On The Idolatry of Patriotism & Illogical Christian Thought

It's no secret to many of you that I'm not a very patriotic fellow. I recently ignited a firestorm of comments on Facebook for saying that it was nice to attend a Church the sunday before Memorial Day where the message did elevate the idol of patriotism and/or preach the cliche' "Memorial Day Sermon" that spent 90% of the time talking about America and then in the end say, "And communion itself is a type of memorial service". People, there is no link there, no matter how hard you to try create one; it is a fictitous link people have created in their minds. The idolatry of patriotism is hardly comparable to communing with the Triune God.

Anyway, the overarching narrative of the Bible does not exclude one people from another. In fact, whenever Israel tried to do that, she always got rebuked! But early on in Genesis, the promise from God to Abraham is that through one of his heritage, all nations would have a way to be united. As the story goes on to show, that way of unity is through Jesus Christ. We would do good to keep this in mind, especially on a day when the cliches are thrown out like candy in a cheesy parade.

One of those sayings I often hear, especially when I state my views on patriotism is: "Well, a bunch of American soldiers died so you could express your view and you're too ungrateful to realize it." Now, such a statement is errant on so many levels. At this point, I should say that all of my grandfathers were war vets and so were many other family members. So, the love of U.S. military runs deep in my family. But just a little logic shows that, no, a bunch of soldiers didn't die and give me the "right" to say what I say. I say what I say by "choice" and I would say it whether or not I was in a country where you can say whatever you want or in a country where expressing your faith in Christ was forbidden. You see, soo many people say things like this and think they are such good people and citizens but really, it's just poor logic and if you're a Christian, I would dare say terrible reasoning from within that worldview. If you're a Christian and you make remarks like the one above, essentially you're saying to others: "If I were in a country where I was persecuted for saying such things, I would say them. I would only say them in a country where war had been waged so I could freely say them."

Clearly, the apostle Paul didn't need to be socially or politically "free" to share his faith. He did it repeatedly on lock-down and in the face of a radically patriotic Roman government. In fact, it was under persecution that Paul and others found the best platform to preach the Gospel. Paul wasn't saying ridiculous slogans like "God bless Rome" or "God bless Israel" but rather, he was saying "God thank you for being with me while I'm in chains because it gives me a chance to promote the Gospel." But as we all know, many Christians in this country would probably drop faith in a heartbeat if physical persecution ever came into the picture.

Another slogan we hear and need to drop on days like these is: "God bless America." I am shocked at how many professing Christians say this so absent-mindedly. From Genesis on, the overarching biblical narrative deals with God's promise to Abraham, the promise that through Abraham's heritage, a way would come that would allow peoples of all nations to unite. Of course, that way as the story says, is Jesus Christ. It is not through military prowess or force, it is not through tanks and missiles, it is not through machine guns and murder, it is not through anger and violence, it is through trust in Christ. To continue to say "God bless America" at the exclusion of all other peoples is simply counter to the entire thrust of salvation history and the Bible! Come on Christians, get your theology straight!

Again, many of my family members have served in the U.S. military. For me, I could never and will never do it. My theology leads me in a different direction, to trying to establish peace through reconciliation and non-violence. But the fact remains, no soldier died to enable me to say what I'm saying because the truth is, I'd say it regardless. I think many Christians don't realize that it sounds like the height of Christian arrogance and ignorance of their own faith story to say "God bless America" which consequently means "...at the exclusion of other countries like Iraq Afghanistan, Iran, etc." Besides, Christianity is starting to flourish in pockets of those countries, so, we need to stop dropping bombs on them and stary praying for God to bless them amongst all people.

All I'm calling for here is some good logic & reasoning. As patriotism / nationalism will remain one of the top idols that Christians in America must face in these days and the ones to come, it is high time to reorient ourselves to the truth and thrust of the biblical narrative to which we belong and to embody the promise given by God to Abraham, a promise which came to fruiton in Christ, a promise which says, "May all peoples be blessed through God's promise, Jesus Christ."


  1. I am greatly comforted by your views. Wonderful post, Michael.

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  3. Yep, its good to distinguish between "we" as Americans, and "we" as Jesus' disciples.

  4. Drew, Steph & Jeff, thanks a lot for the comments & affirmations (the deleted comment was one I wrote but ended up deleting because of a different screen name I was signed in under). Anyway, good to know that there are some people who do not let emotion take over & all reason & logic fly out the window when this subject comes up.