Site icon Times & Seasons

Of Flags and Symbols of the Church

The state of Utah is looking into creating a new flag.  I was interested, so looked into best practices for flag making (vexillology) and found a handy guide from the North American Vexillological Association that suggested five basic principles of flag design:

  1. Keep it simple (the flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory)
  2. Use meaningful symbolism (the flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes)
  3. Use 2-3 basic colors (limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set)
  4. No lettering or seals (never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal)
  5. Be distinctive or be related (avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections)[1]

An example of a good flag is New Mexico, with two colors (red and yellow) and very simple (sun symbol) while Utah is a bad example, with a complicated seal on a blue background (just like 14 other states in the United States of America).  I enjoy pondering, and after designing a few ideas for a Utah flag, I’ve been musing on what a flag for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could look like.

Obviously, the most likely path forward would be to just use the official symbol of the Church (the Christus with the arch around it and the cornerstone beneath) and use that as a flag.  The simplified version on the Church’s Facebook page would probably pass muster for the rules of good flag making, as long as it used a solid blue color as the background.  It is somewhat borderline on being simple (particularly if the full official version is being used rather than the simplified version from Facebook), since it might be difficult for a child to draw it from memory, though plenty of other well-known flags have similar levels of complication in their images (think the California flag or the Welsh flag).  It does use meaningful symbolism, as outlined when it was released, including a visualization of the resurrected and living Jesus Christ (emphasis from Russell M. Nelson), a rectangle beneath representing the cornerstone that the Apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians, and an arch to represent the tomb.  It does stick to 2 basic colors (white and blue), though it generally has been used with several shades of blue in the background, which goes beyond that idea.  The official version uses words in the cornerstone block (a no-go for the good flag rules), though the Facebook version drops the words and cornerstone.  It is distinctive as well, clearly Christian but different than other Christian Churches.  So, going with the Facebook version of the symbol on a solid blue background would function as a good flag for the Church.

The official symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Facebook version of the Church’s symbol

Of course, just going with the obvious doesn’t make for a very good blog post, so I wanted to look at other options.  I wanted to work within the parameters outlined by the vexillological society while also using something that also represents the Church.  The major reason given when the official symbol was publicized was to “remind all that this is the Savior’s Church and that all we do as members of His Church centers on Jesus Christ and His gospel.”[2]  Anything that would be used instead of the official symbol for a flag would need to achieve these same goals.

So, what are some symbols that have historically been used with the Church that could be included?  One of the best libraries of symbols in the Church is the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series.  Each president uses a symbol that relates to something they taught or some event from their life and ministry, most of which have at least some meaning to the Church beyond that president.  See the full set below:

Symbols from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series

A few of my favorites that could be used are the following:

The beehive has always been an important symbol in our Church history. … Brigham Young chose the beehive as a symbol to encourage and inspire the cooperative energy necessary among the pioneers to transform the barren desert wasteland surrounding the Great Salt Lake into the fertile valleys we have today. We are the beneficiaries of their collective vision and industry. …

All of this symbolism attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.[3]

So, those are some options from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series.

Another source of inspiration might be symbols from the temples that the Church has built over the course of its history.  Here are some of the symbols that stood out to me while pondering on the idea:

Doors from the Salt Lake City Temple annex, with beehives inside the Seal of Melchizedek

Tree of Life symbol from inside the Kirtland Temple

Handclasp from Salt Lake City Temple

All-seeing eye from Salt Lake City Temple

Many of these have meaningful symbolism that connects to the Church.  Not all of them are meaningful outside of the Church and some have connections more with Freemasonry (handclasp and all-seeing eye) or even paganism (trees).

Looking to connect with a broader Christian symbolism to make it obvious that we are centering everything on Jesus Christ and his gospel, there are a few options to choose from:

The first image of Jesus in a Church publication

The Jesus Fish

A triquetra

Chi-Rho symbol

So, those are a few of the key Christian symbols that could be incorporated into a symbol for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to bring out its Christian nature in a recognizable way.

Now, a flag could bring a few of these symbols together at a time to create something new.  And some of them can be simplified or streamlined.  For example, while the beehive can be used in its traditional form, the idea of a hexagon or group of hexagons to symbolize the honeycomb of a beehive could be used as a frame that doubles as a nice reference to the beehive.  Inside of that frame, other symbols could be used.  For example, you could use three hexagons with symbols to represent the three members of the Godhead, with the all-seeing eye for God the Father, a cross for Jesus the Christ, and the dove for the Holy Spirit:

Zooming in on the Christian symbol, one could just use one hexagon with the cross in it, possibly with rays of light coming out of it to also draw on the sunburst symbolism:

Or, instead of the beehive-hexagon as a frame, a similar symbol could be placed inside the Seal of Melchizedek instead:

Here are what a couple of the flags based on the symbols discussed above could look like:

      This is all highly hypothetical, of course, and with that hypothetical approach, I’d love to hear what other people would use for symbols of the Church.  And, of course, using the actual symbol of the Church, a flag would look like this:



[1] Ted Kaye, “’Good’ Flag, ‘bad’ flag” (North American Vexillological Association, 2006, 2020), chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Opening the Heavens for Help,” CR April 2020,

[3] M. Russell Ballard, “Be Anxiously Engaged,” CR October 2012,

[4] Howard W. Hunter, “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign October 1994,

Exit mobile version