Holidays (Other)

The Mailbag: Patriotism in Church

Originally published July 2, 2018

Every year on the Sunday closest to the 4th of July, our worship service turns very patriotic. All of the hymns and worship songs are replaced with patriotic songs like God Bless America, America the Beautiful, and the National Anthem. The choir and whoever is singing a solo that day sings a patriotic song. A color guard marches in with the American flag and we say the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes the sermon is even on a patriotic topic. It makes me uncomfortable because I think the worship service should focus on God, not America. What do you think?

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love the fireworks and picnics, the bands, and watching my favorite musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

I’m as red, white, and blue, rah rah America as the next guy, but there’s a time and a place for all that, and the Sunday morning worship hour isn’t it. You’re correct. The worship service is exactly that: worship and service. And who are Christians supposed to worship and serve when we go to church? God.

We are to sing to, and about, God. The pastor is to preach the Word of God. We pledge our allegiance in prayer, worship, and confession to God. Our thoughts are to be focused on God. Every element of the worship service – songs, symbols, readings, offerings, prayer, praise, everything – is to draw our attention to God. He is the only One worthy of our worship.

Patriotic songs, the Pledge, and all of those other things can take the focus off God and put it on something lesser. Sometimes God gets pushed aside in favor of what we want to focus on. That’s a very man-centered attitude in the very place and time when everything is supposed to be centered on God.

And really, if you think about the main reason America was founded – freedom of worship – what better way is there to honor our forefathers and celebrate the gift of freedom God has given us than to exercise our First Amendment right to worship God? Certainly, we could use the 4th of July as a reminder to take some time in corporate prayer to express gratitude to God for our country and our liberties and to pray for our country. Scripture tells us to present our requests to God with thanksgiving. We could also dedicate some time to praying for our governmental officials as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 instructs us to do. There’s a biblical, worshipful way to be thankful for the freedoms God has blessed us with and intercede for our country and our governing authorities. And it shouldn’t be limited to one Sunday a year.

But when it comes to patriotic hoopla, we can set aside another time for that and still celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If your church family wants to celebrate America’s birthday together, that’s great! Have a church-wide cookout on the 4th. Schedule an Independence Day patriotic sing-along or choir pageant. Meet up and head out to the county fireworks show together. Fellowship! Have fun!

But when it’s time to worship, let’s make sure we’re reserving that time for worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It’s fine to love America, but let’s demonstrate that we love Christ more by not letting anything take His place in His church.

photo source

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

5 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Patriotism in Church”

  1. What some (most?) churches do on Mother’s Day and to a lesser degree on Father’s Day is equally out of place in the church.


      1. To clarify, I meant that most make a much bigger deal out of Mother’s Day than Father’s Day, but in both cases many churches devote whole Sundays to dancing on a string for a secular holiday that has nothing to do with the Gospel or the faith that was once for all given to the Saints.

        I think these are just examples of how much of what churches are doing today is a bad impression of secular culture, and is focused on entertainment and excitement rather than on the cross of Christ.


  2. While I agree with some of this, I disagree with most. I think we can recognize our holidays in our church as long as we are also
    Recognizing (and preaching) God. By that, I mean that our church has patriotic Sunday’s. We recognize our veterans and our country’s birthday….but America isn’t the sole focus. God is. How our nation was founded on the Bible. How God has blessed our land. Our sole focus is never the holiday but how God has given us the blessing of whatever the holiday is. We recognize mothers and fathers…through the lens of God and the Bible. I think you can ABSOLUTLEY have patriotism in church but it shouldn’t be the sole focus or the main event. The same with most other holidays that churches choose to recognize. Our pastor is a God fearing, God honoring man and he preached the word….without reservation. Even on holiday Sundays, his sermons are about/ point to God and not the actual holiday.


    1. Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with patriotic activities, music, etc., (or honoring mothers on Mother’s Day) just not during the worship service. That time is reserved for the worship of God alone. He shouldn’t have to share our attention and affection in His house, on His day, during the time that should be set aside for Him. One or two hours a week solely focused on Him? I don’t think He’s asking too much.


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