Ep. 20 - Is Patriotism Idolatry?

Are Americans taking patriotism too far? In this episode, I touch on the topic of the political climate in United States today, and the division it has caused amongst people, including Christians. Is it truly God bless America, or God help America? Tune in to find out!

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Click on the image to listen on iTunes!

Intro

What is going on everyone! This is The Message with yours truly, Angel. Welcome everyone to Episode 20 - Is Patriotism Idolatry? In this episode we’re going to go into yet another controversial topic, which is politics. We’re going to define what idolatry is, talk about the political climate we’re in today and how it's been unfortunately, dividing up the church, my personal thoughts on everything, and of course the most important question, are people idolizing this country?

So if you’re tuning in right now, thank you so much first off! I hope you’re doing well and if not, just remember that there is a living God who has a plan for your life and wants you to trust Him. So anyways October was a crazy month, but in a good way. Episode 19 - Should Halloween Be Celebrated? has reached so many parts of the world and I’m incredibly humbled that we have folks in Sweden, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, Denmark, India, Singapore, Poland, Mali, Turkey, and Malta tuning! Sorry for the long list but I can’t help but acknowledge what a huge blessing it is to know The Message is reaching so many different countries across the globe. I have no clue how it’s getting there, but then I remember what

Genesis 39:3 says, 

Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.

This reminds me that because I’m really doing this podcast to spread The kingdom, that the Lord is allowing this podcast to prosper and continue growing month after month. I’m just super grateful and humbled that my podcast continues to reach countries I have yet to visit, and it’s exciting to know that this means more people are being exposed to the gospel which is amazing. I even recently had someone tell me that they started going to church again, and my podcast had a big influence on the way they perceived the Christian faith. I was incredibly honored and to be honest, what bigger accomplishment in life is there than helping someone come back home?

What I love about the church is how it brings people together. You go to church and while yes, you'll find some people being fake, you'll also be sure to find those who are aware of their circumstances. By that I mean, I'm not perfect and I fall, which is why I'm here. If I can have brothers and sisters to be on this journey with me, then that would be awesome. Church is meant to unite us because we are all God’s creation and we should all be in this together fighting for one another. Unfortunately, recently I haven’t been seeing as much of that. I think so much of it is due to the climate we’re in today regarding politics, especially in the United States. 

The 2018 Midterm elections were yesterday and it felt like watching the NBA playoffs with how on the edge of my seat I was the entire time. If you didn’t watch the news or are aware of the results, the Democratic party are now in control of the House of Representatives, and the Republican party still have control over the Senate. 

The polls surprisingly have been very close between the two primary parties. From a poll last night as I watching ABC live, covering the Midterm election results, 77% of Americans today believe the country is more divided than ever. It doesn’t surprise me.

Although I’m only 25, I’ve never seen politics have such a huge impact on my generation as it has today. I suppose it’s a good thing. I believe the youth are more informed today than ever on what’s going on with society and the government. More people today are vocal over their political beliefs. And more than ever, do I see division over it. 

The 2016 Presidential election were rough to say the least. I’ve never seen an election as talked about as the past one. Again forgive me for being young but even looking back in the history books, I never really saw so much division over a presidential election. I do however, understand why and where it’s coming from. I remember being at work and hearing my office passionately talk about it. Let’s just say there was definitely tension in the office the morning after Trump was elected to be President. I wore a light blue dress shirt the next day and remember being asked if I meant I voted for Hilary, which I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I didn’t vote for either Trump and Hilary. I didn’t support either of them so I voted for a third party. Did I expect that third party to win? No not exactly but it wouldn’t have sit well with me voting for someone I didn’t exactly support. To be perfectly honest, I really wished Bernie Sanders won the presidency.

To summarize what I’m trying to say, politics I believe more than ever have drawn a line and has affected families, friendships, relationships, and believe it or not, even churches. 

Politics Dividing The Church?

Check out this excerpt from a Dec 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal, 

“On Nov. 8, white evangelical Christianity and I called it quits,” she wrote in a message posted on Facebook. Ms. Miller, a campus minister at the University of Oregon, says that exit polls showing that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump revealed a divide over race that she, as a biracial woman, can’t condone.”

Honestly I can understand why Ms. Miller here, for made that decision. Politics has made a huge impact and made its way into churches. Although politics do have a place in church for sure, unfortunately the values between different ethnic groups make it different for many to continue being part of a church whose leaders heavily support someone of the opposing party.

In that same article it says,

“But people who identified as white evangelical Christians, as well as white Catholics, supported Republican candidates. Groups that traditionally back Democratic candidates, including religious “nones,” or those without a religious affiliation, Hispanic Catholics and Jews, voted for Hillary Clinton.”

Is that of any surprise? While Christians share a belief that Jesus Christ is the messiah and died for our sins, with politics being so dividing as of recent, it’s no causing contention within the church. After all how can hispanic family where they may have a relative that be an illegal, attend a church where their pastor is openly in favor of a wall being built and supports the President? And vice versa, some people do not want to attend a church where their leader is openly democrat because this means that they support abortion. It’s so tricky and it can get pretty ugly among people.

Many pastors have been very vocal on their politics beliefs. One extreme example is a pastor which out of respect I won’t mention as it adds nothing to the point I’m trying to make. He went viral for his video talking about how Starbucks were pushing Christmas out by their coffee cups by just making the color red with nothing on it. He has shown extreme support for President Trump, and he has even mocked democrats by called them “snowflakes” and many other words. While I don’t follow him on social media, I has seen a picture he had posted of a bunch of women dressed in prison uniform and it had the caption, “Protestors wear Hilary’s new fashion line.”

I don’t know about you, but this bothered me greatly and I’m being choosing my words carefully here. I’m not trying to cat judgment on the next man because we all have our faults, but come on this is just extra. His Instagram is filled with politics beliefs and his strong devotion to the President and politics has cause much backlash among other Christians. 

What is going on? We all share the same faith. Why are people leaving churches when at the end of the day we all have the same goal here on earth and that is love on one another and help bring people to Christ? I began to ask myself, have some Christians taken politics and their patriotism for this country too far? Have Christians started to assume that being a good Christian means being a good, patriotic, conservative republican? Are there Christians on the flip side, condemning those who are simply republican?

What is Idolatry?

Before we go any further, I want to talk a little bit about idolatry. So what is idolatry? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, Idolatry is defined as:

1.) the worship of a physical object as a god

2.) immoderate attachment or devotion to something

An example of idolatry can be seen in Exodus, when the Israelites constructed a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai with God. A modern example of idolatry is money. Money isn’t bad, but the love of it have caused people to stray from God. There are too many people today, who obsess over money and view money as a way to obtain happiness. I’m sorry but God is the only one who can make us feel true joy in our lives, but because people believe the lie that money can, that makes it an idol.

Basically anything taking a priority over God, can be seen as an idol as well. Think about that too. How high is God on your list of priorities? If he’s not high, do your due diligence and work on changing that.

Are People idolizing this country?

So now the big question comes, are people, even some Christians actually idolizing this country? I mean could people actually be worshipping the flag and maybe even, the President? Sounds far fetched right? I mean how can somebody actually be worshipping this country and not know it right? And yet, that is exactly what is happening in this country. I know everything from here on out is going to ruffle some feathers, but I don’t care. This needs to be said. We have millions of Christians who are making the United States of America, an idol.

How so? Let’s take a look at one example, the whole Colin Kaepernick situation. Colin was the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team. He was receiving backlash for kneeling during the National Anthem. Many people were extremely upset about this and felt he should be standing because it was disrespecting the flag, and its troops. Here’s my issue with this. Disrespecting the flag? Does anything see anything odd about that statement? If I throw my iPhone across the room, am I disrespecting the iPhone by breaking it? No right? That question alone sounds ludicrous to say the least. Why? Because it’s an object right? It’s not a person. So why do people have such a strong emotional attachment to a flag? Remember the definition to idolatry. The second definition said idolatry is an immoderate attachment or strong devotion to something. I understand the flag represents freedom, but Kaepernick isn’t protesting the flag nor is he protesting the military. His intention was to protest police brutality in the United States that he felt was targeted towards minorities. He received backlash for participating in peaceful protest. What? Do people even understand that it was a soldier who suggested he kneel?

He now has an endorsement with Nike and when this was first announced, many people were on social media seen burning their Nike brand clothing. I’m sorry but you can’t honestly say that’s a healthy way of disagreeing with someone. This is getting extreme. Yes. Some are going overboard with this devotion for this country and believe being a good Christian equals being a good American. Have we forgotten that we are in this world, but we are not of it? This includes this country. This country is not a nation of God, but of the world. We need to stop thinking this nation that God approve of or something. I don’t speak for God, but I think politicians would see a Jesus more reminiscent of when he confronted the Pharisees for being hypocrites.

Yet people say God bless America, but why? What has this country done for the right to be saving that? If anything, has this country not turned away from God? There are those that argue also that this country was honored God from the beginning? My answer to that is, how? How is slaughtering Native Americans and pushing them out of their land and claiming it was manifest destiny, god-like? How does having a slave plantation honor God? Was it not Moses, the prophet appointed by God, the one who went to Egypt to free those enslaved by the Pharaoh? Let’s talk the segregation and the amount of African Americans who were beaten, killed just because of their skin color? The internment camps of the Japanese during WW2. I mean the list goes on. Again I ask, what makes this country so deserving of saying such a statement as God bless America? 

I’ve been frustrated with all of this for a long time. In a recent rap battle, I spent my whole third round discussing how Christians were idolizing the church. I’ll be sure to link the rap battle in the show notes, but I remember saying,

“This isn’t a secret, and yet there's Christians, who hate me, for disagreeing with polices/

…I just want ya'll to know, there’s a very fine line between patriotism, and idolatry/

Cause patriotism, is where I’ve seen, some of the most arrogant acts/

I mean who knew the golden calf would turn into the American flag?/“

We need to start thinking about where our allegiance lies. Is it more to this country than it is to God? Have we let politics get in the way of loving others? Have we lost compassion due to politics? I’ve seen “Christians” on Facebook talk so harshly on illegal immigrants and it’s heartbreaking to say the least. I’ve seen supposed Christians lack so much empathy and compassion to families that are so desperate to seek a better life. Had Jesus not been snuck into Egypt to avoid being killed? People who have no idea what it’s like to live in poverty. To have no idea what it’s like in a country where drugs and gangs rule the streets and you live in constant fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are Christians who have no idea what it’s like to face religious persecution. There are way too many Christians who lack empathy and who are not reflecting the love of Christ.

My thoughts on The President

With everything I’ve been saying, I’m sure you’re curious as to how I feel about the President. First off, I do not hate Trump, but I do disagree with him. I personally don’t understand why so many evangelical Christians go hard for that man. They get very passionate when speaking on the President and can get extremely offended if someone criticizes him. This is what confuses me. If he was a former pastor and has shown to be a walking ambassador of God, then fine. Unfortunately and I’m not trying to judge but, his walk doesn’t exactly reflect Christ well. 

How Should We Act?

With that said. We should pray for the President because at the end of the day, God allowed him to be that position. God is in control and none of us are perfect. I didn’t vote for him nor do I plan to in 2020, but I do realize he is someone who needs Christ in his life and we should pray for his salvation. Let’s remember that salvation isn’t earned. I don’t deserve to go to heaven, and it yet it’s by grace that I am saved. So let’s not condemn others when we didn’t earn our salvation. I know it isn’t easy, but God calls us to make the tough choices.

In 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 it says,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Neither political party is perfect. In an article on Christian Century.org, Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary says,

“Many Democrats, and many Republicans, feel with great conviction that their choice is the truly Christian one, but let’s face it: neither party today truly and fully embodies Christ values, and neither presents the only right solution.”

