One Nation Under God?

June 27, 2011

What’s up, everyone.

We’re just a week away from the Fourth of July.  I don’t know how patriotic you feel, wherever you live.  Even though I kind of hate that song, “Proud to Be An American,” I’ll admit, I enjoy celebrating my country.  I get chills when I hear the national anthem (not being sung by Christina Aguilera.)  I love fireworks and John Philips Sousa, and cakes that are decorated like American flags, as silly as that is.

So all this week, carrying over into next Monday, I’ll be blogging about patriotism as it relates to faith.  Even if you live in Canada or Australia or somewhere else that Americans can’t find on a map, I want you to chime in with your thoughts.

So let’s jump right in.  Last week, NBC censored the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance during the US Open golf tournament.  After getting the typical flack from Christians, NBC’s only response was a rather curt, “Sorry if anyone was offended,” on Facebook.

But you know, even though I’d probably disagree with why NBC censored the pledge, I don’t entirely agree that God should be in the pledge at all.

Jesus is as American as Apple Pie

Christians are all over the map when it comes to loving your country.  To some of you, being patriotic, supporting the troops, and voting Republican is what Christianity is all about.  To others of you, feeling guilty about America, protesting wars, and voting Democratic is what Christianity is all about.

But when it comes to the pledge, most of us would probably agree that “under God” belongs in the pledge.

I guess it depends on what “under God” really implies about America…

One Nation Without God

You may know that “under God” was added to the pledge in 1954, about ten years after it was adopted.

But did you know that the original, “godless” pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister (who was also a socialist)?  How times change.  How did a Baptist conceive of a pledge that didn’t mention God?  Not to mention a Baptist that promoted socialism.  I don’t think he’d find a lot of friends in the Southern Baptist Convention today.

Also, originally, children weren’t taught to place their hands on their hearts for the pledge.  They had a rather unmistakable “Hitler salute.”  Creepy.

So, obviously, the pledge had nothing to do with affirming that America is a Christian nation.  It was all about “inoculating insufficiently patriotic people against dissent,” which is ironic, since America was built on the right to dissent.

God’s Nation Building

So what does “under God” even mean?

Maybe we’re saying that America was founded on Christian principles, that we were given a divine destiny, that God is our supreme authority as a society.  That’s all well and good, but if you believe that, you may not like what I have to say on Wednesday.

Or, does saying that America is “under God” imply that as a country, our politics and policies have been done in God’s name?  When we bless another nation, is it in the name of Jesus?  When we go to war, is it to exercise divine judgement?  We are people who have been blessed by God, but is our country really under God’s command?  Our past is the same as any other nation, that is, God probably didn’t approve of a lot of it.

The fact is, God isn’t in the business of nation building.  The only nation He created was Israel, and it was such a headache, He gave up after that one try.  Turns out, God’s about as good at nation building in the Middle East as America is.  Israel is probably the only nation that can claim to be under God…sometimes.

Saying “one nation under God” almost sounds like we’re taking God’s name in vain, if you see things my way.

What do you think?  Are you a hard-bitten, pledge saying, flag waving Christian, and there sure better be God in the pledge?  Or is it something to not worry about?  Or should we not even be pledging allegiance to a flag at all?

67 responses to One Nation Under God?

  1. Somebody said, Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?

  2. There’s a real debate over the fact that the US founded by Christian or theists. The Mayflower Compact was the earliest document pointing to a Christian God who may be sovereign over this land. If that was the fact, the US and Israel would be the only two nations founded for God.

    Regardless of where you stand in the debate, the all out assault on the word God (and Jesus etc.) is undeniable. What is pathetic is that many Americans don’t even know their 1st amendment rights when it comes to a personal expression of faith. If they did, this debate would be a moot legal point.

    As a father with kids in public schools and private colleges, I have found many of these educators don’t know them either. It’s sad that a teacher can tell me that my daughter cannot do a presentation on evolution and mention creationism. They tried to opt her out of the class. It didn’t’ work. She went in, did her report, and gave an opposing view. After the teacher tried to flunk her, she had to pass her because she had accurately described the Theory of Evolution (which was the point of the learning assignment.)

