Laurence M. Vance
May 30, 2011
The Sunday before Memorial Day is not one of my favorites. The “patriotic” things that go on in churches in celebration or acknowledgment of Memorial Day are downright sickening.
Churches encourage their veterans to wear their military uniforms. Special recognition is given to those who “served.” Prayers are offered on behalf of the troops, not that they would cease fighting foreign wars, but for God to keep them out of harm’s way and protect them. Mention is made of the troops defending our freedoms.
Churches decorate their grounds and the inside of their buildings with U.S. flags. Sometimes it is a few large flags hanging from the ceiling or adorning the walls. Sometimes it is many small flags stuck in the ground near the church entrance. Sometimes it is both. Some congregations are asked to recite the pledge of allegiance.
Churches sing hymns of worship to the state instead of hymns of worship about the person of Christ and his work. Songs like “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” “America the Beautiful,” “We Salute You, Land of Liberty,” and “This Is My Country.” Some churches go even farther and sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” or “God Bless America.” Too many churches sing the blasphemous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
I know these practices are widespread because of the scores of people that have e-mailed me in disgust about what occurred in their churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
In most cases it is not even necessary to visit a church on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day to know what goes on inside. Just look at the sign outside of the church. Instead of a verse of Scripture or an announcement of an upcoming event, you are more likely to see some patriotic slogan, often with a Christian theme.
I have personally seen two signs this year that I find particularly offensive, not only to my Christian faith, but to reality:
Pray for the Troops,
God be with them.
The American soldier and Jesus Christ,
one gives his life for your freedom,
the other for your soul.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Yes, we should pray for the troops. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” But what should we pray? That God would bless the troops while they injure, maim, kill, and destroy property where they have no business being in the first place? That God would be with them while they wage unjust and immoral foreign wars? Since when does wearing a military uniform excuse killing someone you don’t know in his own territory that was no threat to any American until the U.S. military invaded and occupied his country? How about instead praying that the troops come home where they belong or that Christian families stop supplying cannon fodder to the military?
That Christ gave his life for our souls is indisputable, but do American soldiers give their lives for our freedoms? You know, the freedoms we have steadily lost since the troops starting defending our freedoms after 9/11? Has there been in American history any foreign war, military action, CIA covert action, or intervention of any kind in any country that was for the purpose of defending our freedoms mentioned in the Bill of Rights? Of course not. Not one Iraqi or Afghan killed by U.S. forces was ever a threat to our freedoms. The troops don’t defend our freedoms, and neither do they fight “over there” so we don’t have to fight “over here.” And I can’t think of anything more blasphemous than mentioning Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace in the same breath as a U.S. soldier who unjustly bombs, maims, kills, and then dies in vain and for a lie.
It is time for Christians to slay the golden calf of the military. Christians should stop joining the military. They should stop encouraging their young men to enlist. They should stop being military chaplains and medics. American churches must be demilitarized.
It is a terrible blight on evangelical Christianity that our churches have sent more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries. If Christians are so concerned about the threat of Islamofascism, then what better way to confront it than with the Gospel of Christ?
Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn’t, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his website.