Nov
11

Should Christians cite the Pledge of Allegiance?

By

"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."

There are three holidays that cause otherwise sound-in-the-faith evangelical, conservative, and fundamentalist Christians to lose their religion.

I am referring to Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day.

One of these holidays doesn’t even have to fall on a Sunday for some churches to go wild with celebration.

Memorial Day, of course, is always observed on a Monday. The other two holidays only fall on a Sunday every seven or so years. But if one of them doesn’t happen to fall on a Sunday, the Sunday before the holiday will do just as well. In some years, like when the Fourth of July or Veterans Day occurs late in the week, the Sunday after the holiday is reserved by some churches for observation.

As if the blind nationalism, hymns to the state, and exaltation of the military that occurs in some churches on these Sundays isn’t bad enough, sometimes the festivities also include the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, in church, by the congregation, facing the flag on the platform. The Pledge is usually led by the pastor or a boy scout or veteran, sometimes in uniform.

This is not only unfortunate; it is an anti-biblical disgrace.

There are several reasons why no one that treasures liberty, is familiar with American history, and knows the history behind the Pledge (an ad campaign to sell magazines) would waste his time saying the Pledge. I want to focus on one of them.

There are also several reasons why Christians that treasure liberty, are familiar with American history, and know the history behind the Pledge (written by a socialist minister) would waste his time saying the Pledge. Again, I want to focus on one of them.

In 2000, an atheist sued his daughter’s school district because he said that the words "under God" in the Pledge amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. He lost.

After an appeal by the atheist parent, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2002 that the phrase in question was unconstitutional.

After an appeal by the school district, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the father of the child lacked standing to file the lawsuit because his daughter’s mother had sole legal custody of her and that she was not opposed to her daughter reciting the Pledge. The ruling of the appeals court was then reversed.

In 2010, the same federal appeals court upheld the words "under God" in the Pledge in another case, ruling that the phrase does not constitute an establishment of religion.

The idea that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is ludicrous. As stated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its 2010 ruling:

Not every mention of God or religion by our government or at the government’s direction is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

We hold that the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the Establishment Clause because Congress’ ostensible and predominant purpose was to inspire patriotism and that the context of the Pledge – its wording as a whole, the preamble to the statute, and this nation’s history – demonstrate that it is a predominantly patriotic exercise. For these reasons, the phrase "one Nation under God" does not turn this patriotic exercise into a religious activity.

However, just because the phrase "under God" in the Pledge doesn’t violate the Constitution doesn’t mean that it belongs in the Pledge or, more importantly, that Christians should recite the Pledge.

One reason why Christians should not recite the Pledge is a simple one, and one that has nothing to do with patriotism or religion.

The United States is not a nation "under God."

The United States is in fact about as far from being "under God" as any country on the planet.

The United States leads the world in the incarceration rate, the total prison population, the divorce rate, car thefts, rapes, total crimes, illegal drug use, legal drug use, and Internet pornography production.

At least the United States is second to Russia when it comes to abortions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, "nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion" and "twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion." There are over 1,700 abortion providers in the United States. And even worse, 37 percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28 percent as Catholic.

Only a madman would say that the United States is a nation "under God."

Oh, but the Pledge is just some words, some say, the reciting of which doesn’t really mean anything.

Then why say it? If the Pledge is just some words that don’t really mean anything, then it makes more sense not to say it than to say it.

The Pledge doesn’t say that the United States used to be one nation under God. It doesn’t say that the United States should be one nation under God. It says that the United States is one nation under God.

That is a lie.

Christians are not supposed to lie:

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9)

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25)

Thou shalt not bear false witness (Romans 13:9)

Is it unpatriotic to not say the Pledge? It may be. But it is certainly right, Christian, and biblical not to.

Categories : Articles
  • DavidS

    We’ve replaced the idolatry of the American Pledge with the pledge we use in our household:

    “I pledge allegiance to the cross of the revolution of King Jesus;
    And to the kingdom of God for which it stands,
    One people, under Christ, submitted to His will alone,
    With redemption and freedom for all creation.”

  • Anonymous

    Brother Laurence,

    I believe your rant on the one nation under God phrase reflects an improper interpretation of the words at hand and the Word of Scripture. 

    The Scriptural reality is that ALL nations are under God. This is true regardless of behavior. The Lord is Sovereign over all, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

    “Dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:27-28 (NIV)

    If we believe Scripture, that God rules over all nations, then all nations are “under God.” There is no proviso here that a nation can only be judged to be “under God” if its policies perfectly and consistently reflect God’s will. Nations are under God’s rule whether they recongize Him or not. We cannot opt out or negate God’s sovereignty. 