    The is a nation which allows freedom of speech and religion. However; uneducated Americans some how believe that the “separation of church and state” is a license to censor religious freedom. Sad.

    In the end, I love America, I support the troops. (One trip to visit a soldier in Walter Reed military hospital should help you past that hurdle), I take my freedom of speech and religion seriously, and I don’t put up with censorship.

    When it comes to our heritage which includes both the godly and the ungodly (IE: Slavery), I accept it. As a Christian, I vote for those that are most likely to promote godly principals. I am also ashamed that religious freedom is some how limited in the public sector to everyone but Christians.

    God bless America! Why? Because the tongue has the power to bless and curse. (James 3:9)

    • Yes, I’ve seen way too many stories of educators who don’t know what the first amendment means. I had a principal ask me in an interview if I was going to indoctrinate students with my faith. The question struck me as discriminatory.

  3. I think you make a good point about it not really belonging in the pledge in the first place. However, it’s there and I think the issue is the reason “why” people would want to take it out now after all this time.

    It makes people sad about the state of the country. Whereas at one time people were proud of our pledge of allegiance, and now to make it all PC, they want to remove it.

    I can’t say that I’m deeply moved either way…but I understand both sides.

  4. I went to a small Christian school that started each day with a pledge of allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. This probably is what unsettles me about that word allegiance. Is it an act of worship? When people do it in school it doesn’t bother me much (now), but in church it seems disturbingly like an idol. Either way, in the long run, my allegiance isn’t to a country.

    • Haven’t heard of pledging to a Christian flag or the Bible but I know many Christians who idolize the Bible.

      • Matt,

        How does a person idolize The Scriptures? Is not Jesus The Word made flesh? So, if I worship Him, am I idolizing The Word, meaning, The Scriptures?

        • I think that’s a misunderstanding of what is meant by “the Word.” Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mind as articulated in the scriptures, but that does not make the scriptures equal to Jesus. I just see people too often getting too defensive about the Bible’s inerrancy and such. One result is young earth creationists who insist that Genesis 1 is a literal, scientific explanation of creation. The irony is they are defending something the Bible never intends to say. So yes, I do think people can turn the Bible into an idol, and I don’t think worshipping Jesus is akin to worshipping scripture.

          • But Matt, again, He is The Word made flesh.

            Is there a one thing in The Scriptures that does not involve The Son, or the relationship between the Father and His Son?

            Has it not always been on the heart of God that His people would be The Word made flesh? In this endeavor, in this will,do not The Scriptures point ever to Jesus?

        • People idolize scriptures in all kinds of ways. They take verses and hang their lives on them without understanding the heart of God. Yes, we are called to be holy and to adhere to the Word, but one cannot ignore that God is love and that loving God and each other is the highest calling, meaning that if our blind adherence to a verse or a principle is making us unloving, we’re doing it wrong. I’ve seen people place so much emphasis on the physical book they enshrine it instead of wearing it out reading it, and be so committed to a particular translation that they accuse people who read other versions of heresy. All of that is missing the point and making an idol out of a method God used to communicate. IMHO.

          • Jeanne,

            You said:
            “Yes, we are called to be holy and to adhere to the Word, but one cannot ignore that God is love and that loving God and each other is the highest calling, meaning that if our blind adherence to a verse or a principle is making us unloving, we’re doing it wrong.”

            “I did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” Jesus
            “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus
            “Not everyone who calls Me “Lord” will enter My Father’s Kingdom.” Jesus

            If I adhere to these Scriptures and stand upon them, am I not being loving enough?

        • Yes, Christ is the Word made flesh, but He is also the Word that created all things and was, in the sense of being, long before the Bible to the infinite degree. Is the Word made flesh to suggest that it was Romans made flesh or 1 Peter made flesh? Or was it the second Person of the Trinity, made flesh.

