Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Why Christians Might Want to Abstain From Reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance”

Instead of a constant cultural debate over "under God," I think a better question is: "Should a Christian recite the pledge of allegiance at all?"

The “Pledge of Allegiance” is one of those issues that surfaces in the news consistently– usually regarding debate over the line “under God”. Conservative Christians want to fight to keep “under God” in the pledge, while secularists and others prefer it be removed, thus restoring the pledge to its original state.

Because the pledge has been recited at the start of every day in nearly every school across the country, questioning this practice has been something that Christians on a large scale have failed to do. As a result, it has become so ingrained in our culture that recently a teacher in NJ who was not having her students recite the pledge was accused of “indoctrinating” them (which is odd– refusing to participate sounds like the opposite of indoctrination to me.)

However, I think we’re having the wrong discussion on this issue entirely. Instead of a constant cultural debate over the wording of the pledge, I think a better question is:

Should a Christian recite the pledge of allegiance at all?

Admittedly, I never once asked myself this question until the last year or two. Once I really started to consider the issue from all sides, I was actually really disappointed that it had taken me so long to actually see this issue for what it was. In the end, I have become convinced that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is something that a Jesus follower probably shouldn’t do.

First off, the word pledge means “A solemn binding promise to do, give, or refrain from doing something”, which in and of itself should raise some concerns. In Matthew 5:34 Jesus teaches his disciples that followers of his should not take oaths at all– that we should simply let our “yes mean yes and no mean no”. While one might debate whether or not a “pledge” is the same thing as an “oath”, I think in reality they most certainly are. While pledge is defined as “a solemn binding promise”, an oath is defined as “a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness.”

Personally, I don’t see how making a pledge is any different than taking an oath– and on that matter, the teachings of Jesus seem pretty straight forward when he said, “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all.”

Secondly, I think it is important to ask What or who are we making a pledge to?”

In the Pledge of Allegiance, we are making a solemn, binding promise of loyalty “to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands”.

This means, first we are taking an oath– something Jesus taught us not to do, and secondly, as we take this oath we are not swearing our loyalty to Christ but instead to an earthly kingdom.

So the question becomes: how can a follower of Jesus swear their loyalty to anything or anyone other than Jesus himself?

While I love my country, I can no longer in good conscience swear my loyalty to her– because my loyalty is solely with Christ and his Kingdom. I will be a good and supportive citizen in the country I live, so long as those aspects are consistent with the Kingdom Jesus came to bring to earth. But the moment those two no longer line up? My loyalty is to God’s Kingdom– even if that means I must be disloyal to the earthly kingdom I find myself in. As such, there is simply no way that I could in good conscience “pledge my allegiance” to this earthly kingdom, knowing that I very well will eventually have to break that solemn oath.

Jesus warned us that it simply is not possible to divide our loyalties. When using the example of money, Jesus taught that it is impossible to “serve two masters because you will love one and hate the other”. And, Jesus was right about this principle– pledging our loyalty to two different entities is simply not a tenable thing one can do. Trying to be loyal to two things which are not identical, is a practical impossibility.

Now, many Christians may read this and say “I don’t have a problem saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but I agree– if I have to choose to be loyal to God or country, I’ll always choose God”. If this is the case, the third problem that arises is that such an individual, when making the Pledge of Allegiance, is actually being dishonest. If one is not prepared to actually give their solemn allegiance to the country “for which it stands” above all else, then one should not make that commitment in the first place. While Jesus clearly seems to forbid oath taking, if one were going to do so anyway, it seems it would at least be good and right to only do so in situations where one could actually fulfill that solemn promise.

Since I am a “citizen of heaven” as scripture states, I cannot in good conscience pledge my allegiance to an earthly kingdom. Not this kingdom, not any kingdom.

If you’ve never considered this issue before, I hope you’ll give it some thought and take time to consider the implications of pledging one’s allegiance to a kingdom that is not at all aligned with the Kingdom of God, and that we’ll begin teaching our children from an early age the truth:

Our allegiance should be pledged to the ways of Jesus, and nothing else.

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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  • So…..here is a thought. What I find interesting is the selective nature in which the scripture in Matthew is being utilized in this article. The conclusion drawn is that we should not say the pledge because it is an oath and Jesus says we should not make oaths. But what about marriage, isn’t marriage an oath? What about borrowing money? When we borrow money we are making an oath to our creditors and giving them authority over the future of our lives. What about when we go under contract for a job? Is that not an oath? In fact, to write a response on this forum all of us agreed to an oath of how we would behave and speak to each other. “By signing up, you agree to the Disqus Basic Rules, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy.” How can we selectively use this scripture to single out the pledge of allegiance but forget the other oaths we engage in. Some oaths, such as marriage are even encouraged in scripture. This particular scripture is even connected to the the scriptures before it where Jesus is talking about marriage…an oath ordained and designed by God. Jesus sums of the point of both these scripture when he says “Let your yes be yes and no be no.” The point is integrity. Jesus encourages us to be careful of the words we speak and to fulfill our commitments regardless of whether there is pledge or oath attached to it.

    • I love how people who claim to be Christians are always trying to wheedle out of what Jesus demands of them. You want to swear “by God” or on a Bible, or whatever else you want to add to your “yes”. But how clear does Jesus need to be:

      “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

      If you really want to add nonsense to your “yes”, stop calling yourself a Christian. Jesus makes it as clear as day that, as a Christian, you have only one legitimate option: do not swear or perform oaths at all.

      It’s not meant to be easy. If it was meant to be easy, he wouldn’t have made a point of it, because anyone could do it without being conflicted about it. It’s SUPPOSED to make you unable to do certain jobs; it’s SUPPOSED to make certain agreements impossible; it’s SUPPOSED to make it harder for Christian kids to get along with other kids in school who want them to say the pledge. That’s the whole point! It’s SUPPOSED to make the eye of that needle smaller and more difficult to get through.

      This hypocrisy – this unwillingness to do what Jesus demands of his followers – is precisely why Christians are regarded as such hypocrites by those who do not share their faith. If Christians actually did what Jesus demanded of them, they might get a bit more respect.

  • The minister who wrote the Pledge did not include the words UNDER GOD. It was added during the witch hunts for communists in the 50’s.

  • Another verse worth considering on this matter, one I’m surprised was not referenced, is Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

  • Interesting article, and some interesting and thought provoking comments below (the serious ones I mean). But I’m curious as to what would be said to those of other countries who make a similar allegiance, albeit one not recited every day at school (which I find creeping and tending towards brainwashing). I have american friends who refuse to recite the pledge of allegiance, and who apparently made those decisions once they were teenagers and old enough to reason and think it through for themselves (probably helps that at least one of the is partly american indian). I remember giving an oath of allegiance to the head of my country once as a child (when I started secondary school,) but the same person is also the head of my church and God’s representative on earth at this current time. I have since moved and now live in a republic but strangely, I would still – if it became necessary – honour my pledge or oath of allegiance to the leader of my country of birth and also the country where I grew up (not the same) and of my church, even if it was against the country in which I now reside. I know others who think the same, also those who live here yet practice my religious practice and who also pledge allegiance to the same person. Can you swear an oath to God’s representative on earth, but more to the point as regards this discussion, can you really swear an oath to a piece of fabric? A couple of my friends say that as the flag was always in front of them as they recited their pledge and they were taught it was to the flag they were pledging allegiance. I can honestly say that while I can understand being told to be loyal to your country is one thing, but being told to be loyal to a piece of printed fabric, that is something completely new to me and not something I think I could understand, certainly not as a young child. What happens to those who pledged to follow the flag when it only had 50 stars and stripes because there were only 50 states, do they remain loyal to those 50 states or to those added since? An intriguing thought, and one I’m going to think about further. Thank for this article, and for the many interesting comments below – the genuine ones, not those who can only shout down those who don’t think the same as them.

