Five years ago I was in Florida on a pulpit exchange at this time of year and had to conduct a ‘4th of July’ service. On my blog I wrote
This has been the most difficult Sunday so far, being the day when the church plays its part in Independence Day celebrations. My plan had been essentially to ignore it, but the court ruling about the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ rather scuppered my scheme. I felt I would have been failing in my duty if I had not addressed the issue as best I could. What I said amounted to a question: If you believe the US is a nation “under God”, as the “Pledge of Allegiance” says, what do you think that means? Some commentators have claimed that the words carry no religious content, but if that’s true then it really isn’t worth getting worked up about. I tried to suggest that the words of the pledge are only of significance if they are a pledge for the national life to be lived in such a way as to reflect the grace and compassion of God. I’m not sure how it was received - I know that a passing remark about gun control and the 2nd Amendment raised some eyebrows - but I did what I felt I could.I’m really not comfortable singing the National Anthem in church. It felt no easier here than it does on the (very) rare occasions that it happens at home.
Nothing that has happened since then convinces me that patriotism, however piously it may be expressed, and worship should be mixed.