          As for what part of the Scriptures does not involve the Son or the relationship between the Father and the Son: anything that has to do with the Holy Spirit. True, He involves the other persons of the Trinity, but He is also an equal member participating within it. And it is He, the Holy Spirit, who indwells you. Jesus breathed His Spirit upon the disciples, the Father sent the Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus is in Heaven, not living inside you. When He ascended, the angels were clear: He has gone. He will come again as you saw Him go, but He’s not here anymore. The Spirit, the Comforter, is. The reason I stress this is because when you say: “Has it not always been on the heart of God that His people would be The Word made flesh?” That doesn’t paint a full picture of the salvation narrative. If this were true, Adam and Eve would have enjoyed deistic like qualities. They were very much human. If we take Romans 8 seriously, then we recognize that it is the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and now lives in us. This same Spirit makes us heirs through hope, adopted into the family of God. But adoption does not equate to bloodline, in privilege yes, but in lineage no. I am not incarnate as Christ is incarnate. I will not be incarnate as Christ is incarnate. I will be bodily resurrected as He is, that is the promise of Scripture, but it is not the promise of Scripture that I will be Word made flesh. That would make me out to want to be a god, the oldest of all temptations. The Word is Christ and Christ first and foremost. I am not the Word. The Spirit in me testifies of the Word. But I am not He. “He must increase,” as the saint once said, and I believe the saint.

          And this, I would like to point out, is coming from someone who loves the literary elements of the Scriptures that our Artist paints His world with, using people and events like paints and brushes. But I am nutty enough to not be bothered by a six day creation, because I think God can, and the image is lovely. I believe the Bible is a beautiful glimpse into the mind of God, provides guidelines for teaching and correction, and is alive, powerful, and cuts across time and culture. But I also believe that it is not God. God speaks through it, can breathe through it, but it is not God. It is the word of the Word.

          • Preston,

            If indeed you endeavor to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, minister like Jesus, and be Jesus to The World, you seek a good thing.

            Who is Jesus, then? The Son. The Word made flesh.

            If I want to be like Him, I need to walk in His Sonship and in His being The Word made flesh.

            Please do not misunderstand me here, I am certainly NOT saying we usurp Him or become little Jesuses ourselves, perhaps like the Mormons teach, but that we become as The Word made flesh in this side of Heaven. It is not gender specific, race related, age determinant. It is what we should all seek to be. Like Jesus. As He was. In all things. The logical conclusion to this is that we strive to be The Word made flesh as He was. Again, I am not preaching some New Age drivel or “cosmic consciousness” nonsense. I am talking about literally walking in the spirit of sonship, as provided and brought by the Holy Spirit. Walking like sons as Jesus walked as The Son.

            This is a difficult teaching, to be sure.

            Thanks for the very concise and well thought response! I enjoyed your writing.

        • I wrote this a few days ago, which sort of addresses my perspective on the subject.

          http://stresspenguin.blogspot.com/

          The short of it is, the Bible is not the “Word of God.” Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is the means by which the Holy Spirit reveals the Word of God (Jesus) through it’s writers, to those who are blessed enough not to have seen Jesus and yet still believe (John 20.29).

      • I just experience VBS in the South for the first time with my kids, and they had all the kids say the pledge to the US flag, a pledge to the Christian flag, and a pledge to the Bible. I’ll be honest, it kind of creeped me out.

    • That drives me nuts about AWANA. My kids have learned more about the Bible through that program than anything else in this world, but for some reason, they are taught to pledge both to the American flag and the Christian flag. Why? Unsettling.

  5. I remember my mother telling me that when she was a kid, “under God” was not in the pledge. I don’t think it would have been so terrible if those two words weren’t added, but taking them out now is a public denial of Him that I can’t be okay with. (That being said, I also think it’s perfectly acceptable for people who don’t believe in God to pause during those two words rather than say something they don’t mean.)

  6. I think it’s sad how much time we spend defending man-made things and ignoring the ones God made. We ignore most biblical holidays, invent Christmas, stick it at a time of the year we choose, and then get our collective ecclesiastical knickers in a wad when people say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” at our made-up time. We invent a poem, amend that poem to include “under God” and then blast people who don’t want to say it. But how many people who are this bent out of shape spend time memorizing scripture or meditating on the complexities of what God wrote (or inspired people to write)? My guess is that the percentage is very, very small. It is a made up fight that is not worth my emotional energy to join when the community in which God had put me has so many actual issues He has called us to address.

