Many of us, as American citizens, will enjoy the festivities of the 4th of July. This national celebration of liberty and independence was foreseen by one of the founding fathers, John Adams. Much of what he anticipated for the national holiday came to pass and continues to be observed in communities across the country.
In two previous blog posts about the 4th of July (first one here and second here), I mused about the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Based on what I have witnessed in some church worship services, I drew on a concern expressed well by Richard Lischer. He lobbied for the removal of the American flag from the church chancel because it was a symbol of civil religion. “I patiently explained,” Lischer said, “that I had nothing against patriotism but that it was a short step from ‘God and country’ to ‘God equals country.’”
I now think that there is a more important concern for Christians and churches than the danger of allowing nationalism to invade the sacred space of the church’s worship and practices of faith. Is a time coming when the government will attempt to legislate what are acceptable and unacceptable Christian beliefs and practices? Efforts by social activists would appear to be aiming for this.