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Is it wrong for christians to sing national anthem?

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Dr. Israel Akinadewo<br />


• ‘I Don’t Know The Reason Some Christians Do Not Sing The National Anthem. Maybe They Think We Are Worshipping Man By Respecting The Law Of The Land’
• I Know That The Bible Urges Us To Obey Constituted Authority’
• ‘National Anthem Is A Sign Of Patriotism, Respect And Loyalty To One’s Nation’

The Bible enjoins Christians to obey constituted authority, that is, where it does not conflict with the things of God. Sometimes, however, the line demarcating these two can be very thin. For instance, take the national anthem and pledge, which demand unconditional loyalty from citizens. Some Christians are of the belief that such a demand borders on profanity. But is this really true? Should Christians not join others to sing these songs? CHRIS IREKAMBA and CLEOPATRA EKI report.

Singing National Anthem Is Not Evil’
(Rt. Rev. Nnanna Odege, Ex-Moderator, Synod of the West, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria)

National anthem is part of our national civil obligation. We are under the authority of any government because we believe that the state and the church are partners. For instance, in Roman 13:1, the Bible says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” The civil powers that be are ordained of God. Verse 2 says, “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation from God. For the rulers are not terrors to good works, but to evil.”

So, we believe that every religious person, just like every church is under a state, which has a constitution. The state has a welfare package for both the church and the people. And Isaiah 45:1, says “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut…” Cyrus was not a Christians or an Israelite. He was a heathen king. But because Israel was under captivity and under his domain, God said as long as Cyrus is the king at that time He was going to use him. “He is my anointed; so whether he is a Christian or not, he would do my Will.” So, part of doing the will of God under him was to ensure that they obeyed the state’s constitution.

Meanwhile, in Jeremiah 29 verse 11, God said, when you are in a city, you should seek the peace of that city because in its peace you shall also have your own peace. So, you seek the welfare of that city and abide by the constitution of that city. Therefore, singing the national anthem is not evil; it is just like making a commitment. “Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey, to serve our fatherland…” We are all Nigerians. Those denominations and worshippers that won’t sing the national anthem and pledge must be made to understand the constitutional obligation entrenched in the two.

In my church, we sing during the Boys Brigade service and on October 1, when we hold our independence anniversary services. We use the occasion to pray for the country, state and the citizenry. Those churches that don’t sing the national anthem, I don’t know what their constitution is or what their doctrines are talking about. But in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, we sing the national anthem. In Jeremiah, God told us: “In the place where you found yourself, seek the peace of that place. For in her peace you will find your own peace.” Of course, that is referring to a covenant for the people of Israel. We are the spiritual Israelites and we have found ourselves under the tutelage of a country called Nigeria; so we must seek the nation’s peace. By implication, if Nigeria says: ‘Arise O compatriot arise,’ we must also arise. If Nigeria says, ‘compatriots defend one another,’ then the compatriots must defend one another. And though you may not see anything called national anthem in a place, there is order and orderliness regarding the rules and principles of a particular community or city, and that is what should guide everybody. However, such must not be tantamount to the word of God.

‘We Do Not Sing National Anthem’ (Brother Felix Ekundayo Adedokun, Vice President, God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, (The Church of the Living God)
WE owe our allegiance only to Jehovah God and not to man. “Do not worship any other God apart from Him.” For instance, the words of the National anthem promise to eradicate poverty, which no man can do, as only Jehovah God has the absolute powers to do that. We obey constitutional authorities because God allows them.

We are a law-abiding people; we will not violate the laws of the land. The Bible says in Exodus 20:3-4, “we must not worship any graven image under the sun or on the sea.” As for our Christian faith, we must give what belongs to Caesar to Caesar and what’s God to God, Matt 22 verse 21. We follow God’s purpose to the letter.

We of the GKS faith do not sing the national anthem, if the wordings are not in consonance with our religious faith. For instance, take the Pledge, which reads: “I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest…” but our loyalty is to Jehovah God, to His Son and the Church of the living God (GKS), which we represent in this part of the world, but not the government of the world, not any man. We have maximum respect for constituted authority. We pay our tax and obey the laws of the land, but when it comes to matters of faith, this is what we stand for. We do not swear in the law court. We are firm and this is what we believe in God’s Kingdom Society.

We have a GKS or church anthem (song) that we sing to God and the word in the anthem shows our commitment, faith and loyalty to God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the true church, not to any man, not even to the president of the church. The words give us hope for a better life in future despite challenges.

‘There Is A Difference Between Worship And Respect’
(Pastor (Dr.) Jacob E. Umoru, President, Altantic Conference, Seventh Day Adventist Church)

WE encourage our members to sing the national anthem because the Bible commands us to respect the law of the land; that God is the One Who ordains kings and, therefore, we should respect them, as long as they are not contradicting the word of God.