  7. i’ll be in Africa for the 4th, does that make me unpatriotic? :-)

  8. Considering the Pledge, as we said it when I was in school, was more of a political oath than a religious one (I’m referring to it’s use in the 1950’s as method of inoculating kids against the influence of godless pinkos) I don’t see why we don’t just get rid of it altogether.

    On another note, I live in a state where the license plates have “In God We Trust” on them unless you choose to “opt out”. I chose to opt out because it just looks fake to me. How many people are driving around with those things on their car because they actually trust in God, and how many are just doing it because this is a red state and that’s the thing to do? (It is always a bit interesting to get cut off in traffic by someone with a “God” plate–it’s sort of like getting cut off by someone with a fish on their bumper.)

    I think the obsession about having “under God” in the pledge (or “in God We Trust” on our money and license plates, for that matter) is idolatry, plain and simple. It’s a superficial little ritual that helps make us think that we’re God’s special little club–if we put His name all over stuff, He’ll give us Brownie points. It’s no different from what the pharisees were doing, in my opinion.

  9. As a Canadian, we’ve made it part of our national identity to be politically correct. On Friday, July 1, we’ll be celebrating our national birthday and we will wave a small, handheld flag to showcase our country pride so I feel inadequate to add my thoughts – but then again, that has never stopped me from offering my opinion.

    America (or Americans, because I’ve never seen the land talk) may be outspoken and obnoxious about their patriotism but at the same time, I admire countrymen that believe something so strongly. It may be misplaced at times but it’s there. A while back you talked about the decrease in Christianity and increase in the Mormon & JW faith because they believed something and defended it unapologetically.

    I wasn’t going to say anything until you mentioned the flag. I’ve been doing a significant word study on flags and they were very important to the Israelites. Scripture even talks about the enemy fleeing at the sight of their banners (flags). As a an American (or Canadian, or Australian or any of the national), the flag indicates the standard that you live under.

    I say, raise the banner, praise God that your nation (unlike any other) declares themselves to be ‘under God’. Who cares if the ‘under God’ was added later. Nobody was born a Christian, but I am ‘under God’ now because of my conversion later in life.

  10. I’ll be skipping church next week as we sing “God Bless America” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” I worship Jesus, not the country I live in.

    • To sing about asking God’s blessing on our nation is worshipping our nation?

      Hmmm. Nope, don’t see it. If I said, “God bless you!”, would you think I was worshipping you?

  11. The only time I ever say the pledge of allegiance these days is when I am actually at a game and then it’s only when I am the coach. I greatly appreciate that I am American, but in no way feel entitled by that flag to give my all to her goals and objectives.

    Our church meets in a school and we intentionally hide the American flag and the Christian flag because neither represent the heart of God meant to be emblazoned on our hearts not in empty words.

    I say pledge to no flag at all.

  12. I don’t think i really want to get into the discussion on “Christian nation.” Too many seem to see imperialism and pushing American agenda as somehow akin to evangelizing. I don’t understand it. In my mind, much as i love this country, it has become extremely arrogant.

    My pet peeve is the “God bless America” theme. I’d love to plaster over every bumper sticker that says that with one that says, “America honor God.”

  13. Once again you bring an awesome perspective to an age old question. I’ve never thought it a big deal that it’s in the pledge…I just go along thinking “of course it’s under God. He created everything, didn’t he?” 😉

  14. I like the “under God” mention in the plegde…probably for the reason they Don’t want it on there…it reminds us that we get our certain freedoms from God…But to them it reminds them of a God they don’t want to be accoutable to….so just easier to erase him…

    BUT, i’m also with derek webb…

    My first allegance is not to a man, a country of a flag,
    My first allegance is not to democrocy or blood….
    It’s a King and a Kingdom…

  15. Great points. I think there are plenty of other opportunities to promote and celebrate God without the government’s help.