  • Quakers figured out that saying pledges was un-Christian 350 years ago. They were persecuted for it by other Christians. Some of them were hanged. And just look at some of the vitriolic responses here!

    Religion divides people – and all in the name of a god for whom there is no evidence whatsoever.

  • I went to Catholic schools for nine years.
    Every day we would recite the “Apostles’ Creed”. This is not a prayer. This is social reassurance and imprinting.
    Then we would say the “Our Father”, or, in high school, “Pater Noster”, a plea to “God”.
    Then we would chant our “Hail Mary” (Ave Maria), so Jesus’ mother would intercede for us with her omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent son.
    And when all the divine cant had been decanted, we would stand with our hands on our hearts and pray to a flag, a rag, a symbol of hypocritical historical horror.
    I managed to keep a straight face and so I lived.
    Look, if there is a “God” and he knows what I need, he will give it to me or not, and his wisdom will not be swayed by pleas and groveling.
    It is religious folks who demand the plea and the groveling. It is the religious folks who demand conformity. If there is a “God”, if he wanted us all the same he would have made us all the same.

  • I think the idea of oath the writer has is not the way most of us view it today.
    The Pledge certainly carries no legal compulsion, and it goes without saying (I would think) that we pledge allegiance because “the Republic for which it stands” is worthy of our pledge. Should that republic fail to continue to earn our respect, our pledge would also be ended.
    All of this is a well and good, but I was deeply troubled that the pledge has another obvious lie, and the writer seems unconscious of it.
    “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
    That was a lie when the pledge was dreamed up and it’s a lie today when a police officer shoots a black man for no reason other than his being black. And this seems to just go on and on and on, and nobody cares that our police officers have an unspoken license to murder blacks, complete with a get-out-of-jail-free card.
    I was disappointed that this obvious heinous matter was ignored and nit picking stuff was instead the focus. If a pledge says a lie, a Xtian should not accept it, and most Xtians do not accept the simple fact of the lie in the pledge. Justice is not intended for all; it never was. So at least stop lying about it!

  • I haven’t said the pledge for many years, which is sometimes very uncomfortable, being a teacher in the south. But how could I? I pledged my allegiance to Christ a long time ago. How could I pledge allegiance to anyone else? Especially when the flag represents the opposite of Christ in almost every way. As he said, no one can serve two masters. I don’t understand how anyone can consider themselves the bride of Christ while swearing to be faithful to empire.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have been abstaining from this practice for a very long time. I grew up as a Witness and had to deal with this issue again and again. Plesging your allegiance to a country makes you culpable for everything that country stands for. Let’s not lie to ourselvea the United States was found on theft, rape and murder. It became an economic force by means of slavery and today we exploit countries all over the world under the auspices of “freedom”. Pledge if u want. I never have and never will. I guarantee Jesus wouldn’t. Ironically enoigh, if Jesus was alive today, the last thing he would be is ” Christian.”

  • Christians make me sick with how they think people should act, DOWN HERE!!
    Benjamin should hold a degree in, Common sense.
    God promised a place in heaven but, there is some rules you have to follow down here on Earth first.

    “Since I am a “citizen of heaven” as scripture states, I cannot in good
    conscience pledge my allegiance to an earthly kingdom. Not this kingdom,
    not any kingdom”.

    Hold on there cowboy, that sentence has a catch to it, IF you make to heaven, so don’t be so cocky that you actually think your going to end up in heaven.

    Maybe he/she has other plans for you because maybe, somewhere in life you sinned, maybe he/she won’t be so forgiving.

  • The Pledge is very robotic and creepy. It doesn’t have an origin I respect. Any military or civilian officer will pledge to uphold the constitution of the United States. This is an entirely different thing and makes sense if that is what your job will be. To force every citizen to recite this is not good. I stand quietly until the infernal event is over.

  • On the subject of oaths, the pledge of allegiance isn’t one, in the sense that Jesus meant, it is a solemn promise or affirmation. Full quote: “But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King, and do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” The point being that you shouldn’t use God as a prop to assert your honesty, and that what you say you should do regardless of whether you swore an oath or not.
    The distinction is important because an oath to God in the formal sense Jesus meant was taken in his time as binding over all other moral obligations, regardless of the consequences. A promise, on the other hand, is subject to pre-existing obligations and morality (for example a contract to do an illegal act is not binding in law). Not being American I can’t speak to the pledge of allegiance itself but I wouldn’t see myself as a Christian being bound by promised loyalty to my country to do anything immoral or contrary to God, and (subject to this proviso) I can’t see anything inherently non-Christian in, if living in a country on which I exercised the full privileges of citizenship, promising to carry out my required civic duties and abide by its laws.

  • Keep in mind, too, that the flag embodies the ideal of America. Remember, the words of the pledge of allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Did you catch that? The flag is a symbol of the ideal republic we as Americans strive to be as a people, one that provides liberty and justice for all. When you honor the flag, you’re not honoring every wrong deed of every American since it’s founding. You’re honoring and pledging allegiance to this high ideal.

  • The original Pledge of Allegiance was something that was meant to be applicable to all nations and had no mention of God. Today, the United States is the only nation that has a pledge.

  • By your logic, Jesus has told us that all Christians must hate the United States as we can serve only one master and hate the other. Meanwhile, the Ten commandment, supposedly dictated directly by God, tells to honor both our father and mother which appears to put God at odds with his son. Unfortunately, idiots like yourself have stretched God’s word and the truth in so many way, and even worse, attempted to act as God himself by rendering judgement on what is not yours to judge. An all powerful God will not fear out pledge and loyalty to Country, Family, and Friends. If he didn’t like it, he certainly has the ability to tell us so without lamebrains like you helping.

    • To follow Jesus is to be a morale citizen and blessing to the U.S. There is a difference between honoring and pledging allegiance plus parents aren’t the country. Of course, your right, God fears no one, but he also doesn’t want his own bowing (think of the three Hebrew slaves thrown into the furnace by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar) or taking oaths.

      So how did you end up on this site?

  • Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled. Mark 12:17.

  • Most folks don’t put God first, or even second in anything, though they claim to. It’s a free country. The pledge of allegiance is not a must do or a must not do. It’s called FREEDOM folks.

  • Lets see. Is it okay to pray while you smoke? Most answer no, so let’s try it another way. Is it okay to pray while you smoke? Most answer yes, it is okay to pray any time. Same issue here.

  • what a load of crap. By pledging to honor and support the country where you live IS NOT putting GOD in second place. GET A LIFE – THIS IS JUST STUPID.

  • I’m glad my country doesn’t require me to put patriotism and the State over my beliefs.

    Aren’t these normally the same people who think their country is out to kill em.

    BTW in the name of patriotism you consent to kill your brother for the sake of ‘national interest’.