Similarly, the national anthem is to bring about unity and oneness among the nation’s citizens. So, we will not discourage people from singing it. And of course, we have the Adventist youth ministry. This is an arm of the church that takes care of young people, whom we train physically, mentally and spiritually. And part of the physical is that we encourage them to do some exercise and during such programmes, they sing the national anthem. We also sing our own anthem for the young people. It is all about training them to obey, not just the law of the land, and also to respect God.

I don’t know the reason some churches do not sing the national anthem. Maybe they think we are worshipping man by respecting the law of the land. But there is a difference between worship and respect. In fact, there is a deeper one that we call reverence. We don’t revere any man, but only the Lord. The Bible encourages us to respect the law of the land, because God chooses the leaders; even the Jewish economy recognises that. There was a difference between the high priest and the king. The king governs the Jewish economy as a nation, whereas the priest was responsible for them, as far as worship was concerned. And so, biblically, we are supposed to respect the law of the land so that it does not conflict the law of God. Hence, respecting the state by singing the national anthem is not worship, but just a sign of respect and I don’t see anything that is not biblical there. If it is worship, like God commands us not to worship any other God beside Him, but He also encourages us to respect constituted authorities, if you read Romans 13.

‘We Encourage Our Members To Sing National Anthem’
(Very Rev. Msgr. Gabriel Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos)

THE singing of a nation’s anthem is a sign of patriotism, respect and loyalty to one’s nation. Just as the flag is used to depict a nation’s sovereignty, an anthem is meant to encapsulate the ideals that the country represents. Every citizen who believes and pledges allegiance to a nation, is morally bound to strive to recite the anthem as at when due. When you renege in doing so, it may be construed to mean lack of regard or total loyalty to the nation concerned.

On the issue of some churches not singing the anthem, it depends on the foundation of their belief. Some may have an understanding that, this world being a temporal abode, heaven, which is their focused permanent abode, should enjoy all allegiance, including those due to the nation. I know that the Bible urges us to obey constituted authority. While it is not for me to judge those who do not recite the national anthem, the Catholic Church encourages its members to do so. We believe that the State and the Church need to work together in harmony. 

‘It Encourages Patriotism But Cannot Be Made Compulsory For The Church’
(Baba Aladura, Elder (Dr.) Israel Akinadewo, Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Lagos State/Prelate, Motailatu Church, Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide)

THE anthem is seen as a unifying and uplifting song, officially adopted by groups including nations, and brought about to electrify and encourage patriotism among citizens.While it is patriotic for citizens to sing the officially adopted song in any gathering, it cannot be made compulsory for the church. While the church operates within the confinement of a nation, the spiritualism bestowed on it from the heavenly throne, is way above any earthly needs. Hence, the church will always look at the spiritual and biblical expectations in the adoption of its liturgical practice.

Meanwhile, while all citizens are expected to be patriotic and sing the national anthem of their countries, the church does not function in that aspect. The church will weigh the contents of the song, vis-à-vis what the head of the church – Jesus Christ, commanded. For instance, any national anthem that has some words that run contrary to biblical truth cannot be sung by the church.

As a matter of fact, the church cannot operate in the same way like the secular world. This is because in the church, prayers in the name of Christ, commence and end all programmes, and the loyalty is to no other person than Jesus Christ through the Bible.

Therefore, those churches, which adopted the national anthem might have looked at the wordings, and come to the conclusion that it will not diminish the spiritual value of its existence, and at the same time, might have included it as part of their liturgy. However, for the other churches that do not sing the national anthem in their programmes, they are of the opinion that the world cannot influence the church’s practices on the altar of patriotism, for it may end up politicising spiritualism and biblical beliefs, and thereby destroy the church’s spiritual existence.

Finally, the adoption and the non-adoption should be looked at from what Saint Paul said in Philippians 4:8-9 that “(8)Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

‘A Faithful Religionist May Not Sing The Anthem, But Is Committed To National Development’
(Dr. Patrick Oyinkari, Chairman, Association of Sabbath Keepers)
I AM not aware of any church that sings the national anthem of their country in their services, unless perhaps there is a special programme or event such as the National Day or Independence Day. This does not seem to be limited to the Christian faith. If the national anthem is not religious also, as in the case of a state leaning towards a religion, where the state is secular with multiple religions, then it should be perfectly in order to not sing the anthem, when it is not a state function. To my mind, this appears to be in order and does not violate any rules or norms.

There may be churches whose doctrines do not allow their members to sing the national anthem whatever the occasion. Issues that could be raised here will border particularly on patriotism and religious freedom. Not singing the anthem may be seen by some as a show of disloyalty and disrespect to the nation. But on the other hand, if the principles of freedom of religion should hold sway, where a particular religion forbids its members from certain activities, there will be a conflict. Should they align with their faith or display allegiance to the country by joining to sing the anthem? To force them to do so will be a violation of their fundamental human rights.

To sing the anthem or not will, in any case, not determine what actions people will take. If they want to be corrupt, they will very well sing the anthem and still be corrupt. A faithful religionist may not sing the anthem and yet be very committed to the nation’s development. It should, therefore, not be a big deal. What should matter is people’s conduct.



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