  16. This is an interesting take on “under God.” Whenever this issue is discussed, the legality of it is argued. However, I am ok with it if we think that instead of looking at it as a reference to the God of the Bible, we look at it as it was intended. It was added by Congress to differentiate us from the communists. Now is that using God’s name in vain? Possibly. But, its similar to “So help me God” or school prayer at special occasions. It solemnizes the occasion.

    However, I may be completely off since I wasn’t born in 1954. Or ’64, or ’74 or ’84…

  17. Matt,
    I have to say, I don’t care what the intentions or the original pledge really stated. I do care that God–even the nebulous “Creator”, not even Jesus Christ–is being sucked out of every aspect of American life.

    Without sounding like an alarmist, I believe we really are in a battle for this nation. That being said, I’ll take references to “God” anywhere they might be. So many people are seeking, desperate, and lost–clinging to idols and sin–devoid of any concept of a loving Heavenly Father.

    I have seen the Spirit reach hearts through a painting, a book, a television show, a kind gesture. If that is the case, I do not care what “under God” means, I simply are that we acknowledge Him in all things.

    • Nicole,

      Yowza! That had #boomsauce written all over it!

      “…we acknowledge Him in all things.” Just a quick question regarding this:
      Do you think Satan acknowledges God’s Sovereignty? I most assuredly do. And since he does, being the ultimate example of sin, than how much more should we, as His Creation, acknowledge Him, even if we “don’t believe”?

      • These verses came to my mind per your question:

        “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” Roams 3:19

        and…

        “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:39-40

      • If Satan doesn’t acknowledge God’s sovereignty, he will someday. We’d be wise to do so now.

        • Matt,

          Surely He does acknowledge His Sovereignty. How could he not? He approached God in the Book of Job and God told him what he could and couldn’t do to Job according to His desire.

          Satan believes in God, definitely. He was there with Him. Even in a fallen and condemned state, Satan acknowledges the Sovereignty of our God. Today. Now. Here.

  18. Gosh, I hope we aren’t saying that everything we do is in God’s name. That would be the epitome of arrogance.

    I would hope that “under God” would be a reminder that we are not, in fact, on top but are submitted to God in what we do. We are not the supreme authority. Or at least that we are trying to be submitted to him.

    But thanks for the helpful perspective on the pledge. I didn’t know a lot of that. People act like that thing was handed down from on high when it isn’t even that old. It is WWII propaganda (complete with the heil!).

    Looking forward to wednesday!

  19. You know – a lot of the same people who get bent out of shape about the “under God” being taken out of the pledge or who forward all those emails about “In God We Trust” being removed from the money that is minted and printed are some of the same ones who might pass by a homeless person sitting on the side of the road with a sign that says “God Bless You For Helping” without doing a thing to help her/him. You can plegde that we are “under God,” but until we act like it, I believe that it is kinda like some kind of clanging gong or something…

    Much in the same way in which we GO to church but we don’t ACT like the Church (little and capital “C’s” intended).

    As one of those people who had to pledge the Bible, the American Flag and the Christian Flag in Sunday School and VBS – I will admit that I was always uncomfortable with it. Ironically, if I were in court and was asked to swear an oath on the Bible, I wouldn’t mind it; to me, that’s comparable to me stating that the words of my mouth are as genuine as the words in that Book I try to live by. But to pledge TO the Bible instead of pledging BY the Bible? That’s…off, to me at least.

  20. I never learned the pledge growing up, as I went to a public school in a liberal city in the ’70s. Now I live in an extremely patriotic small town, where local kids really do spontaneously gather around and sing Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” on the 4th of July, and I just feel left out.

    • Megan,

      I’d watch out for those kids. They sound like domestic terrorists to me. Do they wear “American flag” t-shirts or pins? I’ll bet they have even gone so far as to read The Constitution.

      Just playin’!

      It’s kinda cool to see kids/youth/teens/whatnot actually express a certain amount of pride in their country. In this day and age…wow!

    • Spontaneous displays of patriotism are great and all but yaaaaaaaargh, couldn’t they give “Proud To Be An American” a rest? (When my husband was in junior high he had a teacher that made the kids sing THAT instead of the actual national anthem. Seriously.)

