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Do Christians Worship the National Anthem? One Leader Says They Do

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A campus ministry leader in New Orleans is calling out "white Christians" for allegedly turning the National Anthem into a religious ceremony. 

Morgan Guyton is director of a United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans, LA. He argues that white Christians' patriotism and respect for the American flag have secularized Christianity.

"Today, the NFL announced that NFL teams will be fined if their players kneel for the National Anthem. It got me thinking about the way the National Anthem has become the most important religious ceremony in our culture. It's definitely more important than communion," he writes in Patheos.

His comments come after the National Football League decided Wednesday after years of controversy, that players are no longer allowed to kneel during the National Anthem. A number of athletes kneeled to protest what they believe is the oppression of minorities in America. However, controversy arose when a majority of viewers saw the kneeling as a disrespectful and unnecessary.

"I'm pretty confident that our church fathers would view putting your hand over your heart for the National Anthem as synonymous to offering incense to Caesar, which is what the early Christians were killed for not doing. The fact that so many white Christians today have incorporated 'respect for the flag' into their 'Christian' value system demonstrates the degree to which patriotism has secularized their Christianity," he continues.

He argues that "overly pious patriotism" is the result of a belief system built on "respectability rather than the mercy and justice" of the gospel.

On social media, Guyton compared black football players who kneel during the anthem to "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego," while White Christian NFL fans are like "King Nebuchadnezzar's advisors" who told him to kill anyone who does not worship him.

Not everyone agrees with Guyton.

"This is not about black, white, brown, red or yellow; it's about respect for the country and its flag, which symbolizes we are 'one' nation under God," said Joseph Bruce Sofia, senior pastor at Gloucester County Community Church in Sewell, New Jersey.

"The national anthem speaks of oneness and not division; it speaks of hope and unity, of poverty to wealth, from the ghetto to the Presidency," he continued.  "The Biblical principle of sowing and reaping is in effect here. Sow discord and we'll reap discord. Oppression is a horrible thing and needs to be taken on head-on, but take it to the town hall or courts or social media but, in my opinion, using the national anthem during a football game draws a line in the wrong sand."

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