Happy Thursday! Today, I’d like to introduce my twin sister, Elise! She already helps edit my blog posts, and I suspect this won’t be the last we see of her. What she has to say today is controversial, and you 100% do not have to agree with her. This post is intended to start a discussion. OK, Elise, you have the floor. -MoMo
Hello there! I’m Elise, MoMo’s twin sister, known to friends as “The Qualitatively Better Twin”. (Though MoMo’s pretty awesome, too.) Today I’ll be sharing about recent decision I made and why I made it.
For those of you who aren’t from the United States, the Pledge of Allegiance is something American kids say at least every week in school. We all face the American flag, put our right hands over our hearts, and recite:
“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.”
I can’t remember the first time I said this. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have it memorized. Before we even understand what we’re saying, our teachers tell us to say it. And, like the dutiful 5-year-old Americans that we are, we do. I only really started to think about what the pledge means and why I say it this past year. The more I thought, the more uneasy I felt–until I finally made the decision to stop. I decided to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance based on 2 reasons.
It’s super creepy.
Children are told to salute a flag and to promise devotion and obedience to their country, with no one ever telling them that they can choose not to. To me, that’s disturbing.
I don’t know what your experience with the pledge was. But my teachers never gave me a thorough explanation of what it means, and they definitely never told me that I could choose not to say it. Only in the past year of my life have I started thinking about the pledge’s meaning. I realized that when I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I’m promising to obey my country.
This brings me to my next point.
On my part, it’s a flat-out lie.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect the United States. I love that I get to live in a country that was founded on the principle
“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights[.]” (Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence)
That said, our government is nothing if not fallible. Even after we got around to abolishing slavery, we still had overtly racist laws. It took us forever to recognize women’s right to vote. We continue to use inhumane methods at Guantanamo Bay prison. Do I really want to pledge allegiance to a country that has all of this in its past and present?
The good news is, I don’t have to. I’ve put my faith in Christ, and I’ve decided to submit my life to Him. My allegiance is first and foremost to an omnipotent, perfect Creator, and if that allegiance ever conflicts with allegiance to my country, my faith will take priority. I’m not going pledge allegiance to the United States, lest I have to go back on my word when the government goes against the Church’s teaching.
Now I’m going to address some counter-arguments.
But the pledge says “under God!”
Yeah, it sure does, and that’s a whole other problem. That was actually added in during the Cold War. The idea was, if America could identify itself with Christianity, it would further disassociate itself from Communism, which discourages religion. Not the purest of motives for affirming that our nation is under our Creator. Also, this clause in the pledge goes against the 1st Amendment, which states that
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion[.]”
True, the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t a law by Congress, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the implication of the 1st Amendment is that the United States government should not associate itself with a particular religion. The “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance only serves to offend non-Christians, and can be used to attack Christianity. It does much more harm than good, and is even more of a reason not to say the pledge.
It’s important for people to instill their values in their children, so we should teach our children to love their country.
That’s absolutely true. However, it’s also important to explain why we believe those values, and to give the children a choice about believing in those values. I have less of a problem with a child saying the pledge if a trustworthy adult has given a thorough, age-appropriate explanation and has made it clear to the child that he or she can choose not to.
Not saying the pledge is disrespectful to your country.
Blindly conforming to a procedure because I haven’t taken the time to understand it is much more offensive to the ideals of the United States. The 1st Amendment protects our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion. As an informed citizen, I am exercising these rights in my choice not to say the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, I have the deepest respect for the country that allows me to do so. Since I’ve decided not to say the pledge, I’m going to respect my country by:
- Singing the National Anthem. The National Anthem’s lyrics don’t contain any pledges to the United States; it’s simply a song of patriotism. I have no problems with singing the anthem and I will continue to do so.
- Standing during the Pledge of Allegiance. I won’t put my hand over my heart, and I won’t say the pledge. But I will stand out of respect for my country.
I’m not saying that everyone has to agree with my choice. But I am saying that everyone should think about their choice.
Thanks, Elise. Now I’d like to open it up to you guys. Do you agree or disagree with Elise’s choice? Why? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading. -MoMo
Featured image created with Canva.