      I know, it’s more of a personal style point on my part but, gee whiz, when there are so many patriotic songs out there that are genuine classics, why does that piece of tripe get so much airplay?

  21. I guess my perspective is that God sets up all kings and all kingdoms, so they are all “under God” in that respect. And as long as you’re not atheistic, I really don’t see why it gives people heartburn to say (or just skip those words in the pledge).

    At the same time though, I _do_ see it as just one more example of there being freedom of religion – as long as that religion isn’t Christianity. People have long misunderstood the “separation of church and state” (which is _NOT_ in the Constitution, but rather in letters written by Thomas Jefferson) as there being some requirement that there not be religion in politics, when the reality is that it was the idea that there not be politics in religion (i.e., a state-sponsored (or mandated) church). It was in no way meant to imply that there can’t be religious displays in public places or religious words spoken or beliefs held and acted upon by public figures.

    But having said all of that, I think there are bigger fish to fry. I think Satan uses things like this as a distraction to keep us from doing a lot of other things that would be more worth our time and effort, both publicly and privately.

    Says the person who just spent 15 minutes of her life reading a post about it, reading through the comments to said post, and then adding one of her own. Time well spent?

    • Absolutely right about separation of church and state. It was a requirement made by Virginia Baptists for them to support ratification of the Constitution.

      And as for the topic being a waste of time, maybe it’s not a waste of time to encourage others to move on to bigger hills to die on.

      • You really think the founders of our country (whose forefathers so recently fled state-sponsored religious persecution by the Church of England) did not intend for our government to be impartial with regards to religion? While the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the constitution, the first amendment’s wording is very clear that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Asking every child to acknowledge the existence of our God and to equate Him with patriotism is a clear violation of the first amendment.

        Despite what some of us would like, we do not live in a theocracy. The government impartiality with respect to religion is designed to protect us all from state-sponsored religious persecution. Though as Christians we are the majority religion in the U.S., I do not want to live in a country where others are not protected from the tyranny of the majority (us).

  22. What a great discussion here. Loved reading the responses– good food for thought.

    Living overseas, my patriotism meter has gone way up. I think one of the things I have realized is how incredibly fortunate we are to live in America, to be her citizens. It drives me a little crazy when I hear soooooo much complaint about how awful America is doing, how terrible the government is, etc, when I am living in a part of the world where pretty much everyone’s “dream” is to get to America– where the government pays for school, where there is a welfare system at all, where people have a right to an education, where the military can’t abuse you, where the police typically won’t take a bribe.

    And yet, so many of us forget that much of the world is struggling for food and medicine and social justice. And we spend a lot of energy griping about insurance companies and stock markets and public schools.

    Sorry. I don’t mean to belittle the very REAL struggle many, many Americans are undergoing, esp. financially right now, but I think from where I sit, it’s just a different perspective of how really fantastic we have it as American citizens.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Will visit here again!

  23. It disturbs me how much any semblance of God is being eradicated in this country, there is definitely a humanist/atheist agenda being pushed (which are both belief systems, believing in a lack of something is still a belief, so stop pushing your religion down my throat atheists!)… but that being said I don’t know if I care too much in this particular instance. I don’t know if I care because the first words of the pledge are “I pledge allegiance to THE FLAG”…I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ and that is it. I certainly pledge no allegiance to an object, not to mention a country that I am unsure had anything to do with Christ from the get go. I am thankful that I was born in the US, but I am not proud of something I had no control of (I had no choice in any aspect of my birth). I find pride in one’s nation, one’s race or ethnic background, to be akin to having pride that one’s eyes are blue or green. It’s silly and unnecessary. So in that realm I am probably one of the most unpatriotic people you’ll meet….But I do love the 4th of July.

    July 4th is like Christmas in my family, it’s a mandatory holiday. There is always a big gathering with lots of food, games, and fireworks. It has come to be a celebration of family and summertime (in South Dakota we celebrate warm weather!) and I look forward to it every year!

  24. Now my problem with the Pledge of Allegiance is the whole allegiance part. As far as I’m concerned I don’t want to pledge my allegiances to anyone but God. I feel very blessed to have grown up in this country with the freedoms that I have, but I don’t feel comfortable pledging allegiance to our flag.