  • Did not Jesus also say, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:” How much money you got Doc ? Unless you are willing to give it all away I can’t take this argument seriously. Nice try though.

  • LMAO When you guys are in trouble the first thing that comes out of your mouths is “Oh God, please help me” “Oh God please protect my family”, etc. You are a bunch of morons

  • You can like peanut butter because it’s good, and you can like jelly because iit’s good, but together they are AWESOME! You are just like so many people today, just looking for something to complain about. You are pathetic!

  • For those who say that the Pledge is to a man, you are wrong. The Pledge is to our COUNTRY. Like the oath I took in 1966, I consider myself to be bound by the oath to defend and protect this Country and the Constitution. I am not bound to support any one man, no matter how high his office. I am also Wiccan and I have no problem with the wording of this pledge.

  • I will not swear on the Bible or any other way. I believe that is what Jesus meant in Matthew and what James means in James 5:12. This is just another idiot wanting his 5 minutes of stirring up controversy.

  • Interpretations of ancient writings are best left to the individual, who may or may be a history scholar, in applying their own understandings of what they have read as to its validity ! In this case Dr.Cory’s assertions, and assumptions are historically dead wrong, with forgetting within the context of times when Jesus, and his followers lived, and under whose laws they lived, and were expected to respect, and adhere to ! It is in that context that Jesus, and his followers were responding to , not expressing an ultimatum for people living eons after, under a free nation of people ! So telling people that following his (Dr.Cory’s) interpretation is correct, and proper, because of his credentials, is shortsighted, as well as unpatriotic ! Lucky for him he lives now, and in a country that allows you, your own opinions about it, as opposed to the Roman Empire !

  • I see no conflict as a Christian for 69 years. In Matthew 22:21Jesus says, “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

  • I heartily thank you for your article. I have had misgivings about the pledge for years now, and now I understand why. Why is it that so many Christians are determined to make this a Christian nation. It’s not a Christian nation, it never has been a Christian nation. The only Christian nation that exists is The Church, the Body of Christ with Jesus as is sovereign head, of which we are citizens of. I have no need to attempt for force the ungodly to live the way I believe a Christian should live. They are not believers, why try to force them?

  • It could be argued that the pledge is safe because it is under terms that are in unity with those of Jesus. In other words, your allegiance is pledged to the flag of the United States of America, and the republic for which it stands, so long as it is for one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. All good things, all arguably Godly things, in fact. Also, all things that the US struggles to actually be “for” from time to time. What this means, is your pledge is null when the “republic for which it stands” is no longer acting in those values of on nation, indivisible, and standing for liberty and justice for all.

    Christians have little to worry about because the republic will break its end of the pledge, rendering it void.

      • I see it as extending the benefit of the doubt. I can hope that the nation remains true to the Godly principles, but if it does not that does not make me dishonest. In fact, I can’t see that knowing that someone can and may break an agreement would ever make the one who didn’t break the agreement dishonest…

  • As an atheist and Gulf War vet, I find you view refreshing. In this day and age where it seems that if one doesn’t automatically come to attention, salute and worship the military, you’re deemed “Un-American”. I didn’t serve so school-kids could be guilt-tripped into standing and/or reciting a pledge they don’t agree with. I didn’t serve so people would be coerced into giving blinded loyalty to our country. Thank you for this.

  • Jesus warned us to not give oaths because yes and no should be sufficient due to the abuse of oaths with complex rules by the authorities.

    Matthew 23:16-22

    New International Version (NIV)

    16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

    The Apostle Paul recorded in the Epistle to the Hebrews one of the earliest NT books(circulated widely around A.D. 63) that the purpose of oaths is clarification that they hold no power themselves.

    Hebrews 6:16

    16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.

    This is why we can affirm all government oaths instead of swearing.

    Jesus said to give to Caesar’s what is his which is us while on earth. He taught the apostles to submit to authorities.

    Romans 13:4-6

    New International Version (NIV)

    4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

    1 Peter 2:13-14

    New International Version (NIV)

    13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

    So we need to balance our duty to God with our duty to God’s servants which are the church and the government.

    So to say the pledge of allegiance is actually our duty to God and to show respect for God’s servants in the earthly kingdom(the government and the church. So oaths are not bad but you should examine the meaning of your words. You should also work to show the Christian way through submission and right living.

    In fact the Centurion understood this more than the disciples.

    Matthew 8:7-10

    New International Version (NIV)

    7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

    8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

    10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

  • While I approve of your conclusion, I find your reasoning rather worrisome. You are treating the word “loyalty” to refer only to an absolute, unquestioning, unconditional obedience. And you are professing to have this commitment for a carpenter who has been dead for thousands of years, if he even existed at all. This sounds rather like Divine Command Theory. And the Nuremberg Defense.

    One can be loyal to someone, or something, without doing so unconditionally. One can join an army while reserving the right to refuse to obey illegal orders. One can commit to a spouse without having to cover up their crimes.

  • I think it’s been more like 20 years since I thought about the Pledge long enough to be aware that, as a Christian, I had no business saying it.

    One key thing was the best answer I could come up with to “what is it, exactly, that I’d be pledging? What is this ‘allegiance’ thing?” which made me look it up in my American Heritage dictionary.

    The more ancient definition was “the obligation of a vassal to his overlord,” doubly emphasized by the root of ‘allegiance’ being ‘liege,’ as in one’s liege lord.

    Lord, you say? Um, I’ve already got one, thanks. And I don’t find any wisdom in giving some piece of that obligation or loyalty that belongs to Him to an earthly nation.

    It should be enough that I love this crazy country, and will do what I can to make it a better place.

    But obviously my ultimate allegiance must be to the Lord. And has it ever been a compliment to say of someone that s/he has ‘divided allegiances’? No; it’s an indication that such a person should be regarded with suspicion, as unreliable. So why give some allegiance to anything else?

    One response I’ve heard is that we all have multiple allegiances. To one’s spouse and children, for instance.

    But that’s different. I was called into marriage, called into parenthood as well. I won’t say it was about obedience, so much as my will and the Lord’s will being the same. But that co-incidence wasn’t just an added blessing; it was a necessity. That this is what I am called to, means that there’s no question that doing what is right in my relationships with my wife and son will also be doing what is right in my relationship with the Lord.

    Being called in a particular direction is a big deal in my life when it happens. Sixty years into this life, and forty-four years as a Christian, and the number of times it’s happened to me is in the high single digits. Suffice it to say I haven’t been called into a particular relation with any worldly powers, and that includes the U.S. of A. I have not been called to any such allegiance, so I really shouldn’t be pledging it, nor will I.

    • But ultimate allegiance needn’t mean only allegiance, and there is more than one type of Lord. All ordered societies are built upon obligations that the citizens of that society have to the society (substitute country here if you’d like).

      To go back to medieval terms, if you were a landowner in England, let’s say, you had at least two “lords” — your local earl and/or duke, and the King. And even the King could call another King his “lord” in certain circumstances — for example the King of England could do homage to the King of France as his Lord for Brittany or Aquitaine. If you’ve ever served in the military, your commanding office is, in effect, a lord over you. As long as they don’t demand to be worshiped, or command you to do something in conflict with your faith, then obedience is expected and given.

