THE symbol of the new crusade which calls itself “Christian citizenship,” is a cross, twined about by the flag of the United States.
We do not question the fitness of this symbol to represent that proposed union of religion with the state for which “Christian citizenship” stands. It is very suggestive on this point. But considering the cross as the symbol of Christianity, the emblem becomes altogether incongruous.
The American flag stands for the nation, as distinct from all other nations; for the interests of the United States, as distinct from those of all other countries on the earth. It has no meaning or significance which is not distinctly sectional.
Christianity, on the other hand, is distinctly non-sectional. It is for all classes and races of people alike. There is an American flag, but there is no American Christianity; there is an English flag, but there is no English Christianity. Nor is there French Christianity, nor Scandinavian Christianity, nor any other national Christianity. There is Christianity,—simply that, and nothing more.
Christianity is not susceptible of subdivisions into species and varieties. It is one and the same thing for all individuals on the earth.
And this is why there can be no such thing as national Christianity. Such a thing would partake of the distinctive qualities of the nation to which it pertained; otherwise there would be no force in calling it national. So we would have as many different kinds of Christianity as there might be nations who should choose to join themselves with it.
Christianity says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It sees not the cross and the flag, but the cross only.
The American flag, or any other national flag, stands for war as much as it does for peace. It is borne at the head of the armies and navies of the nations in deadly combat with each other. Nor does it change one iota on such an occasion from that which it is when wrapped about the cross to form the symbol of “Christian citizenship.” But Christianity stands for peace, and that always. Christianity is love, and not variance and bitterness.
The cross stands infinitely above the flag. The flag is of the earth: the cross is not of earth. No added meaning need or can be given, by anything on earth, to its wondrous significance as the token of salvation for a lost and dying race. Nor can the cross impart any significance to the flag. Taken together, the two can symbolize only something incongruous, unchristian, and un-American.