"One Nation Under God"

On July 4, in a thousand hamlets, loyal Americans will march in parades as millions of their fellow citizens watch with pride. The passing of the Stars and Stripes will cause many backbones to stiffen and bring smart salutes from the military as well as the placing of hand over heart by those who pledge again their allegiance to "one nation under God."

Unlike millions of people in North Korea and Iran, our people walk as free men and women across our broad prairies and along our city streets. Unlike the avant garde Communist writers who languish in concentration camps or lie in unmarked graves, our people are able to write freely and to dissent vigorously while the whole weight of government, court, and police protects them in their rights and in their persons. The doors of our churches are open, the Bible is read, and the pulpits are free to sound forth the glories of our God. Church is separated from state and freedom of religion is no fond dream—it's real. Our coins say "In God we trust." (Well, most of them anyway.) Our presidents take their oath of office on the Bible. (Well, most of them anyway.)

(Franklin Pierce was the only president known to use the word "affirm" rather than "swear". Herbert Hoover is often listed to have used "affirm" as well, due to being a Quaker, but a newsreel taken of the ceremony indicates that the words used were "solemnly swear".1 Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, and Richard Nixon swore the oath on two Bibles. John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law.2 Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal on Air Force One. Washington kissed the Bible afterwards,3 and subsequent presidents followed suit, up to and including Harry Truman,4 but Dwight D. Eisenhower broke that tradition by saying his own prayer instead of kissing the Bible)

We still pledge allegiance to a nation "under God." In a spirit of hope and pride we can sing it.

No, God Bless America is not found in the Bible, nor the Psalms; but the concept is there, and there is nothing anti-biblical about using a patriotic service to tell people about Jesus.

New Thoughts:

[Parts are adapted from "Flying the red, white and blue: Does it belong in the sanctuary?", Mary Jacobs, Jun 29, 2007, Associate Editor, United Methodist Reporter]

And there is even some contention that we should not display the flag in church:

Officially, United Methodists are free to follow their conscience on the question of whether to display a flag in the sanctuary. "There is no denominational policy concerning the use of flags, including national flags, in the sanctuary," according to Interpreter magazine.

Many United Methodist churches, however, do sing patriotic hymns or acknowledge the flag's presence, especially during Sunday worship services near holidays such as the Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.

Worship on Scouting Sunday often involves a procession with a U.S. flag, and in some cases, saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ultimately, the argument over the flag's appropriateness in a worship setting boils down to symbolism: What does the flag's presence mean, and what does it say about the congregation's ultimate allegiance?

"Most Americans... understand and believe that you can have flags in the sanctuary and still maintain that God is No. 1."

"Many people will agree that it is proper to display the United States flag in the church sanctuary, because the United States was created on Christian principles."

In the Old Testament, we learn that we were not God's chosen people. God does not play favorites among His people, however the Bible does tell us that God's chosen people are the Jewish race because they were the ONLY ones to obey Him in lieu of other gods. But I believe that all changed with birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. God wanted all of us to know that He loved each one of us so much, that He sacrificed that Perfect Gift. We are all children of God... Red and Yellow, Black and White, we are precious in His Sight. He gives us so many chances to prove our love for Him and be praising, faithful worshipers and followers. We may Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of our country, but that country was formed as One Nation Under God. Without God this country would not be what it is today.

God gives us the opportunities to be a part of His Heavenly Kingdom. God wants us to work and fight for the country we established, but He wants us to work and fight for His Kingdom even more. He has given us this country and all that we have and are to do just that.

Get It?

Got It.


Sharyl Lewis
July 2012

See the insert to the order of worship which accompanied Sharyl's message.

1 Jim Bendat (2012), Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013
2 Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies website, Inauguration of President John Quincy Adams, 1825
3 Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies website, Inauguration of President George Washington, 1789
4 David McCullough (1992), Truman

Lay members' page
OUMC Home Page