What constitutes being a patriotic citizen of the United States of America? This is a recent inquiry that simply will not leave my brain. Mainly because this is a season of fervor in regard to America and her independence the celebration of such being held on the fourth of July each year.
I shudder every year when this time rolls around, deep into my spine. Moreso than even usual, American churches are singing national hymns such as “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Many throw in the “Star-Spangled Banner” for good measure, as well as the recitation of the American Pledge of Allegiance. All of this is being done in churches on Sunday, amid sermons on how America is the Promised Land, and was founded upon Christian principles.
All of this confuses me so much that it often makes me literally sick to my stomach. Obviously American Christians place a high value on being an American, and a Christian. They perceive themselves as the most patriotic folks that there can be. Therefore my main question is: must you be a Christian to be a patriotic American?
Is patriotism a matter of faith in God? If so, then whose god? Does that mean that atheists cannot be good patriotic citizens? I would argue that atheists are often the best candidates for patriotic fervor, simply because disbelief in a higher power means that their ultimate loyalty is to their nation of origin, and not to a deity or religion. If it is a matter of faith in a deity, is it the Christian god? Does that rule out Jews and Muslims who also claim to worship the God of Abraham?
And if it is a matter of faith in God (the Christian one), then why do so many American Christians equate a lack of pride in America as a sin? Why do they give such honor to the Constitution of the United States, and proclaim that it is inspired by God? (This is exactly what folks are saying when they say that America was founded on Christian principles. They may not realize it, but they are indeed convinced that divine providence had a major part to play in American freedoms). Why do American Christians know the Pledge of Allegiance, but not the Apostle’s Creed? How do they know the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and yet cannot name the Twelve Disciples? How can they read John Locke and Adam Smith, and not have read Irenaeus and Clement?
The Church in America needs your prayers, because it has forgotten that it is not a citizen of the United States – it is the Bride of Christ. Her citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. The songs she sings should be magnifications of the Godhead, and the pledges she should recite are the Psalms. She should honor no graven image, and glory in no death except for the Cross and our Savior who was crucified upon it. Her freedom is bought with a price, but it wasn’t an American whose blood was shed for her – it was a homeless Jewish man who spoke no English, lived in a territory occupied by a ruthless empire, and at one point was a refugee in danger for his life. He lived and died in the region we call the Middle East, and spoke a language very similar to one spoken by those we now deem infidels.