  25. Reporting in from Australia…

    I’ve just got to say, and with all due respect, we just don’t get the whole American patriotism thing. Pledging allegiance to a flag? Arguing about whether or not the words ‘under God’ are in said pledge? We have our own strange little customs, but from our (okay, fair enough, my) perspective it seems so unrelated to the Gospel.

    Instead of bickering over the wording of the pledge, or the allegiance to the flag or all of those other specks, why not search your own eyes and ask questions about what freedom actually means? Why not celebrate the fact you have the right to turn around and refuse to even look at the flag? What about the fact you have the right to do so as one nation under God, no god or as many gods as you care to name?

    Those are some pretty wonderful things there.

    Now, in case I’ve offended anyone I have said similar things about my own nation and my denomination here: http://spirit-cry.com/2009/01/26/wearing-the-flag/

    • Exactly. It is rather ridiculous. But we’re in a bad cycle of ideals. Patriotic people think our founding ideals are under attack which makes them more vehement in their patriotism. This makes cultural progressives more vehement in their views, and on it goes

  26. I didn’t go through all the comments but sometimes I think Christian Americans are no different from the Jews of Jesus’ day. They were so proud about their country and race that it was an idol above God.

    nicodemusatnite.com

  27. As ones who follow Christ and claim to follow His teachings, we are meant to have one master. One can only be a citizen of one Kingdom. Man’s or Christs? To pledge allegiance to any flag, American, Christian or any other is a betrayal of ones citizenry in the Kingdom of God (no, the Christian flag isn’t the symbol for the Kingdom, it is the symbol of an often corrupt church). At the time of our choice to follow Christ and His ways we give up the right to belong to any other authority. That is not to say that Christians/Disciples/ or whatever one likes to be called to be dissents, anarchists or Christian Nationalists. In the worlds of Paul, “Meganoita!” We serve the Kingdom of God wherever we happen to live. I live in America, and I appreciate it, but I will not die for it, I will not betray the Kingdom of God by putting America and it’s interest first in this world, I will not kill for it. I begrudgingly pay taxes only because I use the servies that those taxes provide. I hate, no I DESPISE, that my tax dollars go towards wars that I have no desire to support. I vote because I can’t complain about politics unless I participate in them (and it may shift how my taxes get used). If I ever move to another part of the world my views will stay the same as they are now. I participate responsibly wherever I reseide, serving the Kingdom to my fullest wherever that may be. I will not participate in or endorse actions that the group of people that call themselves a nation that I live amongst do that are contrary to the ways of Christ. If serving the Kingdom means braking the laws of the land, so be it (as long as that law breaking is done in a loving, peaceful and life giving way). Those laws are unjust and a hinderance to life and must be broken or changed…All this to say, pledging allegiance to anything other than the Kingdom of God is a betrayal of ones citizenry of that Kingdom. Do I think that that betrayal of citizenry is a sin, I dont know or care to make guesses. I do know that it hinders the work of the Kingdom and it’s people here on this Earth. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, it is time we acknowledged that and shaped our lives around that true citizenry. BTW, as soon as I can figure out a way not to use public roads or infrastructure, I’ll figure out a way to stop paying taxes. “ONE GOD OVER ALL NATIONS (people groups not governments)”

    • “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

      I’m not being contentious here, but if all Christians believe as you do, how could any Christian run for government office or be President?

  28. Wow, interesting conversation here, Matt. By the time I read all the comments, I have nothing to say. Guess I need to start getting here earlier. :)

  29. What I heard about the NBC story was that they accidentally spliced out a part of the pledge when they were editing together the show. I don’t think it was “censored” deliberately. But I don’t know.

    Anyway, nice post. It’s really refreshing to see a Christian acknowledge that “under God” was added to the pledge and isn’t some crucial part of American identity. We can each believe whatever we believe about God, gods, or lack thereof, and that’s what’s great about America.

  30. Every time I hear the pledge of allegiance in church, I want to kill a kitten. (Ya know, to make a point… not because I’m sadistic or anything.)