      You say that someone wiith a ‘divided allegiance’ should be regarded with suspicion, as unreliable — but I’ll tell you the truth, if you are someone who has lived under the blessings provided by our country for your whole life, and yet profess no allegiance to it, then I am suspicious of you.

      Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s and there are things that a citizen owes their country. I’m sorry that you evidently don’t feel the same.

        • Well, let’s see. Jesus had a treasurer, he carried money, so he made sure his (the group’s money) was cared for, he financed his ministry with money that was largely donated by others. Should he have just thrown the moneybag down?

          Can you love both your wife and Jesus? And can you love your wife without giving any allegiance to her at all?

      • “Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s”

        Yes, he did. And by that he meant that all things were created by God, including Caesar, and that therefore all things are God’s and nothing is Caesar’s.

  • Not even a nod to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this post?

    They had pretty much worked out everything you wrote above eighty years ago or so.

  • Due to my age, I was taught the Pledge without the added “under God” bit, I do not recite those 2 words when I pledge. It was a totally unnecessary addition. I have often wondered just whose god one would be referring to—a Christian god or a Jewish god etc.

    • Yes…! Same here. As a child I learned the pledge without “under God ” and was always irritated about disturbing the rhythm of the original pledge. Later I learned it was inserted as a result of the overtly anti-communist fervor of the fifties in a fit of false patriotism.

      I believe it was intended as a secular pledge as written by its minister author, so I never say ‘under God in protest…! Besides objecting to the same being on our money, I do, however, spend the money reluctantly.

  • Agreed, and thank you. My religious communities (Quaker and Franciscan) agree with you as well.

    As for being “sworn in” as a witness or juror, I simply wait till the person administering the oath finishes and say “I so affirm” and I’ve never even received a funny look as commentary. Occasionally someone notices that I haven’t raised my right hand and looks a bit worried, but they always relax when I’ve affirmed that I will do as is expected. I assume it’s because they now gave a proper pigeonhole to file me in, “religious objector” rather than “troublemaker of uncertain type.”

    • When I was called for jury duty, there was a mass swearing-in, so I was able to remain silent without anyone noticing, but I given the whole concept of “silence equal consent”, I’m rather uncomfortable with that response. In that situation, one really only has three options. One is to say “so help me God”. Another is to remain silent, in which case one will be assumed to have said it. While one taking this option is technically left free to not say it, the effect is basically the same as if one had said it. The third option is to speak up and make a spectacle of oneself. No one should have to choose between these three options.

  • For the record I do not say the Pledge either. The insertion of “under god” between “one nation, indivisible” ended up dividing us in really unfortunate and unnecessary ways. Since the Pledge cannot be a requirement by law, I choose not to spout theocratic nonsense.

  • The question that I have is whether or not you would require others to align themselves with your version of religion? We make laws that need to apply across the board. We require vaccines in many places, violating some faiths. Life saving medicine like blood transfusions can be required of doctors and EMTs, regardless of personal faith. I’m inclined to require pharmacists to dispense prescriptions without veto power over the doctor/patient relationship. There was almost a situation in 2002/2003 when the Vatican was considering calling Iraq an unjust war (a mortal sin), which regardless of your opinion would have placed military Catholics into choosing between faith and their legally and morally binding oath to their country during time of war (cowardess, failure to obey orders, failure to deploy… Some of those are capital crimes during war).
    .
    Where does your opinion of your faith stop? Would you require church attendance? Would you outlaw divorce or cohabitation? Would you allow or prohibit plural marriage? Laws are important. When religious faith is free, the law cannot favor any particular faith over the rights of others. Are preachers on Sunday more powerful than the judge in a courtroom?

  • I made an oath to my wife, “forsaking all others.” That was an oath of sorts. Would that be either dishonest, or idolatry in some form? I think not.
    “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, render unto God that which is God’s.”
    My priorities are God, Country, and family (#2 and #3 often compete for attention and placement).
    God is first, and the true master.
    Country and family I serve, as Christ taught me to serve.
    As a military man, God is first. I would disobey an order that is contrary to God’s conviction. I.e. to shoot an unarmed child, etc. Because God is the master, not my country.
    Just because I serve my country, does not make it my master. I serve my wife, I serve my community, yet neither are my masters.

    • “I would disobey an order that is contrary to God’s conviction.”

      More precisely, you would disobey any order that is contrary to what you believe to be God’s conviction. Given that “Things people believe are contrary to God’s conviction” include/have included such things as gay rights and the abolition of slavery, this is not a position that I find very comforting. A indoctrinated into believing is not a country I feel safe in.

  • “…render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God.”
    “My kingdom is not of this earth…”
    Those statements seem to at least complicate if not contradict your thesis.
    What do you think?

    • Not at all, in fact, it confirms them. My allegiance does not belong to Caesar, it belongs to God, so I cannot give it to Caesar.

      Secondly, Jesus did say his kingdom wasn’t of this world which is all the more reason to not give my allegiance to a kingdom that is of this world.

      • Or another way to put it might be: All my earthly allegiances, including that to my country, are subordinate to my allegiance to God’s Kingdom. Earthly loyalties are conditional, our loyalty to God is absolute.
        I also have trouble with pledging allegiance to an object (the flag). Sounds kinda like idolatry to me.

  • Your making a pledge to TWO things: 1. “to the flag”, I.e., to the piece of cloth, and 2. “to the republic for which it stands”. Don’t glaze over the first part. It’s serious. Pledging your allegiance to inanimate objects is very often spoken against in Scriptures as idolatry.

  • I leave the Pledge of Allegiance issue up to each person: I will not call their Christian practice into question if they recite it. In my case, I will omit “under God” from it.

  • I am reminded of the example of Daniel. He would not bow to idols and refrained from defiling his body, but he did serve the kings and countries (plural) that he served under. He did so without hesitation and with great honor and respect. We do serve God when we are serving our country (even if you are in exile) as all countries are under the direction of God. This does not mean that when we serve we can dishonoring God either. It is a fine line to be sure, but I don’t believe God feels dishonored if you pledge to serve the country He formed either.

  • This goes way beyond the Pledge of Allegiance. Now we’re getting into the Quaker territory to be sure. If a Christian cannot make this pledge, neither can a Christian join the military. The enlistment oath and the oath of office for commissioned officers have even more exacting language.

    For example, here is the oath I swore when I was commissioned in the US Coast Guard Reserve:

    “I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and
    defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,
    foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the
    same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation
    or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge
    the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    Note the same taking of an allegiance but with the added caveat of “true faith” and even further, “I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion.”

    This oath is not optional. It is required by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. There are two optional elements: One can “swear (or affirm).” And one is not obligated to use the phrase, “So help me God.”

    So where to now? A Christian cannot join the US military. We don’t have to discuss the concept of a “Just War.” Nor do we have to figure out the morality of a Christian participating in the military war efforts to protect the innocent. The oath alone precludes our participation.

    Having served for 25 years, 6+ in the USAF including a time in Vietnam and 18+ in the USCG doing more “domestic” and life saving kinds of things, this presents a problem in two ways:

    1. Even though I am retired, I still carry a USCG Commission (as is true of all commissioned officers). It is not true for enlisted personel or warrant officers.
    2. The USCG is one of our armed forces and becomes a part of the US Navy in time of war.

    Where do we draw the ethical/theoretical/practical lines?

    • However, in a vein similar to your article, I cannot stomach the idea of “Proud to be an American.”

