No doubt all conservatives remember the school children who chanted about “mmm mmm mmm, Barack Hussein Obama” while regurgitating his campaign talking points. Rush Limbaugh mocked it for months. It was strange to see a display that so nearly approached the propaganda songs of totalitarian regimes — and in a public school, no less.
Then there was the video in which another group of kids sang about the change that President Obama was going to bring. The professional editing and production value did not prevent the song from crossing the line into officially creepy on the fascism spectrum. Conservatives rightly criticized this too.
Of course, no one on the right would ever go there after the way they reacted to these previous musical performances. So you would think. And you would be wrong. The First Baptist Dallas Choir just asked us to hold their beer, as they sang a song entitled ‘Make America Great Again’ at the “Celebrate Freedom Rally” on Saturday, which was attended by President Trump.
Here is a video cued up to where the song begins as linked by The Hill:
In addition to repeating the Trump campaign slogan numerous times, the song also includes the lyrics “Lift the torch of freedom all across the land / Step into the future joining hand in hand.”
Of course, choirs singing patriotic music is nothing new, especially surrounding holidays like Independence Day. Some patriotic hymns have even melded explicitly Biblical language with historic America events, as is the case with the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Civil War.
But there is something fundamentally different about appropriating the slogan of the (never-ending) campaign of a sitting president. That is heightened by the fact that Baptists voted overwhelmingly for Trump. When a local school or some private organization creates musical odes to a new president, such secular worship is troubling in a fascistic way.
At the Kennedy Center this weekend, the First Baptist Dallas Choir crossed the line into idolatry. The Church has no business putting its faith in and singing songs in honor of worldly leaders.
On Twitter, the snark was limited but strong.
1st Baptist Dallas Choir sings song with words "Make America Great Again" and Trump has written hit worship song for his evangelical base. pic.twitter.com/oMNgnfgJ7H
— Paul Martin (@paulosophia) July 2, 2017
In fact, the number of people tweeting that the song was “AWESOME” is distressing.
Trump, who spoke, ironically and correctly stated that “In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God,” according to the Daily Wire, though he did not address the song he inspired.
I have already written about how evangelicals have sullied their witness by choosing to defend Trump on his insensitive and bizarre statements, as well as by being inconsistent regarding his personal character. A distressing portion of the American Church has already pushed far beyond their understandable “never Hillary” votes for Trump and become his apologists. This song is just another step down the wrong road.
On Independence Day, we celebrate the birth of this great nation, but we ultimately credit God, not men, for the improbable victories in multiple wars with Great Britain. Furthermore, even if America continues to turn to trusting in men, the Church itself should be the last holdout focused on Him. For at least some professing Christians, that seems increasingly less likely.