(Photo: Shepherd Church)
Although a new survey suggests that evangelical Christians are more patriotic than most other religious and non-religious groups, the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy nevertheless reminds believers they should celebrate the 4th of July with zest.
"[On Thursday] America celebrates its 237th year as a republic, and Christians with all others should celebrate vigorously," said IRD president Mark Tooley in a statement released yesterday. "Christians should not so much be 'proud' as grateful for God's countless blessings and resolved to mend our nation's many failures to abide by His standards."
IRD stated that as the nation celebrates Independence Day, a new survey shows "religious Americans are more patriotic than the non-religious."
Two thirds of evangelicals are "extremely" proud to be American, compared to 56 percent of white mainline Protestants, 49 percent of minority Christians, 48 percent of Catholics, and 39 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans. The survey comes from the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service.
Church-going is not factored in the survey, but evangelicals typically are among the most church-going, and likely data for church-going Catholics, mainline Protestants and others would show their patriotic levels nearly as high, IRD said.
Eighty-four percent of evangelicals believe God has "granted the U.S. a special role in history," versus 40 percent of the religiously unaffiliated. About three-quarters of evangelicals and Catholics (76 percent) believe that the world "would be better off if more countries adopted America's values and way of life."
Tooley added, "The United States began as a small, disconnected collection of 13 states, overwhelmingly agrarian, only 3 million people mostly living on the edge of poverty, dependent on foreign powers for most finished goods, and scandalously allowing human slavery. Across three centuries it became the world's most powerful and prosperous nation, the economic engine and breadbasket of the world, guardian against totalitarianism, and exponent of ordered liberty.
"The United States is and always has been a nation of sinners who have never fully lived up to the founding aspirations of justice and equality for all under God. Today it grapples with attacks on marriage and family, lack of protection for the unborn and unprecedented assaults on religious liberty, a founding premise for our nation.
"Every generation must fight anew for liberty. But as we wage these battles, spiritually and politically, we must thank God for His many blessings across 237 years and ask His help in aligning our country with His truth and love," he concluded.
Founded in 1981, IRD has been "a voice for transparency, for renewal, and for Christian orthodoxy," the organization states on its website. Theologian and IRD board member Thomas Oden said group members "are not presuming to create new doctrine but hold firmly to apostolic teaching in ways especially pertinent to current circumstances. The theology is orthodox, reliable, stable, beautiful, familiar, and glorious. By it the church has been blessed by God for two thousand years."
IRD explains, "Our historic ties with renewal efforts in the mainline denominations along with our connection to the broader evangelical movement give us a unique and comprehensive perspective on Protestant American church life and social witness."