The New York Times is downright giddy about megachurch pastor Gregory Boyd disowning conservative politics, and it's hard not to have sympathy for Boyd's stance as many churches have turned worship services into patriotism rallies:
He said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.
“I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?’ ” he said in an interview.
Patriotic displays are still a mainstay in some evangelical churches. Across town from Mr. Boyd’s church, the sanctuary of North Heights Lutheran Church was draped in bunting on the Sunday before the Fourth of July this year for a “freedom celebration.” Military veterans and flag twirlers paraded into the sanctuary, an enormous American flag rose slowly behind the stage, and a Marine major who had served in Afghanistan preached that the military was spending “your hard-earned money” on good causes.
Much of what he has to say is dead on:
“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”
But then he also falls into the liberal trap of tacit acceptance of modern society's sexual obsession:
Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.
Yes, it's high time that churches stopped acting as patriotism centers. As a preacher friend of mine pointed out, would Paul have cheered on the Roman Empire? At the same time, society's cultural (and sexual) ills cannot be free from critique. It does our country no good if Christian's are silenced.
Boyd has it half-right.