Churches Should NOT Celebrate Independence Day

I love America.

I really do. I am proud to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. I have been to a number of other countries and in my humble opinion, none compare to the United States of America. I also see no problem with being a Christian and having a healthy sense of national pride.

But there is a big problem when the two get intertwined.

As Christians, we believe that we live in two overlapping realities at once- the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. Our aim is to see God’s Kingdom penetrate the Kingdom of Man through acts of love, justice, mercy, and grace.

Our primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God and that Kingdom includes every nation, tribe, ethnicity, faith, creed, color, and tongue. In the Kingdom of God, all of our “tribal distinctives” fall to the wayside. As the Apostle Paul so clearly points out in his letter to the church at Ephesus, in Christ there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, American or Australian, black or white, gay or straight, blue collar or white collar, poor or rich…. but all are one in Jesus. That doesn’t mean we loose those unique defining factors that make us who we are, but those identities become much less central to us. Our true self is rooted in our identity as partakers in the Divine Nature, being united with Jesus Christ. Our common unity and bond with one another is found in the love of God and the reality that we are all his Children created in his image.

American Christians, however, often seem to get this wrong. Instead of upholding the unity and commonality of all people as children of God, we intermingle the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of America and soon blur them so closely together that we cannot distinguish one from the other- even though they are fundamentally different. We begin to speak of America as being “God’s Country” and begin to use religious language to describe our devotion and commitment to our nation. Out national patriotism then becomes a part of our worship of God. When this happens, we get mixed-images like these:

Now, if you don’t see what’s wrong with these pictures, you may have had your vision of the Kingdoms blurred.

The Church of Jesus Christ has no allegiance to any nation. Not America, Not England, Not Rome, Not Israel. No one. We are a body of people united in common faith to see the world transformed by the Gospel. However, when we as the Church allow national patriotism to enter our churches, we severely compromise the beauty and mission of Christ. We are not defined by our nationality. We are not a national entity. We are not run by the government (and most churches that celebrate Independence Day, by the way, are the ones that complain and fear government invading their churches).

And no, God does not have a special love for America.

Our hope does not rest in our freedom as Americans. Our mission is not to “bring American back to God”. America has never been “God’s Country”. We’re not a Christian nation. We were not founded upon Christianity. And the Church of Jesus Christ should have absolutely nothing to do with patriotism, nationalism, or militarism. And yet, this weekend, thousands of churches are going to be filled with people singing “God Bless America” and waving American Flags. There will be sermons preached about how America is “God’s country” and how we are called to defend our nation against the attacks of the anti-Christ homosexual agenda.

None of this is Christianity.

It’s a false religion that is formed when you mix Christianity and Patriotism. It’s essentially the religion of ancient Rome where the Caesar (or King) would be honored as a god. Instead of a single leader, in America, we honor our nation as a god. But America isn’t what we’re to be defending as Christ followers. We’re not called celebrate our nation. Instead, we are called to cast aside our national affiliations and recognize we are truly citizens of one nation under Godthe Body of Christ, which is made up of every nation in on the planet.

When local churches celebrate the Independence Day they are treading in a very unchristian and idolatrous territory. I am not saying that local churches shouldn’t pray for our nation or even offer a word of thanks to God to live in our great country. Of course we should. The problem arises when we bring out the flags and play the national anthem in the House of Prayer for All Nations. It is at that point that the church is engaging in something very contrary to the Gospel of Jesus.

For in the person of Jesus, a new Kingdom has come, a new nation has been born, and new life has burst forth. In Christ, all of our identifying labels fade to the background as we embrace our new identity rooted in Jesus himself. It is that identity- child of God- that unites every person on the planet. It is that identity that has the power to overcome our deepest prejudices. It is THAT identity we should be celebrating this Sunday. Come to think of it, that’s what the Church should be celebrating every Sunday.

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.

John 18:36 NLT

Revised and Reposted from article written for IMPACT Magazine

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  • Frank2918

    Did everyone hear the Pharisee?

    • Brandan Robertson

      Frank- would you be willing to reveal your identity? I’d love to know you as a person and not as a disemodied string of comments.

      Email me-

  • Dr Mike

    Frank: Interesting comment. If you are saying that Brandan is a Pharisee because he is a separatist – separated from those things that are sinful – then it is a nice complement. Jesus certainly railed against the Pharisees because of their practices, but he really didn’t differ from them all that much when it came to doctrinal matters. The Pharisees carried on the tradition of the Hasidim: they opposed Hellenism as unbiblical. They did not believe that drinking the kool-aid of the culture in which they found themselves to be consistent with biblical living.

