”
“Our nation was built on Christian principles,” she said on her Web site. “We believe this is why God has blessed us with bounty and strength.”
Scriptures on the flag are Matthew 24:4, “Take heed lest no man deceive you,” and Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world … and then shall the end come.”
The site also carries a pledge to the new flag: “I pledge allegiance, to the Christian Flag of the United States of America, and to the Lord, who made us great and free. I purpose, to band together, with all believers, to protect the truth and liberty of God.”
The 55-year-old Eldreth calls her mission “Operation Band Together.” She hopes that Christians in all 50 states will fly the National Christian Flag as a “wave offering,” an Old Testament ceremony where an offering is made to God by waving the object, such as a sheaf of grain or a loaf of bread, toward the four points of the compass (e.g. Num 18:11, Lev 23:10-20).
According to Sunday’s Baltimore Sun, Eldreth has made 2,500 of the banners but isn’t sure how many she has sold.
Sales received a boost on June 14, 2004, when Pat Robertson featured the flag on his “700 Club” television show. They will likely spike again, when the taped segment appears on the program for a second time today, Flag Day.
The flag got additional exposure last year when she gave some to American Veterans Standing for God and Country, the group that took Justice Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument on a nationwide tour. Eldred’s flag traveled along with 5,200-pound granite rock on a flatbed truck that visited 164 communities in 21 states during eight months of touring the United States.
The traditional Christian flag was conceived in 1897 at Brighton Chapel in Coney Island, N.Y. Today is one of the oldest unchanged flags in the world and is displayed in sanctuaries and classrooms in an estimated 244,000 churches.
The first pledge to the Christian flag was written by Methodist pastor Lynn Harold Hough in 1908: “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.”
Unlike the Christian flag, which belongs to all Christians regardless of nationality or denomination, Eldreth’s National Christian Flag is unapologetically American.
In a press release dated May 28, she said American Christians today can display the same kind of “fighting spirit” as armies marching with their nation’s flag to war.
“Our enemies are, in part, domestic” she said. Along with being a “Wave Offering unto our Lord,” she urged supporters to view her flag both as a “declaration of war on Satan and his lies of liberalism and secularism” and “a prophetic proclamation of Christ’s second coming.”
“I am not politically correct,” she confessed. “Many here in northeastern Maryland have risen up, along with millions of other likeminded Christians, to come against the lies of secularism and liberalism. We are here to declare truth. That is the only way our nation will remain free. Christ is truth and His Word is truth.”
While Maryland isn’t normally considered a hotbed of fundamentalism, Eldreth said in Annapolis, the capital, they refer to the northeastern part of the state as “the Bible belt of Maryland.”
She said her church has been host to several Reclaiming America rallies, which are sponsored by D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries.
Harold Michael Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church, was one of two nationwide recipients of Kennedy’s Salt & Light Award in October 2003.
Phillips is author of The Sinking/Saving of America and host of a radio program called “Biblically Correct.”
He is a former vice president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and preached the annual convention sermon in 2003. In 1999 he served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Nominations.
As the man who inspired Eldred’s flag, Phillips told the Baltimore Sun he views the project as a success. “I think it’s a great flag,” he said. “I think it will catch on. It may take a few years.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.