Christian Worship, American Idolatry and War

What happens in worship makes a difference in the lives of worshipers. Polls
have indicated that there is a correlation between frequency of worship and positive
behaviors. Regular worship attendees are more likely to become involved in volunteer
service. They are also more likely to participate in overseas charitable giving. A smaller
percentage of weekly worshipers engage in promiscuous sex or abuse drugs or alcohol.
One study indicated that over 60 percent of adoptive parents attended worship weekly.
Comparable results were found in studies done on both sides of the Atlantic (See the
studies listed by Rodney Clapp, “On the Making of Kings and Christians,” in Todd E. Johnson, ed., The Conviction of Things Not Seen: Worship and Ministry in the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2002), 113-115).

In matters that pertain to the relationship between faith and nation studies
point in a different, more disturbing direction. Harvard University political scientist
Samuel Huntington cited two surveys – one of 15 mostly European countries and the
other of 41 countries – which found that the more religious a people are, the more
likely they are to be “very proud” of their country. The United States ranks very close to
the top of both characteristics. Huntington concluded, “Americans are overwhelmingly
committed to both God and country, and for Americans they are inseparable.”(Samuel
Huntington, Who Are We? (Simon & Schuster, 2004), 365).

Inseparable? Other polls seem to support Huntington’s claim. Prior to the
beginning of the war in Iraq, a Gallup Poll conducted in October 21-22, 2002, found
that 54% of the public supported the invasion of Iraq. The same level of support was
shown among those who attended church weekly (55%) as was found among those who
never attend church (55%). Those who identified themselves as part of the religious
right showed the highest level of support for the invasion of Iraq (63%). The researches
reported, “Gallup data suggests that devotion to a religion doesn’t necessarily dictate a
commitment to peace…” ( “Protestants and Frequent Churchgoers Most Supportive of Iraq,” http://www.gallup.com/poll/7186/faith-warconflict-religious-americans.aspx.).

Several years later another Gallop survey conducted from early 2005 to February
2006 showed results that were even more discouraging. Among those with no religion
62% answered that they believed it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. Of those
affiliated with a non-Christian religion 58% said the war was a mistake. A smaller
percent of those who identified themselves as Christians agreed, with 52% of Catholics
and just 45% of Protestants saying it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. The study
showed that the greatest opposition to the war came from black Americans who also
tended to be highly religious and predominantly Protestant. When only whites were
considered fully 50% more Protestants supported the war in comparison to those with
no religion. “In general,” the report stated, “the more frequently an American attends
church, the less likely he or she is to give
their support to the next war and to future acts of violence that are done in the name
of national security. In face of the allure of the nation, Christians must say as Jesus did
when tempted in the wilderness, “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the
Lord your God and serve only him’” (Matt 4:10).

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