    If the straw man standard is that you can’t say you are “under God” unless you are in perfect, consistent harmony with God’s will, then no one is “under God” because “there is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) Every human fails every day and whether we are under grace or under law, we are all, individuals and nations, under God. 

    Leaving the strawman of perfection behind, the phrase “under God” is recognition that all nations are accountable to God. When a people accept that they are under God, they are affirming His sovereignty over them. 

    “All the nations will be gathered before him…” [to be judged]  Matthew 25:32a (NIV)

    We should take heart that the Founding Fathers and our founding documents recognize that our nation is “under God” in this way.

    From the Declaration of Independence, all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Since these rights are recognized as being from God, all nations are accountable to God for protecting these rights. 

    “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to obey His will.” – George Washington

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” – Thomas Jefferson

    In this context the more proper interpretation of the pledge is this… The pledge is to the republic, defined by a code of law recognizing Divine rights, to the United States forming one nation among all nations under God. 

    Every one of our individual 50 states recognizes the sovereignty of God. I particularly like the preamble to Colorado’s constitution, “We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe…” You can see similar verbiage from all 50 states here: http://college-ethics.blogspot.com/2010/07/we-people-sovereign-under-god.html

    More recently stated, “And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans. Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.” – Ronald Reagan, July 4, 1986

    Cannot that be our Christian pledge?

    Now it is true that most of our nation’s current policy is completely out of step with the above nice sounding words. What are we to do? I believe we need to be lights in a dark pagan world.

    “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

    Brother Laurence, I have been reading your writings for some time now, and while I have never found a single human being whose writings I agree with 100% of the time, yours are nearer to the top amongst a host of many. But I’ve noticed your writings becoming more strident of late. Now I understand the bitterness and disappointment that comes with the realization that our nation is becoming more “beastly” as it strays from its once virtuous heritage. Endless warmongering is something that should upset us deeply. But at some point we need to take care that the bitterness does not cloud sound judgment, that a negative tone does not overshadow the hopefulness characterized in the gospel message, that self rightness does not darken personal generosity. 

    Brother Laurence, my prayer that you put all the bitterness aside and promote peace with positive words from the Prince of Peace. Since you are not accountable to me but to the Almighty, I encourage your to seek Him in humility and ask for an attitude check. 

    Respectfully yours.

  • Ohrepublic

    I agree with Mr. Vance in his opposition to the Pledge of Allegiance. I have not recited it since 1990 for yet another reason. The United States of America is NOT “indivisible.” When all else fails, states have the right of secession. When the federal government breaks the compact that created it in the Constitution of the United States, the states have the right to preserve their liberty by rescinding their ratification of that compact.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, agreed. My biggest objection is the word “indivisible.” It’s an implication of federal power trumping states’ rights. The rights of nullification and session are necessary to preserving states rights. 

    Another objection is the “allegiance to the flag” phrase. I respect the flag but it’s just an inanimate object and thus not worthy of allegiance or worship. The redeeming feature though is the use of the word republic as opposed to democracy. 

    The concept of a republic entails a written law and ours supports natural rights. Recognition of God-given rights is an affirmation of God’s sovereignty over the governments of men, that the “kingdoms” of men are subservient to the Kingdom of God. Given world history, it is actually quite astounding for a government of men to start out by recognizing God given rights and that these rights are superior to man made laws. We should appreciate this and be thankful. Theologically this is much more significant than mere rules between man made government entities. The theological import of affirming mans divine relationship to God through natural rights is much more important from a Biblical perspective and worthy of support by Christians. 

    Proper interpretation requires a careful consideration of context. Consider the context that says we are many states forming one nation.Then add to that the concept that this nation is accountable to God. This is an assertion of our superior God given rights and our founding documents empower us and give us the ability to require that governments of men recognize those rights. The rights of nullification and secession are not negated by the mere sentiments of the pledge that we remain united, indivisible. Given this context and this interpretation there remains no valid reason that a Christian should be criticized for reciting the pledge. 