I believe that to be true. My advice, let’s be aware that neither political party is of God. Remember this is isn’t the new heaven on earth and this is a world filled with sin and corruption with the enemy running amok. Let’s remember that the United States is not a true Christian nation. It was never one, nor will it ever truly be. The Republican Party is not the God party or Jesus party no matter how they try to paint it. And the Democratic party has many of its faults too as well. I disagree with many democratic and republican beliefs which is why I consider myself to be independent.

Let’s be more tolerant of each other. Let’s try to be more understanding of one another. Let’s show some empathy and compassion. Let’s focus less on being good Americans, and more on being good ambassadors of Christ. Let’s fight for justice, and help the poor. Let’s stop looking at an ethnic group and immediate showing prejudice. Let’s stop looking at white Christians as radical trump supports, let’s stop looking at hispanics as illegal immigrants who are only here to take advantage of this country. Let’s stop looking fearing African Americans and assuming they’re going to commit a crime. There’s only one race, and that is the human race. You think heaven is segregated? You think Jesus treats one person differently? Absolutely not! It sounds ridiculous even thinking that to be true.

Remember what the Bible says In Matthew 22:36-40,

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

If you’re an American living in the United States, you need to make sure you’re living this. If not, you really need to examine your heart and ask the Lord to transform it to be more like His.

Prayer

So as we close this podcast episode, I really want to end this in prayer because more than ever we need to realize that we are first and foremost children of God. Our allegiance should lie in the lamb, not to some political party that isn’t rooted in Christ. Our priority should be to always seek His presence and do what we can, day by day to be more like Him. So wherever you are, I’d like it if you joined me in prayer. Let’s pray for this country, the world we live in, and of course the President.

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord we thank you for this amazing day. We thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercy that you show upon us every day. Lord the world we live in today unfortunately doesn’t always reflect what you show us. Father we’re in a very divided world where churches are divided, racial intolerance is still rampant, and compassion is scarce. Lord help us examine our hearts. Are we being more like you? Or are we reflecting the world instead of the kingdom? If there is an area in our hearts that does not please you, please help us remove it and may you take its place. We pray Lord that we may be tolerant of others regardless of race, political belief, gender, sexual orientation or any other area we may disagree with. We pray for President Trump as well Lord. May you protect him, may you guide him, and may you have an encounter with him that will help him seek you with all his heart. We thank Father because we know at the end of the day, you are always in control. Let our trust lie in you, and not in a country that is of this world. Lord we thank you for all that you are, for what you’ve done, and will do. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Outro

As always thank you so much for tuning in, it was awesome having you and I do hope you enjoyed this episode. This was a tough episode to write because I know so many Christians have different political beliefs but I know how necessary it is for them to hear this. And even non-believers listening. First and foremost I do believe a seed has been planted and will be watered in Jesus’ name, but I also want those not there yet, to at least look at their patriotism under a new light. Are we proud to be an American, or have we let our devotion to the country lead to an extreme, resulting in idolatry. The world we live in isn’t perfect, but let’s make sure our focus is on the one who is. 

I hope this was able to stir a different way of thinking! I would love it if you shared this with a friend who may have a different political belief or someone who you think may be going too hard on their patriotism. So yeah please share this with someone who may be in need of this. Talk to me also! Hit me on social media with any questions on this episode that you may have. I answer everything so feel free to get in contact with me. Please make sure you’re subscribed, as I release a new episode every 7th of the month and being subscribed means you get sent the podcast the moment it’s released. The Message Podcast is on iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify, and of course on my website, mynameisangel.com. I also want to let you guys know we have some big things coming to the podcast very soon! I know guests has been something that you guys would like to see on the show, so just know I’ve been listening and 2019 is going to bring some interest new elements to The Message. But yeah anyways, God bless you and thank you for tuning in! Until next time folks, this has been The Message, with Angel.

Works Cited

Ansberry, Clare. “Breaking Up With Your Church Over Politics.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 4 Dec. 2016, www.wsj.com/articles/breaking-up-with-your-church-over-politics-1480866533.

Bouteneff, Peter. “Do Politics Belong in Church?” The Christian Century, 24 Sept. 2018, www.christiancentury.org/article/opinion/do-politics-belong-church.

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