Having lived my life on two sides of the same [Christian] track I have seen a lot of different things, especially when it comes to views of this country. Growing up in a historic African American context I heard much about the United States but not much around National holidays and an unintentional differentiation between. Now that I am in a mostly Caucasian context in the Midwest there is a major ramping up towards National holidays and an unintended conflation of church and state. A great example of this comes around every 4th of July. I have to admit I become uncomfortable in both context for the lack of balance and [right] understanding of the day. My wife and I have had these discussions for years and they basically come to the conclusion that the differences in our culture backgrounds let us view it differently. I have wondered for years how to balance this tension and recently I read an article that helped me better understand my own inner angst. In an article written by Trevin Wax 4 reasons “Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy In A Patriotic Church Service” and offers many ways forward. Here are his reasons (which resonate so much with me):
1. Extreme Experiences in the Past
Part of the unease may come from experiencing a sloppy melding of “church” and “nation” in the past…
2. Decreasing Patriotism among Millennials
Part of the unease may be rooted in a decrease in patriotism…
3. Shifting Cultural Currents
Younger Evangelicals have a different approach to political engagement, and speaking within the context of generational shifts.
“Older Southern Baptists are more likely to see the U.S. as Israel. Younger Southern Baptists are more likely to see the U.S. as Babylon.”
4. Failure to Fully Appreciate Time and Place
Some younger evangelicals see any patriotic expression as a compromise with worldly power. Their approach is to take the flag out of the sanctuary, never sing a patriotic song, and never mention a patriotic holiday.
I know that I am not alone on this (or maybe I am) but I would love to know your thoughts on the church and patriotism. Does Trevin get this wrong? Is there something else we can do? How do we balance this out?