As I grow older, every 4th of July causes me to wrestle with something…original intent. The founding fathers desired to have a separation between church and state because when they looked back on history they saw the corruption that took place when churches influenced politics or when politics enforced rules upon churches. The founding fathers saw this all throughout history and they knew that the two could not be mixed.
Yes, the majority of the founding fathers were Christians. Yes, the foundation of this country is based upon many Christian principles. However, as stated in the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Thus no laws were to be established that promoted or prohibited a religion. As a religious person, a Christian, I am grateful for this mature intellectualism.
Over the past century a word has increasingly taken a foothold in American society, patriotism or sometimes called nationalism. It has been watered and fertilized by the numerous wars America participated in. It’s been used to strike fear into people’s heart and to question their allegiances. We’ve held witch-hunts to find unpatriotic Americans holding different views. But every National Holiday, I can’t help but wonder what the church’s role is. Should it do nothing…or should it go all out highlighting the holiday?
Acknowledging something and celebrating it are two entirely different things. I had a friend send me photos of a church’s vacation bible school curriculum called “Freedom” in every photo was the good ole red, white and blue. Not one of the photos had a picture of the cross. I was heart broken by the ignorance displayed in these photos as they were mixing water and oil and coming up with nothing more than tasteless vinaigrette.
Should religious organizations celebrate the 4th of July within their sanctuaries? No. Jesus for President is a ridiculous concept because it shows our complete lack of scriptural understanding. When you read through the gospels, the Jewish people thought that Jesus had come back to reclaim and restore the Jewish nation. That’s what Palm Sunday was all about. They thought He was there to restore the throne of David and bring back the good ole days. Which He did do, its just all a matter of how you look at it. He wasn’t there for a mediocre earthly physical throne…but a heavenly spiritual one.
I write this not as an ungrateful unpatriotic Christian American (making sure to make the distinction is not American Christian). I am grateful for the lives that have been lost, for the freedoms I have. But I believe we also need to be protecting the original intent of the founding fathers. Protecting our churches and our government from corrupting one another is a freedom we need to protect on the battlefield and off. I hope you enjoyed a patriotic 4th of July in civic parks, in public spaces, or in your back yard, but please leave it there. This Sunday, bring your Bible to church and not your flag. For further reading, check out Erwin Lutzer’s “Hitler’s Cross” http://tinyurl.com/722sb84