Protestant pastors say they will worship God and honor America at church services this weekend, and they’re not too worried churchgoers will confuse the two.
Most pastors (56%) say it’s important to incorporate patriotic elements into worship services the week of July 4th to celebrate America, including 27% who strongly agree, according to a Lifeway Research study of 1,000 U.S. Protestant pastors. Two in 5 pastors (42%) disagree, and 2% aren’t sure.
“While not a date on the Christian calendar, most Protestant churches adjust their worship services to acknowledge the birth of the United States each July,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “For most churches, it isn’t just tradition. The majority of pastors agree it’s important to incorporate it into the worship experience.”
Pastors with no college degree (70%) or a bachelor’s degree (67%) are more likely to see elements celebrating America as important than those with a master’s (46%) or doctoral degree (50%).
Evangelical pastors (64%) are more likely than their mainline counterparts (48%) to value timely patriotic elements in the worship service.
Denominationally, Pentecostal pastors (77%) and those at non-denominational churches (70%) are more likely than Methodist (52%), Lutheran (48%), Presbyterian/Reformed (44%) and Restorationist movement pastors (29%) to see value in special Independence Day additions.
Younger pastors, those 18 to 44, are the most likely to say the worship service doesn’t need patriotic additions (65%).
Specific Worship Service Changes
Regardless of their opinions on the importance of patriotic elements, few pastors have worship services as usual the week of Independence Day. For 15% of U.S. Protestant pastors, services are no different than other weeks.
Most pastors say the Fourth of July changes involve honoring veterans and their families as well as patriotic music. A majority say they recognize those with family currently serving in the armed forces (59%), include special music honoring America (58%), recognize living veterans (56%) or recognize families who have lost loved ones in service to our country (54%).
Three in 10 pastors say they include other special ceremonies to honor America, and 14% make other changes to the service.
“Changes to July 4th church services today are similar to those described by pastors in 2016 with significant emphasis on people who have served in the military,” said McConnell. “The biggest change is fewer churches including special music related to America (58% compared to 66% in 2016).”