Patriotic displays are common at Fourth of July church services

Photo by Andrew Ruiz (via Unsplash)

Protestant pastors say they’ll worship God and honor America at church services this weekend, and they’re not too worried that worshipers will confuse the two.

Most pastors (56%) say it’s important to incorporate patriotic elements into July 4th week services to celebrate America, including 27% who strongly agree, according to a Lifeway Research study than 1,000 American Protestant ministers. Two in five pastors (42%) disagree and 2% are unsure.

These results represent a slight decrease from Lifeway Research 2016 studywhile 61% of pastors felt like worship the elements were important.

“Although not a date on the Christian calendar, most Protestant churches adjust their worship services to recognize the birth of the United States each July,” said Scott McConnell, executive director from Lifeway Research. “For most churches, it’s not just tradition. The majority of pastors agree that it is important to incorporate it into the worship experience.

Pastors without a college degree (70%) or bachelor’s degree (67%) are more likely to see elements celebrating America as important than those with a master’s (46%) or doctorate (50%).

Evangelical pastors (64%) are more likely than their mainstream counterparts (48%) to value timely patriotic elements in worship service.

From a denominational perspective, Pentecostal (77%) and non-denominational (70%) pastors are more likely than Methodist (52%), Lutheran (48%), Presbyterian/Reform (44%) pastors and restorationists (29%) to see the value of special additions for Independence Day.

Younger pastors, those 18 to 44, are the most likely to say the worship service doesn’t need patriotic additions (65 percent).

Changes specific to the worship service

Regardless of their views on the importance of patriotic elements, few pastors have worship services as usual on Independence Day week. For 15% of American Protestant pastors, services are no different than other weeks.

Most pastors say the July 4 changes involve honoring veterans and their families as well as patriotic music. A majority say they recognize those whose families are 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 dear in the service of our country (54%).

Three in 10 pastors say they include other special ceremonies to honor America, and 14% make other changes to the service.

“The changes to July 4 services today are similar to those outlined by pastors in 2016, with a particular focus on those who have served in the military,” McConnell said. “Biggest change is fewer churches, including America-related special music (58% vs. 66% in 2016).”

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