    If, however, you mean “Pharisee” as derogatory, then you need to brush up on the interregnum. It would have been accurate to label him a zealot, perhaps, since they were violently opposed to secular culture. They are credited with having incited the war which led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

    Or maybe you use the word “Pharisee” as others use the word “Nazi”: when there is no substantive argument available, an ad hominem attack has to do. Sadly, it doesn’t constitute and argument, just an insult.

    Brandan: Good article. It is in keeping with Ross Douthat’s chapter on American nationalism in his book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. Good read if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.

    • Frank2918

      I used the word properly and those not blinded see it.

    • Yonah

      With respect to the NT’s treatment of Pharisees, it is first necessary to observe the polyphonic array of the allusions. Some are casual and thus accepting of Pharisaic culture by default. Others are clearly polemical reflecting the early divisions between mainstream Jews and the early Church. Historical critical tools need to be utilized to separate which is which and to arrive at a mapping of the probable authentic texts/oral history which preceded the received text. That there was memory of Jesus criticizing some Pharisaic leadership should not surprise. It would be no different from leftist Democrats wailing on “The Democrats” as they contend with center or blue dog Democrat leadership within the party.

      In addition to other things, Jesus was of the Pharisaic religious/theological culture of his day.

  • DC Rambler

    First time reader..I think that we can see it in our roots if we look back at people like President Andrew Jackson, a devout Christian, who besides being a slaveholder was a famous Indian killer and when he signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and with the Trail of Tears he ushered in the notion of Manifest Destiny, God’s divine blessing for western expansion. This was an easy call for him as the Native Americans were heathens and were not worthy of their land or God’s blessings. Peace

  • GGN

    Brandon correctly references Jesus establishment of His kingdom or rule in the life of His followers. However, Paul’s work in Romans 13 also establishes human governments role in His sovereign will. Until Jesus consummates His kingdom on this earth, I disagree with his broad brush strokes regarding American patriotism. I’ve worked in countries with governments ruled by tyrants for 20 years. Military juntas, Communism, terrorism etc. While I celebrate your right and freedom of free speech, I also celebrate the fact that God worked through flawed and sinful humans to establish a government where you can exercise your free rights. If every American embraced your view of God, Church and the world, our children and grandchildren will not have the freedoms we now celebrate. God bless America!

  • nate thomas

    At this point you might as well take your logic to its rightful conclusion. If you are not able to celebrate living in a free country where God is allowed to be worshiped without fear of death or other horrible conclusions but instead look at it as a ‘golden calf’, then you also need to promote not celebrating family birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc. All take away from worship of our heavenly kingdom as you say.

    I get your end goal is to recognize that you are not of this world, however I would remind you of the story of Daniel who was taken from his home, and put into world that was not his. He stayed true to his faith, but still participated in many of the other worldly customs. If you personally believe that celebrating freedom is taking away from your own faith, I would ask you to truly question your foundation of your faith. God has placed you in a country in which you are free to say these things and to worship freely. Perhaps today could be a day in which you proclaim how grateful you are to God to live in a free country, instead of claiming that the joy of living here and the celebration of the birth of this nation is sacrilege.

    • Andy Miller

      Amen when people no longer defend freedom the none will have it!

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  • Yonah

    It really doesn’t matter that religious people make these intellectual church state separation statements. It doesn’t matter that religious people make qualified “pride” statements about their country of residence.

    With respect to the United States, let the 5th of July drop the sentimentalism or pride for the pressing question: Is the United States functioning as a viable constructive political entity or is it not only declining but becoming the source of a global political breakdown?

    There are currently 51 million refugees on the planet, half of them children. That is more refugees than at the height of WWII. “Land of the free”? Who is free, and who is not free…and why?

    The U.S. broke Iraq and the fragile Middle East system such as it was…created a far worse mess…and now wants to go back to isolationism. A great share of the 51 million refugees are of the Middle East mess.

  • Denniswingo

    By the logic of this article we should not root for our favorite football team either. As for casting aside all national affiliations, Jesus and Paul both said to “Render Unto Caesar”.

    The bigger issue is that I would ask whether or not this writer supports the welfare state, which is a direct support of the agenda of the anti-christ. Whenever you support the state providing welfare, instead of promoting the conditions whereby people can help themselves or rely on the Church, you are directly supporting the Anti-Christ, which by definition means “substitute deliverer”.

  • revangiemn

    Thank you for writing this, Brendan. I could not agree more. The property of the church that my family attends was lined with American flags yesterday, and all of the music was about America. It nauseated me. The saving grace is that my pastor said nothing about July 4th, and only mentioned celebrating freedom once, and still within the context that God is at the center of all things.