    But a spirit of criticism indeed is quite apparent in the article. And this criticism comes with Biblically incorrect statements about nations not being under God. The article seems more political than Christian. It states that only a “madman” would recognize that a nation is under God but this madman recognizes the authority of Scripture where it says that all nations are under God, “Dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:27-28 (NIV)

    The article asserts that no true Christian should recite the pledge. Given the Biblical ignorance I’ve pointed out, this smacks of the same spirit of ignorant redneck patriotism that supports ungodly wars which we oppose as being unchristian. 

    As Christians we should look forward to the realization of the Kingdom of God when, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15

    The fact that our founding documents support the Biblical concept that God’s laws are superior to mans and that we are “under God”  is something Christian should appreciate and affirm!!!!!

  • DavidS

    The ultimate question regarding Christians and the American Pledge is if a people who have pledged their allegiance to Christ can also pledge allegiance to any other thing, whether a state or something else. 

    Jesus statement in Matthew 6:24 alludes that it is impossible to give our allegiance to God and something else (in the context he uses money).  That being true, how can I say the American pledge without knowing that I cannot uphold the promise I’m making.

    Also, why would I ever pledge allegiance to a fallible system?

  • Anonymous

    Of course we’re under God.  We’re under God’s judgement. 

  • http://libertarianchristians.com Norman Horn

    I’d like to point out that the usages of the phrase “under God” in the comments here are slightly different than how Dr. Vance is using it. I don’t think Vance would ever in the slightest object to saying that anyone is outside of God’s judgment. Nor would he say that the American government is not under the same moral law as the rest of us. Governments do not receive special moral license just because they are governments.

    Nonetheless, the American government does not *act*, or *behave*, as though they truly are “under God”, not in the least! They do not behave as though God’s judgment is upon it, neither do they follow the moral law!

    In other words, I’m saying that the potential disagreements that seem to be arising here do not seem to be fundamentally opposed.

    Also, look out for Doug Stuart’s next post, which will attempt to elaborate a bit more…

  • Pingback: All Nations are “Under God” | LibertarianChristians.com

  • Nathan Barton

    Brother Vance, thank you for an excellent article.  I trust it was received well in Townhall.com and other places.  It deserves it.  Let me add my own thoughts.

    I grew up with christian parents who taught me that the Pledge was a statement of an ideal, not of a fact:  Given that, I do not feel they were lying, as bro. Vance discusses. They also taught me that this “allegiance” was secondary to my allegiance to God and conditional, as well.  (Unfortunately, they were both Unionists (despite their Texan origins and upbringing.) So, as with several of the other commenters, my first bone of contention, as I matured, was with the “indivisible” phrase.  Of course,even that can be seen as an ideal and not a claim or fact:  ideally, if the Federal Government recognizes its legitimate role as the agent or employee of the states, and if the states respect each other’s sovereignty, there is no need for separation. 

    I have not ever thought of the “under God” as being arrogant or a claim to superior status among the nations of the earth, but again, as a goal. A goal which we have somehow lost sight of, along with liberty and justice and even a republic. 

    I long ago gave up the “pledge salute” with its unpleasant connotations to Roman and National Socialist gestures, for the Scout and then the military salute: my privilege and obligation as a military officer my affirmation to the Constitution – a Constitution betrayed by Lincoln, Stanton, and Grant far more than any claim that Davis, Lee, or Jackson did. 

    But a few years ago, I learned of the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by the “Christian” Socialist, Francis Bellamy.  (For details, see Thomas DiLorenzo’s fine article at http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo54.html which also contains much about the Pledge as well.) Bellamy created this as pure propaganda, not just for The State, but for what today we term Transnational Progressivism:  The World State.  This made me understand that even saying the pledge as an “ideal” is giving too many people the wrong idea about both me and the Republic I have served so long, and so I am mostly silent as I stand and salute the flag today. 

    Bro. Vance is right: it IS a lie if taken at face value; if taken in the context it was written, it creates a statist mental attitude that NO christian or soldier should have; and it is better to make it clear – and abstain.  So each pledge becomes a teaching opportunity, whether it is with a Scout troop, a Tribal council, a local government or a “patriotic event.”  What difference is there between this and “just a pinch of incense” to the genius of the Emperor?

    Again, bro. Vance is right regarding churches and their loss of their faith on those holidays.  It is as important for a church to refuse to celebrate such secular holidays as those three as it is to refuse to celebrate false religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and All Saint’s Day.  I will have as little to do with a church which has a flag (national OR state) in its assembly room as I will with one who has a piano or organ in that room: even if not “used,” neither such church has a godly understanding of the relationship between God, His children, and the state.

    Congratulations, bro. Vance, on this good article.

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