      Rather, I am grateful to have been born here and to have the privileges of freedom of worship and others.

      • But….that’s what it means to be an American. A citizen of the first country on earth to be founded on these principles. Nothing wrong with being proud of that.

        • Sorry, Steve. There is no reason to be proud of a nation that was “founded on these principles” once that nation has abandoned those principles.

          I don’t think being an American is defined by being proud of our country. I’d rather think that being an American is defined by something like, “My country, right or wrong. But, if it’s, wrong—fix it.”

          I am still under the oath I swore above: to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,
          foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

          You’ll notice a subtlety of that oath that differs from the Pledge: by that oath, my allegiance is not to this country nor is it to the flag. It is to the “Constitution of the United States.”

          Given the language of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, I believe my oath—as well as other military personnel oaths—can stand under my ultimate allegiance to Christ.

          • I never said that “being an American is defined by being proud of our country”. It’s obvious that many Americans are not proud of their country. Michelle Obama, for example, famously said she was never truly proud of this country until her husband was nominated for President.

            I understand what you’re saying about the oath to the Constitution rather than to the country, but I still think that to a certain extent that is splitting hairs. The Constitution is what defines our country, not the behavior of people who live under it. If I’m proud of our Constitution, then I’m proud to be an American.

            • What you said in response to my comment about not liking the phrase “proud of my country” was, “But….that’s what it means to be an American.”

              I’m not sure I see any substantive difference between “that’s what it means to be an American” and “being an American is defined by being proud of our country.”

              All that is beside the main point of this piece: oaths and the allegiance required by those oaths.

              So I return to the main discussion and assert that the objections to the Pledge have a much wider implication when we consider that oaths of allegiance that are a mainstay of critical organizations including the US Senate, US House of Representatives, the Vice President, the Supreme Court Justices (they have a choice between two oaths) and the military to name a few.

              All swear allegiance to the US Constitution.

              The President swears an oath specified by the Constitution itself:

              I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

              Interestingly, the oath of office for the President does not include any reference to allegiance to anything.

              Again, if a Christian cannot, in good conscience before Christ, take the Pledge of Allegiance, neither can a Christian serve in any of those offices so named above.

    • The oath you cited is to the Constitution, not to generals or the President or to Congress. Provided that you do not see a contradiction between loyalty to God and the Constitution, then you’d be in the clear to resist government entities that you see contrary to the Constitution. The Constitution does not ask us to kill anyone, so you could technically join the military and refuse to kill based upon your rendering of the Constitution.

      For my own part, I would now become a conscientious objectors if called to the military, for the military is clearly premised on resolving conflicts through violence and killings. This goes against my religious and ethical beliefs.

      As a Christian, I cannot affirm that there is such a thing as a just war. All war is violent and thus incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. Jesus would not go to war. He’d rather die than kill.

  • It helps me to remember that the root of the word “allegiance” is liege… lord.

    I’ll pledge my allegiance to the Lamb, not to an earthly country.

  • I completely agree with not being able to not being able to pledge allegiance to both God and country. In my understanding of the word allegiance it means exactly that that to which pledge has your undivided loyalty, and you will do what he/she/it requires of you. Pledging allegiance to a second power is an act of treason to the first, unless you are quite certain that the second power would never ask you to do something that contradicted the wishes of the first.

    I beg to differ on the oath part, though. I think an oath and an pledge are very different. In an oath, you are stating that the power by which you swear will punish you if what you say isn’t true, or that the one receiving the oath can take that by which you swear if your statement turns out to be false. (I remember being told that the Greeks or the Romans used to put their hand on their crotch and swear by their testicles.) So Jesus is telling his disciples to be truth tellers all the time, with no need for oaths to say “now I’m really telling the truth”. And to swear on oath by God I would claim is rather presumptuously telling God what to do.

    • Pardon me, but I think everyone is taking the idea of “allegiance” way too far. It means loyalty to something. I’m loyal to a lot of things, wife, friends, family, country, certain ideals, and God, among others.

      When I pledge allegiance to “the Republic for which it stands”, I know what that Republic stands for. It is written in the Constitution, and that document does not conflict with my Christian beliefs. If tomorrow we amended the Constitution in a radical way, then it would no longer be the same Republic, and my pledge would no longer be in effect.

      I think everyone is straining at a gnat here.

  • Interestingly, I was at a Kiwanis luncheon two days ago with my brother-in-law and they said the pledge. I did not. It was a bit awkward as I stood there respectfully without putting my hand on my heart or saying anything. I decided almost a decade ago that I would not pledge allegiance to the flag but never really was in a situation where it was an issue until two days ago (and when I had jury duty).

    Anyways, glad to hear there are others out there who agree with me.

  • Amen. I made the same point a few years back, though you have articulated far better than I did. My main thrust isn’t merely on the allegiance, but as you alluded to, words have meaning. If you don’t mean what you say, then why say it? We teach our kids that words are important. What we say and how we say it are important. And the Pledge is not something to take lightly. We’ve talked about it with our kids for years, and it even came up again last week. They prompted it. And I found they are quite wise and understand the significance of what you say and what it means to make a pledge to a flag made by man and a country/government made by man.

  • I have had some hesitancy in saying the Pledge of Allegiance recently…along with putting my hand over my heart for the national anthem. I think some of it has to do with reasons you’ve stated here but I think there are some other issues as well. I’ve felt very alone in my feelings and very self-conscious about them. So you’ve given me some permission here and I really appreciate that.

  • I love your blog but you lost me here…Several places in the Bible clearly state that we are to embrace the country’s we live (Roman’s, Hebrews, and several minor prophets to be specific)…the Roman’s example was written during a time when the church was being severely persecuted. Having a government that maintains order allows us, among other things, to achieve our mission. That doesn’t mean that we should “worship” our country as one of the earlier posters has eluded, it also doesn’t mean that we support those aspects that are counter to our beliefs, but we should be productive members of the societies that we live and (to paraphrase Mark Twain) support the country/government when it deserves it.

    • I think you may have misunderstood my point– I certainly am not advocating that we not be productive members of society. In fact, I’ve dedicated my life to being the opposite.

      Also, refraining from the pledge doesn’t mean we can’t love or embrace our country– I do. But I also embrace my neighbor’s country and even my enemy’s country. However, on a theological note, I’d gently push back and note that biblically we’re actually called to live as immigrants and pilgrims– people who aren’t at home.

      I’m all for being a good citizen, and all for loving our country– I just can’t make a promise that I will always be loyal or that this present country will have my allegiance. I am an immigrant in this earthly kingdom, and there are certain things that immigrants don’t do in their host country. One of which, is place my hand over my heart and pledge myself to give my allegiance to her. I must reserve that only for God’s Kingdom.

      Hope that helps.

