On the Fourth of July, which falls on a Sunday this year, I won’t be attending church. As a Baptist minister who loves weekly communal worship, this is unusual. But my spiritual health requires that I annually skip on the Sunday closest to that national holiday.
In many church hymnals, you’ll find patriotic songs like “America the Beautiful,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and even “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Much like special sections for Christmas and Easter, there’s a whole nationalism section for singing on this patriotic Sunday. In churches across the country, the American flag stands on the chancel (a modern tradition in the U.S. that started to promote the world wars), but it receives special notice during this service. Worship on this Sunday looks different; it is fair to question who and what is actually being praised.