Many Protestant pastors in the U.S. will incorporate patriotic elements in their church’s worship services during the July 4 weekend, according to a LifeWay Research report published June 28.
A majority (56%) of the 1,000 respondents to the LifeWay survey agreed that “it’s important to incorporate patriotic elements into worship services the week of July 4th,” while 42% disagreed and 2% were not sure.
When LifeWay polled this topic in 2016, 61% agreed, 37% disagreed and 2% were unsure.
When presented with the statement, “Our congregation’s love for America sometimes seems greater than their love for God,” 58% disagreed (up from 45% in 2016), 38% agreed (down from 53%) and 3% were not sure (up from 2%).
The survey also asked what changes would be made in the worship service during the July 4 weekend, with only 15% of respondents saying their services would be “no different than other weeks.”
A majority of pastors said they would “recognize those with family currently serving in the armed forces” (59%), “include special music honoring America” (58%), “recognize living veterans” (56%) and “recognize families who have lost loved ones in service to our country” (54%).
Thirty percent of respondents plan to “include other special ceremonies to honor America” and 14% didn’t offer specifics but noted that they would “make other changes to the service.”
Most (67%) of Protestant pastors surveyed said “it is appropriate to display the American flag in worship services throughout the year” (down from 74% in 2016), with 28% saying it is not appropriate (up from 22%) and 5% unsure (up from 4%).
“Some denominations offer specific guidance regarding displaying the American flag, but most congregations decide on their own whether it’s present,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a press release announcing the findings. “In the last six years, many pastors’ concerns about patriotic idolatry in their congregations have faded. Like any idol, the temptation to prioritize, worship or depend on our nation over God can resurface at any time.”
The full report is available here. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.