Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cross and Crescent on Flags

Religion plays a major role in defining a culture. It should be no surprise then that symbols of religion are commonly placed on countries flags. Just looking at the cross and crescent (no statements of faith like Saudi Arabia's flag) the two largest monotheistic faiths are represented 30 (18 for the cross and 12 for the crescent) times and of course there is Israel showing the Jewish Star of David. Here's a list:

Christian Cross Muslim Crescent
Australia Algeria
Denmark Azerbaijan
Dominica Comoros
Dominican Republic Malaysia
Fiji Maldives
Finland Mauritania
Georgia Pakistan
Greece Tunisia
Iceland Turkey
Jamaica Turkmenistan
Malta Uzbekistan
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Vatican City

An interesting fact on the cross is most of the countries with it are Protestant. This is mainly due to nationalistic and anti-clerical rebellions which occurred in Catholic Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries which deposed the Church-allied monarchs. The most Catholic of countries, Vatican City, only has the cross on top of the Papal tiara.

Also, Singapore’s crescent is not Islamic but was placed there as a compromise between the Muslim population and the ethnic Chinese.


Adrian said...

The UK should count as 3! Union Jack, England (cross of St. George) and Northern Ireland (cross of St. George with little doohickey on it).

Catholicgauze said...

"Doohickey" the best technical term, ever!

Wales must hate that flag, even the Northern Irish get their own cross but Wales doesn't

Adrian said...

Wales has a freaking dragon. I would take a dragon over a cross any day.

Catholicgauze said...

Wales: We have a dragon!

England: Oh yeah? Well, we're going to put the Cross of St. George the Dragon killer on our flag!

Anonymous said...

What about Papua New Guinea - it has the Southern Cross - surely chosen at least partly for religious reasons.

Also interesting that the Crescent Moon was originally a Christian symbol of the Eastern Roman ("Byzantine") Empire, later adopted by the Ottoman Empire which conquered it. It later came to be seen as a symbol of Islam and was extended to countries which had been part of the Ottoman Empire and much later to other Moslem countries like Malaysia.

Catholicgauze said...

I did not count astronomy because it first represents the stars and not religion (New Zealand and Australia got on the list because of the Union Jack)

The Crescent Moon on the other hand has a very long history. Its history goes even beyond Christianity. But you are right in the sense that it was adopted for Christianity and only later by the Muslim Turks.