Last year the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, Ohio, became a regular stop for journalists covering trends in Christian right politics. In 2004 its pastor, Russell Johnson, helped organize a campaign for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and succeeded in having it put on the ballot for the November elections.
The following year, Johnson launched the Ohio Restoration Project with the goal of recruiting two thousand "patriot pastors" to register three hundred new voters each and bring them to the polls for "values candidates" in 2006 and beyond.
Johnson's meetings and rallies began with a chorus singing hymns while images of the American flag, the Statue of Liberty, and American troops in combat moved across huge video screens overhead.
That sounded familiar to me. It's awfully reminiscent of this scene here, as described by Rev. Gregory Boyd in a NY Times article (Boyd is also discussed in Fitzgerald's piece):
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.
Now, contrast that approach to the one put forth here by a Christian blogger (via Crooked Timber):
So here's the question: is it wrong for Christians to be patriotic? By patriotism I mean "love of country" or "devotion to country." Love and devotion in themselves are not wrong, but they can be if they are misdirected. I firmly believe that patriotism, in it's usual sense, is wrong for Christians. There are several reasons for this, the first being that we should serve no one and no thing before God. If our love of country trumps our love of God, then we are completely missing the mark in our relationship with Him. He (rightly) demands that we place our identity and all of our loyalties in Him and Him alone. 'No other God before me' wasn't a joke. If our country is our god, then we are in trouble.
Interesting. I've always thought that images of a soldiers and machines of war did not comport with images of the cross, but that's just my non-Christian opinion. I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of others on this issue (I'm looking at you Jedi4375.)