When Patriotism Warps the Christian Faith

Bob Hyatt, one of my favorite bloggers, has been featured in an editorial by USA Today.

The title of the article is "Faith shouldn't be red, white and blue."

Patriotism and religion each hold a prominent place in the American story. That’s as it should be. To wed the two, however, is a disservice to patriots and to the faithful...

Bob Hyatt, now pastor of the upstart Evergreen Community in the Portland area, worked on the staff of a local megachurch in the fevered period immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Despite being raised and educated in a strict Christian conservative environment in which the United States was regarded as God's favored nation, Hyatt was aghast to find the sanctuary frequently decked out in red-white-and-blue bunting with a pair of 50-foot American flags. In the Sunday service nearest the Fourth of July, congregants recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang patriotic songs. As the pattern continued through the early months of the Iraq war, Hyatt could hold his tongue no longer. At a pray-for-our-troops rally at the megachurch, he took a turn at the microphone and cited the teachings of Jesus in making the unpopular suggestion that the congregants also pray for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people. He went on to write an Internet article titled, "Profoundly Disturbed on the Fourth of July," which was not well-received at the church and led to his leaving its staff.

Reflecting on those patriotic services, Hyatt wrote: "We had taken a time that belonged to the worship of God and turned it toward the appreciation of a country, a political system, a flag. We said that we were worshiping God through the singing of those patriotic songs, the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and the rest, but in fact we were worshiping America."

This article that Bob wrote should be re-read every year during the first week of July.


1 comment:

Ted Gossard said...

Yes, I would be more than uneasy with that as well.

We shoul thank God for this country, but remember what place it holds in God's scheme of things, our allegiance being to Christ and the kingdom of God.

Maybe I go too much the other way as I see so many who seem to make this sort of patriotism a part of what it means to be a Christian, or more of one (do they really believe that?). I need to be careful, because I was once a little more on that side myself.