I ran across this article at Ginkworld on patriotism and the Church. I resonate deeply with much, if not all of what Hyatt [the author] said in the article. His last statement expresses my sentiments:
So, next Fourth of July, go ahead and light off some fireworks, thank God for the freedoms you have, enjoy a nice parade or picnic but maybe leave the Star-Spangled Banner out of the worship set, okay?
I tend to almost be anti-patriotic, and that is something I need to be working on [a bit – many things come before that]. I am grateful that we have the freedom to worship God here as many do not in the world. And I am grateful for the many opportunities I’ve been given, because of living in America. But…let’s keep the Star-Spangled Banner out of worship…let’s not do the Pledge of Allegiance [let alone the ridiculously cheezy “Christian Pledge of Allegiance” we’ve done at my church before]. Let’s not sing “And I’m Proud to Be an American” in church. Many of these feelings may flow directly from the Mennonite roots on my mom’s side. Patriotic things, flags, processionals, Battle Hymns of the Republic really have no place in a worship context.
This reminds me of something I always wanted to do in our church – but I know it would not go over well with my pastor. I remember reading something a few months ago which described this test you could do: one Sunday take the Christian flag out of the sanctuary, and the following week, put the Christian flag back and take the American flag out. At least here in southern/rural/conservative/Republican Idaho, you’d probably have more comments on the fact that the beloved American flag was gone.
Anyone been to a Michael W. Smith concert recently? His new “signature move” (which I saw both at his “worship” concert in Boise (along with Third Day) and at Creation – and I heard he did it at the Nazarene Youth Congress in Houston) is to run backstage, come out with a huge American flag, wave it around, do the pledge of allegiance and begin singing the national anthem. He then goes into a few other patriotic songs. At a worship event. And the crowd in Boise got the LOUDEST it ever got throughout the entire evening when he brought the flag out. At Creation – there were tons of Canadians. They started to sing O Canada – he couldn’t shut them up. I thought it was great. At the Nazarene Youth Congress…my goodness – it’s an international event! Come on Smitty.
I had relatives on my dad’s side who were in the Air Force and I don’t want to take lightly the price that was paid for our freedom, but I think we need to reevaluate why we focus on certain aspects of our patriotism in the Church. I think that part of a pastor’s job is to call into question things that people think and to try to help people work through issues, questions, etc. Patriotism within the church and the context of worship is definitely one thing that needs to be called into question.