I actually thought the "Make America Great Again" song was pretty catchy. (It starts at about the 34:00 mark in the video below):
I was, however, surprised at the way Robert Jeffress, the pastor First Baptist Church–Dallas, defended the song against critics who thought it was inappropriate for a church choir.
In a recent interview at The Christian Post, Jeffress said:
There is no difference in singing "Make America Great Again" than there is in singing any other patriotic song, like the "Star Spangled Banner." This song was sung at a patriotic rally at a concert hall on Saturday night, not sung in a church as a worship song on Sunday morning.
Fair enough. I was willing to give Jeffress a pass here. But then he says that the song is okay because it was "not sung in a church as a worship song on Sunday morning." Oh boy. By this logic, how does Jeffress explain what happened at First Baptist–Dallas on Sunday, June 25, 2017?
Patheos blogger Jonathan Aigner recently wrote about the "Make America Great Song":
It's not only their candidate's campaign slogan, it's now a part of their gospel...It's their mantra, their creed, their prayer, and they shout it out with nationalistic fervor. Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the Kingdom of God and self, they pray a blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus."
Frankly, it is hard to see this any other way when the song is interpreted (like any historian would interpret it) in the context of the June 25, 2017 "Freedom Sunday" service and Jeffress's remarks of introduction for Trump after the song was performed last Saturday night.
The Jeffress interview does not stop there. He describes his evangelical critics as "gnats":
They are absolutely nothing but evangelical gnats who are looking for any excuse to nibble at the president. What we do have in President Trump is the president who has done the most to protect religious liberty of any president in America...If you take these critics' argument to their logical end, then Christians need to quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Actually, some Christians do think that they need to quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I am not one of them, but I fully understand why some of my fellow Christians might find this problematic.
And then Jeffress continues:
These evangelical Never Trumpers are incensed because President Trump's election demonstrated how irrelevant they are to Christians. Christians did not listen to these Never Trumpers, in spite of all their blogs and all of their tweets about President Trump," Jeffress said. "If anybody listened objectively to what President Trump said Saturday night, it was the most god-honoring, faith-affirming speech I have ever heard any president give at any time in history.
"At any time in history?" I can think of at least five (and probably more) Obama speeches that were more "faith-affirming" than what Trump said last Saturday night. But let's go back even further. How about Lincoln's Second Inaugural for starters?
Jeffress is probably correct when he says that Trump's election demonstrated the irrelevance of the evangelical "Never Trumpers." What scares me here Jeffress's attempt to equate the "relevance" or popularity of a particular political view with whether or not such a view is correct or moral. Do we really want to go there? Anyone who knows anything about American history will understand what I mean when I ask this question.
Apparently Jeffress's new moral standard is 81%.
I remain a faithful #19percenter.