      • It helps…wish you had included those points a little more clearly in the article…maybe I missed it…

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

        ——– Original message ——–From: Disqus Date:05/20/2014 10:42 PM (GMT-05:00) To: bobby.scott@sc.rr.com Subject: Re: New comment posted on Why Christians Might Want To Abstain From Reciting “ The Pledge Of Allegiance”  Settings

        A new comment was posted on Formerly Fundie

        Benjamin L. Corey

        I think you may have misunderstood my point– I certainly am not advocating that we not be productive members of society. In fact, I’ve dedicated my life to being the opposite. Also, refraining from the pledge doesn’t mean we can’t love or embrace our country– I do. But I also embrace my neighbor’s country and even my enemy’s country. However, on a theological note, I’d gently push back and note that biblically we’re actually called to live as immigrants and pilgrims– people who aren’t at home. I’m all for being a good citizen, and all for loving our country– I just can’t make a promise that I will always be loyal or that this present country will have my allegiance. I am an immigrant in this earthly kingdom, and there are certain things that immigrants don’t do in their host country. One of which, is place my hand over my heart and pledge myself to give my allegiance to her. I must reserve that only for God’s Kingdom. Hope that helps.
        10:41 p.m., Tuesday May 20

        Reply to Benjamin L. Corey

        Benjamin L. Corey’s comment is in reply to bobbyscott:

        I love your blog but you lost me here…Several places in the Bible clearly state that we are to embrace the country’s we … Read more
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        • He actually did make those points quite clearly in the original article. There’s no need to go on chiding an author when he’s kindly explained himself to you again.

          • ??? I think I said I may have missed the point in my response…did I miss something??? Second, I didn’t chide him, merely that I didn’t follow his argument THIS TIME. Shesh!

      • Well said. I think your point about living as immigrants and pilgrims has profound implications. All the Earth is God’s, and we are but sojourners on it. We do not own it or even rule it. We are called as stewards to care for it, and for each other — all of us, regardless of political demarcations.

  • There’s a reason why so many Christians were put to death in ancient Rome, not so much because they were Christian but because they refused to bow and worship Caesar as a god. American Christianity is downright neutered in comparison. “A Pledge of Allegiance? Sure, why not. But let’s shoehorn ‘under God’ in there to make it more acceptable”

    • Our allegiance to militarism and the support of our troops is hardly a neutered version of loyalty to Caesar. When our troops tortured and sexually abused prisoners, our nation condemned and silenced those who spoke out against these atrocities. When our country chooses to go to war, we complicitly follow its lead like automatons. Militarism has become our god. Along with nationalism and patriotism.

      I may well be thrown out of my church for not standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance — in church nonetheless. It has not mattered that I cited the 1st Commandment and Jesus’ own words about serving two masters to explain why I would not pledge my allegiance to the flag and the USA during a worship service supposedly honoring God alone. We might have well had a golden calf displayed on the altar. The flag does not belong in worship and certainly the Pledge does not. Both are idolatry.

  • A Christian should certainly consider why they’re doing what they’re doing and act according to their own conscience, but we must also be cautious about judging another Christians liberty either way.
    If we are to ‘love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king..’ , then I would suggest that the pledge for many simply falls into the category of honoring the king.
    If to another it feels like a violation of Jesus’ commands, than they certainly should abstain, with their fellow Christians support, and without judgement passed either way.

      • I don’t mean to call you out on your own blog, but….

        1. Suggesting that Christians who recite the Pledge are either disobeying Jesus’ commands or are being dishonest IS passing judgment, even if you prettied up your writing with words like “might.”

        2. I don’t think you should apologize for passing judgment as long as you aren’t suggesting that Pledge-reciters are heretics or bound for hell (you clearly did neither thing). Christians should be allowed to hold strong opinions.

    • ” then I would suggest that the pledge for many simply falls into the category of honoring the king.”

      To insist that all Americans be subservient to Christianity does not “simply [fall] into the category of honoring the king”, it falls under the category of being a bigoted jackass. If one wishes to “honor your king” there are plenty of ways of doing that other than insulting atheists.

      “than they certainly should abstain, with their fellow Christians support, and without judgement passed either way.”

      One should not pass judgment on people who do something that exists purely to insult atheists, and which contradicts their own putative religion?

      Also, “then”, not “than”.

        • You are seriously so wrapped up in Chbeistian proivilege that you’re going to pretend that the pledge isn’t a giant middle finger to atheists? What’s next, are you going to ask that someone explain to you why “nigger” is offensive? The fact that you have so little empathy for atheists that you can’t see how it’s offensive is itself offensive. And while I have not given a full account of all the ways that it offensive, you are responding to a post making note of it saying that Americans should be subservient to Christianity. The obvious thing would be to either dispute that it gives such a message, or to dispute that such a message is offensive.

          • I’ve said American’s should be subservient to Christianity? I’m thinking you didn’t read the original post. I’m anti-pledge.

            I have so little empathy for atheists? You’re obviously unfamiliar with this blog- it’s one of the most atheist friendly Christian blogs on the internet with a large atheist following. You should take some time to get to know it, and get to know some of the people who frequent here, before making such assumptions.

            • I think that a careful reading of my post shows that in “it saying that Americans should be subservient to Christianity”, “it” clearly referred to the pledge, not to you.

              Just because you have more empathy than extreme right wingers does not mean that you have sufficient empathy. Making black people live under Jim Crow is better than making them live under slavery, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Jesus said “Love your enemy”, not “Be one of the least hateful of your group”. I don’t remember anything in the Bible about grading on a curve. 97% of Cranston residents voted for a guy who called a girl “an evil little thing” because she objected to a school prayer banner. “One of the most atheist friendly Christian” is a ridiculously low bar. So you don’t think atheists are agents of Satan bent of the destruction of America. What, you want a cookie?

              I characterized your lack of understanding how the pledge is insulting as lacking empathy. That is not an “assumption”. That is a conclusion drawn from facts.

              • Stop.

                Just….stop.

                Mr. Corey is a Christian who wrote an article directed at Christians meant to give advice to Christians. Your frothing at the mouth (combined with your appalling spelling) does not make Mr. Corey the bigot you so desperately want him to be. All Mr. Corey is guilty of is advising his fellow Christians that there may be theological reasons to avoid saying the Pledge of Allegiance. That. Is. It. Whether or not the Pledge is meant to demean atheists is not the point of the article or the discussion and it is boorish of you to demand it to be. If you want to add your own perspective on how parts of the Pledge discriminate against atheist citizens, that is fine, but your fellow atheists expect you to behave like an adult if you do.

                And, speaking in my capacity as one of the most virulently angry atheists out there, Mr. Corey’s blog IS one of the most atheist-friendly religious blogs on the internet. There are two Christian blogs where I know I can freely express my views without the mod dismissing or banning me for being an atheist. This is one (the other is Rachel Held Evans). Your comparison of Ben to the Jim Crow south is both uncharitable and detrimental to your awkwardly phrased arguments.

                • Your frothing at the mouth (combined with your appalling spelling)

                  I have calmly brought to other posters’ attention the way that they are ignoring the offensive nature of the pledge. That you simply dismiss opposition to bigotry as simply “frothing at the mouth” shows you to be a horrible person. And to top it off, you stoop to insulting me based on a few typos. I could have corrected my “appalling spelling” if I had remembered to do spell check, but you being an appalling human being is rather harder to fix.

                  Also, you’ve now opened yourself to nitpicking your every misspelling. For instance, in another thread, you misspelled “whose”. And I think that this is likely not a typo, but you simply not knowing the difference between “who’s” and “whose”. I, on the other had, am quite aware that “Chbeistian “ is not the correct spelling, and had my computer not been acting up, I would have noticed and corrected it.

                  does not make Mr. Corey the bigot you so desperately want him to be.

                  I said that he lacks empathy, not that he is a bigot.

