The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own personal views, and are not necessarily the views of anyone else I know.
The United States Pledge of Allegiance.
Essentially, we can make a valid argument for the pledge. I mean, who doesn’t want to support “liberty and justice for all?” Who doesn’t want to be patriotic and submit to the authority of the government? I mean, it’s biblical to be a submissive and supportive person of the government. There’s just four problems I have with this process of indoctrination, and they are (1) the massive ideological understanding that precludes a genuine pledge of this magnitude, (2) the darker history that prompted the pledge, (3) the current nature and definition of the flag in the United States Flag Code, and (4) the lack of necessity to subject ourselves to all these explicit and potential dangers.
1. The first objection lies in the fact that the people who are most likely to recite the Pledge every day, small children in schools, cannot really give their consent or even completely understand the Pledge they are taking. Children, who cannot vote or make any sound decisions for themselves of a ideological nature, are indoctrinated by reciting these words according to the United States Flag Code,
“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.”
Notice that the words “Flag” and “Republic” are capitalized. I ask you, what does that mean “to the Republic for which it stands?” Do little children know? Do they ask them if they know before they start indoctrinating them? Are they required to understand, or are they merely required to be indoctrinated by reciting these words over and over? What good is a pledge that isn’t understood or sincere?
It’s a very sad, sad place where all the children pledge allegiance to flags and none to Christ. As Christians, we understand that children cannot even pledge to Christ without fully understanding and believing in Him, yet in America they superficially indoctrinate children as they recite pledges that they not only don’t understand but they also don’t deeply agree with to the extent of a genuine pledge. It’s just as bad as forcing them to say “sorry” when they don’t really mean it. Most children aren’t even aware that they have the option to refuse to recite the pledge, and are coerced and indoctrinated without ever having an opportunity to think for themselves.
Parents and teachers who teach children to comply and pledge to deep ideological concepts that they don’t first fully understand are teaching them to be foolish and naive. If a 5 year old doesn’t understand deep ideological concepts such as committing to Christ, how do we expect them to understand deep ideological concepts like pledging allegiance to a flag that is considered a “living thing?” Kindergartners shouldn’t be reciting a pledge they cannot even comprehend. There is a serious ethical problem with indoctrinating children. They are being trained to “pledge first and ask questions later.” That’s extremely foolish behavior. Even as Christians who desperately desire for our children to believe in Christ, we don’t have them recite every day, “I believe in Christ” until it comes true. Why? Because if they don’t really understand and believe, then they are LYING. That’s the same ethical problem with getting children to repeat something like the pledge. It’s brainwashing and it’s lying. It is repeated exposure to a thing until they psychologically accept it to be true, whether or not they consciously choose it while practicing sober discernment.
It’s similar to reciting the sinner’s prayer. Just because someone repeats it over and over, that doesn’t mean diddly squat. It’s just foolishness if you don’t believe it or understand it. It’s a lie, a deception, a fabrication. Without understanding, it’s a puff of smoke from a magician. We shouldn’t want to teach children to say things they don’t mean. That’s not Christian-like at all. The Bible doesn’t teach us to, “say it until you mean it.” The Bible teaches us, “above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment” (Matt 5:7; James 5:12). We are supposed to be sober-minded and shouldn’t commit to something unless we fully understand and agree with it. We shouldn’t say it unless we mean it, and we can’t mean it if we don’t understand it.
2. The second objection is in the darker history of the pledge. For instance, do the children reciting this pledge have any idea what it’s original purpose was at all? Do they understand it was created with a socialistic, nationalistic agenda? Do they know anything about Francis Bellamy and his reasons for writing the original pledge? Before they begin their recitals, do they know Bellamy wanted to the national government to be in charge of everything? Do they know that is precisely what Hitler did as well? Did they know beforehand, before they recited the pledge, that these same tactics were used by Hitler, and that after the war began and Hitler and his tactics were demonized, the country pulled back from the socialist and nationalist agenda and then we were left with the pledge, an afterthought of what was meant to happen? Do they know anything about the pledge at all, or are they merely reciting something they are clueless about?
3. The third objection is about the way the United States defines “the Flag.” The first thing a person pledges allegiance to in the pledge is “the Flag” – an inanimate object. What’s the difference in bowing to a statue or any other object of idolatry? The US Flag Code states, “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing” (Section 8j). The flag is considered a “living thing?” If we do not agree with this definition, why would we still volunteer to pledge allegiance to this so-called “living thing?” And to bring back the first objection, are the children at all aware and understanding this and the ramifications of this?
4. The fourth objection is in regard to the voluntary nature of the pledge as stated in the United States Flag code. Legal challenges started in the 1950’s when Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs prevented them from swearing loyalty to any power other than God and who objected to policies in public schools requiring students to swear an oath to the flag. They objected on the grounds that their rights to freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment were being violated by such requirements.
Today, the United States Flag Code states, “the Flag Code serves as a guide to be followed on a purely voluntary basis to insure proper respect for the flag. The Supreme Court has ruled that politically motivated violations of the Flag Code are protected by the First Amendment. The Flag Code has no provision for enforcement. No fines, no penalties. There is nothing law enforcement can do when the Flag Code is broken.”
In other words, there is nothing that forces anyone to even say the pledge, and as controversial and idolatrous and foolish as it is, why on earth would we say the pledge, much less send children to blindly pledge their lives to this “living thing?” Why if they cannot reasonably pledge their lives to Christ do we expect them to voluntarily pledge their lives to the flag? Why do teachers and leaders and guardians not explain to children their rights and ensure that children fully understand the history, ramifications, nature, and ideological controversies of the flag? If we consider the massive weight of this subject, it’s no wonder Bellamy originally design this to be perceived as “easy and simple” and wanted it be be recited in a mere 15 seconds. It’s as easy as it could be to make this pledge. In fact, we know you don’t have to understand it at all to make it. As far as the US is concerned, if you’re old enough to form the words with your mouth, then you’re old enough to pledge your life. It is infinitely more easy to recite than to understand and explain.Those are very off-balance proportions, and they deserve far more inspection than most are willing to give.
At the very least do your homework, have your children do their homework, and discover the truth about who is Francis Bellamy, what were his intentions, what the pledge was originally intended to be, and what that government has to say about the flag and the pledge today. Know your rights and teach your children to have integrity and practice discernment by knowing and understanding these things in full before they decided whether or not to pledge.
Comments welcome – sharing encouraged.
Here are some USEFUL RESOURCES for researching the Pledge: