Does American Patriotism Have a Place in Worship Services?

"I love the American flag. I love the Fourth of July. I even still love that cheesy Lee Greenwood song 'God Bless the USA.' I just don’t think celebrations of the American nation have a place in the embassy of the kingdom of God." - TGC

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TylerR's picture

Editor

No.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

It seems that there is a difference between praying for and submitting to lawful authority, and putting lawful authority on a pedestal to the point of near (if not actual) idolatry.  I love the principles of the Constitution; I hate the "Pledge of Allegiance" and am baffled as to why it is recited in AWANA and such.  I love my country; I hate the pattern of using every national holiday as an occasion of patriotic excess, especially Memorial Day (a memorial, ahem, for the dead) and Armistice Day (rejoicing at the end of the most brutal war known to that date).  Flag Day?  Are you serious?

(and yes, I know November 11 is now called Veteran's Day, but I personally favor the original use)

Really, watching some of the patriotic excess in churches, a visitor from outside the country ought to be excused if he asked "don't you guys know we serve a Savior?".

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mostly agree with Bert. (Trying not to make a habit of that ;-))

There's a saying that leaders should be judged by what came before them, not by what came after. Reality isn't that simple, but it's not a bad starting point. What I did as a pastor was move the flags off the platform, though they stayed in the auditorium. The only day in the year that we sang anything "patriotic" was July 4 weekend, and I worked hard to keep it down to maybe two songs and only verses that had a pretty strong focus on God.

Why? We call it a worship service... and we should. So then, Who are we worshiping? It should be all about Him. I'm pointing out the obvious, but it maybe needs pointing out.

So, take or leave the "kingdom embassy" analogy in the TGC post. It's still supposed to be a God-centered event. I think it can be "God centered in relation to our nation." That's where I tried to go with the preaching. But this can be hard to execute. I'm sure some would like to have seen more metaphorical flag waving on those days. I never got any feedback on that though, that I recall. Maybe a hint or two; a gentle nudge.

I guess on Memorial Day weekend, I attempted something thematic also, but not "patriotic," per se. There are lots of themes that tie into Memorial Day that also tie into great, God-focused biblical truth:The brevity of human life, why we have war and when & how wars will cease, sacrifice, courage, the difference even ordinary sinners can make because of common grace... on it goes.

Revolution, rebellion, injustice, freedom, power, greed and other themes worked well on July 4 weekends... as well as any kind of digging into where we are as a culture and how we got here.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.