                  All Mr. Corey is guilty of is advising his fellow Christians that there may be theological reasons to avoid saying the Pledge of Allegiance. That. Is. It.

                  Corey flatly denied that the pledge insults atheists. So, no, advising Christians of theological considerations is blatantly not all he did, so you’re just posting bullshit.

                  Whether or not the Pledge is meant to demean atheists is not the point of the article

                  I would think that anyone who isn’t a complete asshole should think that whether the pledge is insulting is relevant to any discussion of whether it should be said.

                  and it is boorish of you to demand it to be.

                  What do mean, demanding it be? I have simply brought the issue up. Bringing up an issue you don’t want to talk about is “boorish”? Trying muzzle anyone who has a criticism is boorish.

                  If you want to add your own perspective on how parts of the Pledge discriminate against atheist citizens, that is fine, but your fellow atheists expect you to behave like an adult if you as do.

                  Bullshit. Your entire basis for your accusation of immaturity is the mere fact that I have added my own perspective.You throw around the phrase “frothing at the mouth”, you mischaracterize the discussion, you criticize me for daring to present my view, and you say *I* need to behave like an adult?

                  And, speaking in my capacity as one of the most virulently angry atheists out there, Mr. Corey’s blog IS one of the most atheist-friendly religious blogs on the internet.

                  That’s a dangling modifier, Mr. I-Like-To-Score-Points-By-Pointing-Out-Spelling-Mistakes.

                  There are two Christian blogs where I know I can freely express my views without the mod dismissing or banning me for being an atheist.

                  How you were able to write this without realizing that you are making exactly my point, I don’t understand. That Corey lacks one fault hardly means that we should give him blanket immunity from criticism regarding any other faults.

                  To not ban atheists is something that is of such basic level of decency that we should not be lauding someone for doing so. That this is one of two blogs that doesn’t ban atheists is not a credit to this blog, but a debit to the other blogs. Whether intentional or not, Corey is participating in an egregious “good cop/bad cop” routine. Most Christians are wildly bigoted against atheists, so when a Christian comes along who doesn’t say, ban every atheist, we’re expected to fall over ourselves with gratitude. Bullshit. I’m not going to be grateful for being treated with basic human dignity. The very fact that you seriously consider “He doesn’t ban atheists” as meaningful praise just shows how much need there is to fight anti-atheist attitudes.

                  Your comparison of Ben to the Jim Crow south is both uncharitable and detrimental to your awkwardly phrased arguments.

                  I didn’t compare Ben to Jim Crow. I made an assertion (“Just because you have more empathy than extreme right wingers does not mean that you have sufficient empathy”) and then presented an extreme example to illustrate that claim more clearly. You clearly are severely lacking in reading comprehension.

                    • I referred to the pledge as insulting to atheists. You replied to this by saying that you don’t see anyone bashing atheists. The clear implication is you were asserting that the pledge is not insulting to atheists.

  • “If one is not prepared to actually give their solemn allegiance to the country “for which it stands” above all else, then one should not make that commitment in the first place.”

    I hate to be the outlier here, but I don’t think the Pledge of Allegiance states or implies one must swear solemn allegiance “above all else.” The spirit of it, regardless of its origins, is to pledge allegiance to an ideal – a nation of people committed to liberty and justice (note that I do not believe the US meets this ideal).

    I have a serious question, though. When Jesus told his disciples they should not swear oaths, do you think he meant you should not swear an oath to anyone but Christ or you should not swear an oath in a way that makes something other than Christ equivalent or superior to him?

    It seems to me that most (if not all) people are devoted to things other than Christ, but good (whatever that means) Christians just devote themselves to Christ above all else. That is, I would say I am devoted to my wife and child even though I haven’t recited a pledge saying so. That doesn’t mean Christ isn’t first and being a good husband and father certainly do not conflict with Christian values.

    Do you think Christ would object to that, or would he object only if my devotion to my family was equal or superior to my devotion to him? If the latter is true, I would think pledging allegiance to an ideal that overlaps with some of what Christians are called to do (e.g., promote liberty and justice) wouldn’t be a big deal, so long as one’s devotion to that ideal does not supersede one’s devotion to Christ.

    • Well written and I agree — but I would point out one thing. I would wager that you have recited a pledge stating your devotion to your wife, and made some promises too. Wedding vows?

      • pledge, promise and pledge of allegiance do not all mean the same thing. Allegiance has had many meanings, some more binding that others, and perhaps those of us who object are harking back to the definition that described the absolute faithfulness of subject to monarch.

  • Agreed. Entirely. I became aware of this issue in 2004 during Memorial Day and July 4th weekends at church. I wondered why the congregation was singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” — of all songs — during a “worship” service. My worldview changed that year on such issues as national allegiance and the marriage of right-wing politics and the Christian religion.

  • This is a really interesting take on the Pledge and on oaths in general. When performing jury duty, testifying in court, and taking oaths of office, the person is always given the option “do you solemnly swear or affirm…?” and I think I would be much more comfortable with the “or affirm” option.

    Also, as a devout Christian, there are few things I would love more than to see “under God” removed from the Pledge. I have never said the Pledge with those two words and I never will. We are one nation, indivisible. Connecting religion and nationalism is dangerous and terrifying, and it shouldn’t be encouraged in any way. It’s a favorite trick of right-wing Evangelicals and, as “unfundamentalist” Christians, we should be very wary of any “City on a Hill” type rhetoric.

    • Agreed. Even the placement of “under God” within the Pledge is atrocious. Why would someone want to separate “one nation” from “indivisible”?

    • I somewhat agree, but at the same time, when the framers wrote the Declaration of Independence and rejected the idea that rights were granted by kings or governments, they understood that they had to come from somewhere. Their answer? They came from the Creator. Our whole philosophy of government is based on this idea — that rights are endowed by God, and not to be taken away by men.

      • If TJ had wanted to say that rights come from God, why did he not say “God”? I think that with as deliberative person as TJ, and as heavily considered document as the DoI, we should not be playing equivocation games. TJ almost certainly avoided saying “God” because TJ made a conscious, deliberate decision that the word “God” did not properly convey his position. You may consider “God” and “Creator” to be synonymous, but that does not give you license to re-write TJ’s words according to your beliefs.

        Also, this is one word in a document that has no official force. To claim that “our whole philosophy of government” is based on this is absurd.

        Furthermore, the framers believed lots of things. They believed that slavery was acceptable and that women shouldn’t vote. Do you think that all of their bigotry should be celebrated, or just their bigotry in this one area?

        In summary, it’s clear that you are simply making excuses for your bigoted desire to insult atheists.

        • Are you honestly saying that you believe that in Jefferson’s (and the founders…others critiqued his document) mind, “the Creator” was non synonomous with God?

          If so, I think you’re kidding yourself.

        • And let me add something: throwing mud is not the same as discussion. I haven’t said a word against agnostics or atheists. Calling someone a bigot is a shorthand way of saying you don’t have any other argument than calling me a name. For the founders to state their belief in God is not bigotry, any more than it is for you to state your non-belief.

          I’m saying that the ultimate source of our rights, in the minds of the people who produced and signed the document, was the Creator, which is synonymous with God. That is historical record and beyond dispute.

          Whether or not you believe in God, and how our society should weigh the sensibilities and sensitivities of atheists vs people of religion, is another question.

