It started when Rit Varriale, a pastor at the Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby North Carolina, flew the Christian flag above the American flag. Now there’s an online campaign, and never several churches are following.
“Our typical flag etiquette is to have the American flag above the Christian flag. But when you stop and think about it, it should be our commitment to God first, then our commitment to country,” – Rit Varriale
“Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.” Romans 13:1-2
“the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.” – US Flag Code
Despite the bible specifically forbidding this type of activity, the pastor has also started a movement called God Before Government. The bible however, would disagree with this. Romans Chapter 13 specifically tells you that all governments are put in place by God for a reason and that you are to obey your government and pay your taxes.
Obeying your government means respecting the ethics code on the American flag. The pastor is quoted as knowing it was wrong, yet he does it anyway. According to the US flag code, you are not supposed to flag a religious flag above the American flag unless you are a Navy Chaplin under specific conditions.
Gods Before Government is a terrible idea if you think about it. One of the main things this movement will accomplish is dividing a group that is already divided enough. People are divided on this issue even though both the bible and flag code discourage this type of activity. When I asked people who identify as Christians about this locally, the response was split down the middle.
This is considered controversial which is why it gets so much attention. Often times people use controversial tactics to gain attention. Bringing this type of attention to Christianity is doing a disservice to it. It is associating Christianity with the flag disrespect crowd and it is only going to encourage more hatred for religion.
Another problem with this is that the bible tells you that you can’t selectively pick which parts of it you want to follow and which parts you don’t. The bible does tell you that you have to obey the “law of the land” and submit to governments, because God put them there.
Then you have the fact that not 100% of the US Army identifies as Christian. You have to consider that there are people who fought for that flag who would be offended by seeing you raise your religions flag above the flag they gave their all for.
I don’t know what the true intention of this Gods Before Government is, but I know what the result will be, and it’s not the result they are hoping for.