Do Patriotism and Worship Services Mix Well?
I’ve been in churches where the congregation was asked to stand and say the pledge of allegiance during a worship service. I have a strong pride in America. I lived in the Philippines during a very tumultuous time in which our own US servicemen were killed by terrorist attacks. I was there when there were base demonstrations and our daily lives had to be altered because of real threats to us. We had curfews and base restrictions.
I remember when singer Lee Greenwood came to Clark Air Base (Philippines) at a time when we were all emotionally reeling from the recent attacks on our servicemen. When, at the conclusion of his concert, he started singing the words, “I’m Proud to be an American,” there was not a dry eye in the audience.
When I came back to the States, my husband was sent to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield. My husband was defending our country and I was taking care of our 3-yr old and infant. Every single time I saw an American flag, I got tears in my eyes, knowing that my husband was “over there” and seeing first-hand the sacrifices made by our servicemen and their families.
So, obviously, you cannot say that i am unpatriotic. I am proud to be an American. I understand what freedom means.
But the several times I have been in a church service and asked to stand to say the pledge of allegiance, something has stirred within me – some sort of conflict and I never really spent the time to think about what it was.
I ran across this article recently: This is my confession: I struggle with patriotic worship services.
Sunday gatherings of believers are a microcosm of the Kingdom of God. For me, at their best, patriotic services celebrate baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet at the expense of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. At their worst they rehearse selective history, celebrate decisions of a man-made government, and blur the line between the kingdoms of man and the kingdom of God.
Sundays find followers of Jesus gathered celebrating His victory over sin, death, hell and the grave, not American victories at Iwo Jima, Normandy and Bastogne. We gather with the promise of a Prince of Peace whose return will not only render Valley Forge, Gettysburg, New Orleans, Normandy, Guadalcanal, Da Nang and Baghdad impossible; He will make them unneeded.
I posted this article on the SSB Facebook page and here are some of the comments:
I suffered in church every Memorial Day, July 4th and Christmas…
As a music pastor, I ALWAYS dreaded planning the Sunday nearest the 4th of July. HATED it!!
What do you think? Is it okay to mix church and patriotism? Am I being overly sensitive? Is America God’s special nation? Do pastors overstep their bounds when they encourage patriotism?
Happy 4th, everyone. Stay safe! I can’t wait for you all to see Kathi’s husband’s photo in tomorrow’s Sunday gathering. It’s so cool!