A church in Vermont has been getting widespread attention online for its parody of the 1984 Lee Greenwood patriotic song “God Bless the USA,” presenting a more critical view of the United States.
First United Methodist Church of Burlington used a version with different lyrics for their worship service on the Sunday before Independence Day, titled “God Forgive the USA.”
Penned by FUMC’s Music Minister Adam Hall, the song references past wrongs in American history, such as the treatment of Native Americans and African-Americans, as well issues with the current child separation policy issue.
Posted to their Facebook page on Sunday, as of Thursday afternoon “God Forgive the USA” had more than 43,000 views, over 850 shares, and more than a hundred comments.
On their YouTube page, the video is by far their most-watched upload, having more than 15,000 views by Thursday; second place, another parody video posted last year, has fewer than 500.
Mark Demers, lead pastor of FUMC Burlington, told The Christian Post that the song was performed “as an anthem” during worship that it “was appropriate for the theme of worship that day.”
The lyrics for “God Forgive the USA” do include comments about still being proud to be an American, with Demers explaining that he himself had plenty to be grateful for.
“We are proud, and grateful, for freedom to worship, gather, pray, hold power accountable,” explained Demers.
“We are proud of our nation’s historical commitment to tending to the fragile balance between personal and corporate rights. Proud of the protection our free press enjoys.”
While FUMC Burlington opted to present a more critical view of American patriotism in song, other churches in the nation, including the prominent First Baptist Church of Dallas, leaned more towards celebration.
FBC Dallas Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress defended the practice in a recent interview with conservative columnist Todd Starnes, saying that his congregation was not “worshipping America” but rather “God Who has blessed America.”
“I believe there’s nothing wrong and everything right, according to the Bible, for expressing gratitude to God for His blessings upon our country,” said Jeffress.
The song “God Forgive the USA” at First United Methodist Church of Burlington, Vermont.