    Seriously, it just doesn’t feel right to me. It sort of feels like inviting my boss into my bedroom with my wife. That may be a weird analogy, but that’s how invasive it feels to me. We’re taking something political and necessary and maybe even good in its own way and injecting it into something pure and holy and extremely intimate.

    I just don’t like it. I love America. But not like I love Jesus. In fact, “love” just doesn’t do the latter justice if it aptly describes the former.

    • Our church doesn’t do this, but a previous one did. All it took was for me to wonder whether an American heathen or an Iraqi Christian would feel more at home in a church that had the practice of saying the pledge of allegiance. If a sister or brother in Christ would be justifiably uncomfortable, and a non-believing patriot made more comfortable, by a practice in church, it needs to be reevaluated. I know I would be immediately suspect of being in a Chinese or Soviet church that pledged it’s fealty to the government.

  31. Provocative comments and conversations abound here…

    And I know what I will add here will probably shock the majority of those who know me. Leave “under God” or take it out – it matters not. What matters is what is in the heart of every man or woman in this country.

    Some call me a radical – some call me a Patriot – but really – I am all and none of those labels. I am ME. My faith is PERSONAL. It is MY faith. My right to practice that faith, unhindered, is granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I served in the US Military for 9 years – being ready to defend that privilege (some say Right – but anything that requires a piece of paper from a government is really a privilege – not a right) granted by the founding principles of the country in which I live.

    Do I worship a flag? No.
    Do I respect it as a symbol of my country and the founding principles of that country? Yes.
    Do I recite The Pledge? Yes. As a matter of RESPECT – not idolatry.
    Do I place my hand over my heart at the playing of the National Anthem? Yes. As a matter of RESPECT for the country I live in – and the freedoms afforded my by that very same country.

    Some “basics” have been lost over the years, since the founding of this nation – one of those things is RESPECT. Where is it written that we, as a nation, have to agree on every topic? But we should have RESPECT for those who disagree with our viewpoint.

    Should we tear them down, publicly? Call names? Muck rake? No. It is their opinion – they are entitled to it – and entitled to voice it.

    The Supreme Court has even gone so far as ruling that protesters – certain ones in specific – have the right to burn the Flag – and protest at the funerals of those men and women who have died in service to the very same country that gives them these privileges. So be it. That is the law. Render unto Caesar.

    Do I have to agree with them? Nope. But when I have sworn an oath to support and defend (not worship) the Constitution (which, by the way, the Oath contains the words “so help me God” – which you are free to either not say if you so choose) – I have sworn to defend their privilege of doing so… But the right to free speech – is not a right to be HEARD by those who don’t wish to hear you. It is not a right for you to be able to stand outside my window and scream your views at me. With Privileges – come responsibilities. You have the privilege of free speech – to be exercised with respect and responsibility.

    So – to the question at hand – “Under God” should stay or go – is a moot point. Makes no difference.

    If you believe in God – say those words. If you do not – don’t say them. But when you are asked – what does it mean to you that YOU HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO CHOOSE? That privilege of CHOICE is the key…

    We are a “privileged people” in America. We have more “privileges” than most any other country on the face of the planet… And as such, we sometimes ACT like “privileged people” – we get spoiled and we throw tantrums when we don’t get our way. Apparently, humankind (to be PC about it) is still very much an infant race… We have much to learn…

    Do I believe in God? That is a matter for me and me alone. Do I believe in our country? I believe we a “diverse nation” – and that the old saying is true – “You can please SOME of the people SOME of the time – but you can’t please ALL the people ALL of the time.”

    So… What will I do? I will practice my faith, I will voice my opinions and beliefs (whether or not I am heard), and I will be me.

    If I do not like something – then I will strive to change it. If I like something – I will strive to keep it.

    In the end – depending on your faith – I will account for all that is said by my lips and done by my hand and believed in my heart. As far as I know – THESE are the things that matter…

    • Sid speaks to what I have learned while being arrogant. Saying the pledge is idolatrous, in my opinion, but out of respect, particularly for those who serve in the military, I say the Pledge, hand over heart.