What is the meaning of the pledge of allegiance? Is it appropriate for individuals to reject saying the pledge of allegiance? Furthermore, is it appropriate for individuals to recite such an all encompassing pledge?
These thoughts have been deep on my heart recently. I began wondering about the meaning and purpose of the pledge. I began looking into Biblical and philosophical positions on the pledge and considered what the motivation is for saying it, and whether it is always completely appropriate.
This moral dilemma was nagging at me. Given the dilemma, I did what anyone would do. I turned to Google. In doing so, I cam across an interesting commentary by Jim Perry. The article is entitled “What I Expect My Child To Learn From Not Saying the Pledge of Allegiance.”
I take words very seriously and feel it is beneficial to have an intellectual conversation about the words we use. If there is a government and societal requirement to recite something, we should continually question our reasons and our motives for doing so. Our government expects us to say this oath before each meeting, at the start of the school day, etc. I feel great harm has been done throughout history because individuals blindly accept things without raising questions on issues such as this.
The pledge may be valid and appropriate, then again, it may not. Culturally, it is completely unacceptable to discuss the relevance and purpose of the pledge in a skeptical manner, but I really feel like we need to have this discussion.
Please comment on your opinions on this after the article. I want each of your opinions on this because I really do want to think through some of this and have that debate. Open discussion is always better than blind acceptance in important matters such as this.
Here are my concerns with the pledge of allegiance:
- Blind recitation of any pledge or oath just brings images of gulags, re-education, and dead religions. Reciting pledges simply because a culture or a state demands it only demonstrates one’s tendency to submit to another power. While submission to some may be merited (i.e. submission to God), most submission is just an acknowledgement that another entity has forced you into a place where you must do as you are told or face serious consequences.
- A blanket submission to a country diminishes your allegiance to God. As written, the pledge almost seems to imply that our submission to God comes through our submission to our country. While I believe in following the laws when possible, a person who is so tied to the allegiance to a state would have to acknowledge that their true lord may be the state and not God Himself.
- If I make a pledge to “the flag of the United States of America and to the republic,” that is a very serious commitment. I do not want to make a commitment that I may have to go back on. It seems more and more that our nation’s laws conflict with what God would direct a person to do. We cannot serve two masters. While we can live in the nation and respect its laws, if laws conflict with our beliefs, as mandated by our creator, it is our duty to oppose them. How can we, on the one hand pledge our allegiance to God, while on the other, pledge to our country without a condition attached to it.
- Pledging to a flag seems to border idolatry. I am an evangelical Christian who has a serious concern if I put anything to the level of near deity. My pledge is to God alone, and because of God, my pledge is to build my family in a Godly fashion, to share the message of Jesus, to respect my fellow man, and to live in peace with others. Some may argue that we must “give Caesar what is Caesar’s” but my counter would be that such a strong pledge of allegiance is not Caesar’s to have. That sort of unconditional allegiance is reserved for God alone.
- I respect the idea of a republican form of government, of the rights of individuals, and of the honoring of agreements between our fellow man. However, it does a disservice to these ideals when we sum them up into a physical object that we solute to. It diminishes the true power of the American experiment that we embrace.
- A pledge to a union that is indivisible is a denial of states rights and of the reality of the situation. The union is only as strong as the commitment that the individual states made to abide by the constitutional intent of the union. When the breakdown of respect for the constitutional agreement takes place, there should be a natural loosening of ties within the union. This is our “miner’s canary.” The only reason this does not occur is that the federal government forces the offended states back into submission. The framers intended a weak union to prevent this from happening. The pledge we recite implies a permanent and strong union, which in my opinion, is designed to force submission of the states to a federal normalcy.
- The pledge is specifically targeted at children. While I am all about teaching children our national heritage, I want them to take ownership in our history, not because they blindly recited a pledge over and over, but because they truly thought through the same issues that our founders thought through. Blind recitation makes subjects, intellectual ownership makes citizens.
Once again, I want your opinion. It is something that has been pulling at my heart for a while. I respect the reader’s of this blog. A couple years ago, I would have had a knee jerk reaction of calling such questions treasonous. I believe it not to be so now, but I want input from you. Please reply with any comments, good or bad below. If you do your own blog post or Facebook note, link to it, I want to see it!
I will end by saying this. I love the freedoms that our country is founded on. The founders of our nation were geniuses ahead of their time. They changed the world because they stood on principles, whether or not they were popular. These founders challenged the very fabric of western thought and made their world a better place. They created a nation that respected liberty and justice for all, and for that, we can all be grateful.
By bringing this up for debate, I hope to, in a small way, encourage that sort of continual dialog that helped the founders formulate the logical ideas that created the bedrock for our nation.