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Robert Jeffress' Church Choir Debuts 'Make America Great Again' Hymn for Trump

On July 1, a rally entitled Celebrate Freedom took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The event featured a speech by President Donald Trump and music from the orchestra and choir of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, whose pastor is Dr. Robert Jeffress, one of the president's chief evangelical sycophants.

In addition to the expected patriotic tunes at the rally (including the execrable, godless "This Land Is Your Land") was a new song entitled "Make America Great Again." Gary Moore, a former music minister at the church who is no longer a member there, penned the song, which contains the chorus:

Make America great again

Make America great again

Lift the torch of freedom all across the land

Step into the future joining hand in hand

And make America great again

The emcee at the event recognized Moore for his contribution to the program, and President Trump had kind words to say about the tune.

The performance was met with applause and cheers at the event.

Trump praised the choir during his speech, saying that “your music honors our heroes more than words will ever do.”

In fact, the song impressed the president so much that he tweeted a video clip on Independence Day:

The choir and orchestra performing the song at the rally is one thing, but Moore has licensed the song on the Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) website in the hopes that other churches will use the song. For those who don't know, here's how CCLI works. I'm involved in the music ministry at our church, and any song we lead our congregation in that we don't write ourselves must be registered with CCLI so that writers and publishers receive proper credit and receive royalties. CCLI's SongSelect database assures that we have access to the correct lyrics for every song as well.

The bottom line here is that Moore is hoping churches will perform the song and that he will make money off of the next great modern hymn. But here's the kicker: the song's lyrics don't mention God or Jesus anywhere. It's basically a call for...well...somebody to gather together and rally around the old idol of the United States of America.

This song is just one more example of how American Christians in 2017 are content to make an idol out of this nation. I warned against this tendency in the run-up to the 2016 election, and I highlighted the trend last week when I wrote about Jeffress' and FBC Dallas' recent patriotic service. And I'm not alone in my concern. Over at Patheos, church music director Jonathan Aigner contrasts true belief in Jesus with faith that is tainted by nationalistic idolatry:

The political church prays:

“Make America great again!”

Jesus prayed:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The political church prays:

“Build up our empire!”

Jesus prayed:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The political church prays:

“Give us what we want.”

Jesus prayed:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Political idolatry isn't just a phenomenon on the right. You probably remember the song an elementary school teacher taught her kids that praised "Barack Hussein Obama, Mmm mmm mmm." That one went viral. I also remember a group of kids from a private school in Atlanta performing an original song in praise of Obama on a local morning show — that song came complete with perfectly rehearsed harmonies and exuberant choreography.

The thing is, the hymns to Obama fit within his cult of personality, just like the Trump love. But what makes things like the "Make America Great Again" song so pernicious is that it doesn't just wrap the Trumpian nationalism in the American flag, but it also wraps that flag around the cross so that Jesus is obscured.

Don't get me wrong: I love America, and I'm grateful for this nation and the freedom being a citizen affords me. I love Independence Day and other patriotic holidays as well, but I know that my primary citizenship is not of this world, and my allegiance to America pales in comparison to my loyalty and faithfulness to the God that created me and sent His Son to die so that I can have an eternal relationship with Him.

It's wonderful to love your country. It's a great thing to pray for America. It's perfectly understandable to view our freedoms as a blessing from God. But at the same time, it's frightening that far too many people who claim to follow Christ are willing to allow Him to take a back seat to patriotism, nationalism, and Republican politics.

In Revelation 2:4, Jesus tells the Ephesian church, "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first." Some translations use the phrase "first love," emphasizing that the love of God should come before anything else. I pray that believers in our country can repent of this sin and make Jesus their first love once again.