Civil Religion Watch Continued

One of my blog readers, Christopher, added this as a comment to my January 10 “Civil Religion Watch” post. It’s pretty amazing:

The following is from the newsletter of a Presbyterian church in South Carolina regarding their July 4th , 2010 Sunday worship service.

“That morning’s worship service features: (Our) Color Guard’s flag presentation and the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic music. patriotic hymn sing, no sermon but a Reading of the Declaration of Independence, and we will join in prayers for our nation. We ask that all our Community First Responders and active and veteran Military please dress in uniform for this service so we can acknowledge all that you have done and do for us. Additionally , everyone is invited to bring a flag to church (mind the size). You will be asked to wave it during singing, the ushers will give out small flags to those present. So invite all your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to” (church’s name) Celebrates the Flag on The 4th of July.”

Not sure if this is an example of civil religion or the worship of an idol?


Here’s my comment:

I think this qualifies as over-the-top civil religion and idolatry. Replacing the sermon with a reading of the Declaration of Independence is literally unbelievable. I’m not sure what else to say except that this is no longer a Christian worship service.

Please keep these examples coming. People need to be aware of what’s going on in order to work to stop it.

13 Responses to “Civil Religion Watch Continued”

  1. Michael says:

    To a non-American it sounds like a syncretism with American nationalism.

  2. MJG says:

    “Syncretism” might be a bit generous!

  3. Josh Rowley says:

    It’s not Christian worship. I hope it’s not a PC(USA) church.

  4. MJG says:

    I don’t know; maybe Christopher will let us know.

  5. ric booth says:

    Yesterday was Scout Sunday at our church. So after the first couple of songs a young man in his shout uniform went up and led the congregation in the pledge. The flag, complete with a shiny gold eagle on top was placed on the front of the stage. After the pledge, the senior pastor says something out “our” nation. Then it gets weird.

    He introduces today’s guest preacher from Nigeria. I tried to snap a picture of the Nigerian pastor preaching between an American flag and a wooden cross but my phone camera would only capture silhouettes.

  6. Christopher Meyer says:

    Josh,sorry to tell you it is a PCUSA church. The church I serve is in the same Presytery.

  7. Josh Rowley says:

    Ugh. I am increasingly aware that Presbyterians are among the worst civil religion offenders.

  8. MJG says:

    Depressing, to be sure. But don’t be too worried, Josh–the Methodists (my family) are right up there with you.

    On July 4 last year (first Sunday of the month) the altar of our little outdoor chapel, where we have the 8:00 summer service, was adorned with the communion bread and cup; red, white, and blue flowers (I think); and (I know) two little American flags symmetrically displayed. The first hymn, as I recall, was The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    I think, in our case, the pastor was not directly involved.

  9. Josh Rowley says:

    On the Sundays nearest national (and nationalistic) holidays, I’ve gotten to the point where I mention the day in the context of prayer, asking God for the safe and swift return of soldiers in the line of fire to their loved ones (or something similiar)–and that’s it. Without exception, I get at least a couple complaints about my minimalism. Usually, the persons upset are older white men who have served in the military.

    The one national song that I can stomach in worship (although I haven’t used it recently) is “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies.” This song is more about the beauty of America’s land, which God created, than anything else. Also, it shows more humility than most national songs, asking for God’s “grace” (undeserved love) and that God would “mend our flaws.”

  10. K. Rex Butts says:

    I would say this is well beyond any syncretism…just outright worship of a false god.

  11. MJG says:

    Rex: to which “this” do you refer?

  12. K. Rex Butts says:

    I am sorry…”this” was referring to the excerpt the worship announcement from the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina mentioned in the post.

  13. brian says:

    I read the Declaration of Independence in a sermon once, onnly to point out that it encourages rebellion against govts and is ant-biblical on that point.

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