Taylor Cooper of The Brunswick News writes about how Christians might celebrate the Fourth of July while staying faithful to God.
In particular, Cooper talks about the long-debated issue of comparing American values to Christian values and nationalism versus mere patriotism. The idea of Christian nationalism, or a view that the United States is defined exclusively by Christianity is extremely controversial and often seen as incompatible with American values.
The article continues:
There’s nothing wrong with Christians celebrating the Fourth of July, says the Rev. Steve Goyer, interim pastor of St. Simons Presbyterian Church. There are a lot of good things about America to celebrate, within reason.
“Our founding fathers and mothers were getting hammered by the union of church and state in England — the Anglican Church — and the Catholic Church in Spain,” Goyer said.
The founding stock of America was rife with products of the Protestant Reformation — Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists and Presbyterians, among others. It’s unsurprising, then, that the country’s founding documents were heavily influenced by the faith of these people.
That’s obvious in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which states, in part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
“Our first allegiance is to Christ, and then whatever nation we are encamped in we’re called to support, and we can call that patriotism,” Goyer said.
He’s fine with that term, “patriotism,” but it’s important for Christians not to get caught up in nationalism, he said.
“We are in this world, but not of it,” he said. “We are called to support our country unless it is completely unjust.”
Goyer doesn’t think America is completely unjust, and he and his wife always celebrate the Fourth, starting with a reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It’s had some trouble along the way, but the 14th and 19th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act, and others went a long way toward setting the score straight.
“We’re getting there. That’s the vision our country was built on, which goes back to Genesis, God creating us in the image of God,” Goyer said.