Thursday, September 01, 2005


I am a U.S. Army chaplain, have served a tour in Iraq, and proudly wear the uniform of my beloved country. Yet I have never felt comfortable participating in “Patriotic Sunday” services around the Fourth of July.

The mixing of the symbols of God and country always remind me of the frightening photographs of German clergy proudly displaying the swastika in their churches and rendering the Nazi salute during the Third Reich. I have always wanted to avoid even the appearance of such a diabolical marriage of church and state in the United States.During Sunday worship the week before Independence Day, I became convinced that such patriotic displays during the worship hour are nothing less than idolatry, i.e., the praise and adoration of something other than almighty God.

Thank you for having the courage and insight to speak a prophetic word to the evangelical community at a time when our faith and our political persuasions are again being inappropriately commingled.

Scott A. SterlingColumbia, South Carolina (in a letter to Christianity Today Magazine)

This comes from Bishop Will Willimon's most recent blog post, "Patrotic Thoughts". Willimon raises some interesting thoughts on being a Christian first and citizen second as the God of Israel relates to America. It's worth the read.



Zoomdaddy said...

I think special services (not the primary Sunday service) are the appropriate venue for any kind of "patriotic" expressions that might be tied in with worship (for instance a special recognition ceremony for veterans, a commissioning prayer service for some service people about to be deployed). I generally think national holidays should be downplayed or non-existencein churches, generally (our citizenship is in heaven, after all). For example, a friend of mine from seminary, first generation Korean riased in the U.S. is always very uncomfortable with his Korean church's celebration of Korea's liberation from Japan, because it seems to stir up a lot of bad anti-Japanese sentiment. And his church is representative in that they make a day of it, they worship, celebrate Korea's being set free from Japanese occupation, and then have a big luncheon at the church afterwards. It is only relatively recently that a conscience about praying for the people of Japan and having expressions of forgiveness and reconciliation have taken place--and that sporadically.

St.Phransus said...

yes, i am in agreement with what you're saying.

i could see having a special time set aside for special patriotic celebrations and especially to send off/welcome home soldiers.

But i don't see where being patriotic to one's country has to do with being a citizen of the kingdom of god.

thanks for the thoughts,