          • “And let me add something: throwing mud is not the same as discussion.”

            Criticism is not the same thing as throwing mud.

            “I haven’t said a word against agnostics or atheists.”

            Riiiight. You haven’t said anything against atheists. Just said that they lack belief in that on which our entire government is based. How could an atheists possibly be insulted by the idea that our government would collapse if atheists were in charge?

            “Calling someone a bigot is a shorthand way of saying you don’t have any other argument than calling me a name.”

            Criticism, along with not being the same thing as throwing mud, is not the same thing as calling people names. The fact that you are putting more effort into arguing that I shouldn’t say anything that hurts your feelings that actually arguing that they are not accurate says something about the strength of your position.

            “For the founders to state their belief in God is not bigotry”

            I didn’t say that stating a belief in God is bigotry, liar. I said that saying that belief in God is the central principle of our government is bigotry.

            “I’m saying that the ultimate source of our rights, in the minds of the people who produced and signed the document, was the Creator, which is synonymous with God. That is historical record and beyond dispute.”

            The word “God” conveys meanings that “Creator” that does not convey, or does not convey nearly as strongly. I find it highly likely Jefferson made a deliberate choice to avoid the word “God” due to the theological baggage that it carries. The “historical record” shows that Jefferson didn’t even agree with mainstream religion, let alone think that it was the source of rights.

            Also, you said ” Our whole philosophy of government is based on this idea”, yet you’re basing that on a document that is not an official government document, and ignoring the fact that the Constitution doesn’t mention God at all.

            “Whether or not you believe in God, and how our society should weigh the sensibilities and sensitivities of atheists vs people of religion, is another question.”

            How our society should weigh the sensibilities of atheists, and whether atheism is incompatible with our entire philosophy of government, are hardly separate issues.

      • But who’s deity were they giving credit to? Who’s god do they blame when those same rights are taken from them?

  • I’m afraid the Pledge of Allegiance is one of those cultural things that I don’t understand as a Canadian especially the part about pledging allegiance to the flag. But then again we do sing God Save the Queen. Although I always just stand quietly and mentally sing the Sex Pistols version in my head. I do agree that Christians should not swear oaths, even though I love my country.

    • Granted I don’t know the lyrics very well, but I feel like “God Save the Queen” is at least somewhat a different beast. Instead of pledging one’s allegiance to a nation, one is asking God’s protection over an individual. Said individual is a national leader, but still, it feels different to me.

    • I’ve long thought that having a pledge of allegiance was un-American. It should be doubly unappealing for Christians.

  • I, too, have questioned the Pledge of Allegiance in the last few years. I think it was after I read Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation” when I stopped saying it. I haven’t made a stink about it yet but I don’t say it at school functions with my children or the sometimes at a church service on 4th of July occasions. I’m sure people notice, but so far nobody has approached me about it yet.

  • What’s really interesting is that the pledge started as ad copy to sell flags. I have not recited the pledge in years, I stand respectfully, but that’s about it. I believe in letting my actions speak for themselves, I’ve seen how easy it is for people to recite a pledge, then turn right around and vote for things that go against any kind of definition of liberty or justice.

  • First, I think, being a god citizen falls under “Give unto Caesar the things tat are Caesar’s and unto Got the things that are God’s”.

    Perhaps the words of Ray Botlz’s song are appropriate:

    I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
    With all my strength, with all I am
    I will seek to honor His commands
    I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

    Read more: Ray Boltz – I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb Lyrics | MetroLyrics
    http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-pledge-allegiance-to-the-lamb-lyrics-ray-boltz.html

  • You are sounding downright Anabaptist in this post. One of the many reasons I remain a Mennonite in my heart and soul (though attend a Quaker church) is because of their conviction that we can not pledge allegiance to country and to God simultaneously, and that a Christian’s allegiance must be to God. This has gotten Mennonites in deep trouble at different points in our nation’s history, though their conviction remains. Thanks for a good post.

  • Excellent as always, sir. Thank you for engaging Christ and culture with honesty and humility (most of the time /kidding). Be blessed.

  • I’ve often had thoughts like these, though you really called us out about being dishonest, love words that convict! At a children’s event the other day I didn’t put my hand on my heart and kinda mumbled during the pledge….so what will you do in that situation? Remain sitting? Be silent? Step out of the room? How do we live this out? I’ve always hated that our church with several children from other countries does the pledge before a program but I see that I should hate it for our American kids too.

    • My husband holds to this conviction, and is on our city’s school board. He (and another Quaker on the board) stand for the pledge, out of respect, but they do not say the pledge. No one has questioned them or challenged this practice.

    • My advice is to simply be respectful. If everyone stands, then stand and remain quiet and respectful. No need to leave the room- just quietly and respectfully abstain from participating. My daughter recently decided to no longer say it, and she simply stands respectfully and remains quiet while the others say it.

      • You’re right. No need to make a statement by stomping out or having a tantrum. No need to be disrespectful. Just honor your convictions. Very well-said.

        • There is no need to make a statement against bigotry, or even be disrespectful of bigotry? What a horrible attitude your have.

      • Sounds reasonable. Like when I’m at church, and they play songs with words like “I’m garbage, but God killed Jesus in my place.” I stand and don’t sing. And wonder how much longer I can continue to go to that church.

      • This is what I do too. No one’s ever questioned me about it, but if they were to ask why I don’t say the pledge I’d love to see their reactions when I respond, “Because I’m a Christian.” Whaaa?

    • I’m a teacher but I have some issues with the Pledge. I stand at attention, because a veteran once chided me for sitting during the pledge considering how important the flag was to him, which I respect, but I never say it. Kids have never asked me about it though, so I haven’t gotten in trouble/come to the attention of the authorities

      • As a sub, I stand up and get the kids started if I can’t get one to lead it, then I don’t say it. I have been more and more uncomfortable with it all the time for years. Making young children recite it feels like indoctrination to me, too.

        • Another sub here: You wouldn’t believe the level of indoctrination in some schools. Many of the schools in my district require kids to say lengthy pledges to the school and such. It is VERY eerie.

          • Yep. One district I work in makes them recite the school mission statement. And the other makes them recite some sort of state testing mantra every day. Really bizarre and creepy.

        • And (as far as I know) no school ever informs kids that they are not required by law to say it. (A 1943 Supreme Court ruling supports this.)

        • I’ve heard that word “indoctrination” a lot. There’s nothing wrong with indoctrination — unless you believe that there is no system of values or beliefs that are more worthy of teaching to your children than any other. Down that path lies great danger.

          • Your statement makes sense only if you believe that there is no system of values or beliefs that can be passed on to a new generation without indoctrination. Down that path lies great danger.

      • “I stand at attention, because a veteran once chided me for sitting during the pledge considering how important the flag was to him, which I respect”

        That doesn’t make any sense. What bearing down the importance of the flag have on saying the pledge?

        • I don’t know. But it seems like a good compromise. Stand at attention, but not recite a spiel of vague indoctrination

          • I don’t believe in God. Other people do. A compromise is that the government not endorse either view. That the government endorses a particular view, but I not stand, is not a compromise, it’s the Christians getting their way. You’re falling for something called the “anchoring fallacy”: start out with a completely extreme position, then move to something slightly less extreme, and call it a “compromise”. Bullshit.

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