Christian Worship + Nationalism = ?

Over the last year I have worshipped in 34 different congregations primarily in congregations affiliated with Mainline Protestant denominations (with most of these in United Methodist, Presbyterian - PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, and Episcopal churches).  From my pew or chair in most of the sanctuaries or other sacred spaces where the services were held I could see two flags: an American flag and a Christian flag. Only once, however, did the American flag play an important Read More …

Religion & Self-Identity

Barna recently conducted research into what most influences the self-identity of Americans.  In order, the top three influences are family, country (being American), and religious faith. Religion Matters While religion still ranks ahead of ethnic group, career, state of residence, and city/town of residence, it is a distant third to family and country. While a majority of Americans claim that family and their country are central to their identity, fewer than two out of five Read More …

How Much Patriotism is Too Much?

Matthew Kelley, pastor of Arlington United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN, recently wrote an article about the difficult situation many pastors face on Independence Day weekend regarding just how much celebration of that national holiday is appropriate in worship.   He relates an experience he had while serving as pastor of  a church in a town with a military base. On a regular Lenten Sunday, not near any national holiday, a guest "sang Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American," which Read More …

Viral Misattribution

On Sunday night, an unusual name appeared on my Twitter stream: Osama bin Laden.  Through a number of tweets I learned that the United States military had killed this terrorist and of President Obama's televised address. On Monday morning I found myself paying less attention to social media than I normally do after experiencing several friends who were using uncharacteristically strong language of patriotism and of faith. Later that day, I noticed that a number of friends had posted the same Read More …