Why I Stopped Saying the Pledge of Allegiance (Guest Post)

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Saying the Pledge of Allegiance (Guest Post)

  1. This is a very interesting topic, Elise! I too, have my own thoughts on this matter and was wondering if I could do a friendly post on my blog about my own point of view, and then link back to your post. Then there would be two different viewpoints for readers to consider. Would that be alright if I linked back to your post?
    – Megan Joy
    p.s. I really love the name Elise! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. flaw rainlight says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s one of the things that has been on my mind.

    I live in India. We start preschool when we are about three and a half or four years old, and are continuously “taught” about why our country, with its cultures and traditions and diversity, is basically the best country ever. This bothers me immensely. It’s barely any different from programming racist thoughts and and beliefs that might later cause them to discriminate against people who aren’t exactly like them. Ironic.

    We are taught about the freedom struggle from British colonialism by the time we’re nine or ten. When you ask why the textbooks condemn violence by the British, but rejoice at violence by the freedom fighters, they don’t have an answer. They talk about Mahatma Gandhi and his policies of peace and non-violence. They talk about him side by side with neatly written, barely hidden violent insults about colonialists and more or less anyone who opposed him.

    We learn about the Partition, when India was split into Pakistan, Bangladesh and a broken India. They tell us about the slaughter and torture Hindus and other non-Muslims (yes, that’s how they say it) who lived in present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh faced at the hands of those who demanded a purely Islamic state. If you didn’t like that, you either left or died. Brutal. They don’t tell us that Muslims in present-day India faced much of the same. They slip in a word or two about the horrors in the last railway trains that moved people from one country to a land which was of the same country barely days ago, but is now the “enemy” land.

    They talk about the battles between Pakistan and India. When I was eleven, my Hindi textbook, which I was studying from in my second language class, had an excerpt about an air-force pilot and his experiences on the battlefield. What disturbed me was the word “dushman”, meaning enemy, or the evil people, strewn all over the pages. They brainwash us into wanting to hate the civilian people who haven’t ever hurt us. What alarmed me even further was that most of my classmates looked really confused when I told them that I didn’t understand the point of all this hatred. I didn’t ask my teacher why.

    When we start school, we learn the national anthem. It is a beautiful song by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whom I deeply adore and respect. We sing about the people of different states and The mountains and seas, rivers and blessings and praise. None of the one-upping. Only respect. Well deserved respect and admiration. I love it.

    We celebrate the Independence Day and Republic Day once every year. They drill this violent kind of national pride into your head whether you want or not, whether you understand what’s going on or not. They act out little plays with children barely older than toddlers dressed in dramatised soldier’s clothes, followed, possibly, by a patriotic dance by little girls in ghagra colour coded to the national flag, the tallest girl would stand centre stage wearing a white sari and holding the flag: Bharat Mata, Mother India. Patriotic songs fill every road and alley, school buildings play them on loud speakers, saying “Saare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara!” ‘Our India is the best place in all the world!” Of course, the songs are beautiful, melodic and say good things about humanity and how to make the world a better place. And that’s wonderful. But the false pride that you now have about your country being superior to all others, stays.

    When I find myself in a friendly debate about something to do with democracy or world peace or the United Nations, at some point or another, I come around to saying, “I don’t believe in countries.” The reactions of mocking disbelief I almost always get are nothing I’m not used to by now. Only that it saddens me that, after living amongst fellow humans for years, decades maybe, we still find a need to separate. We build walls to protect ourselves from our own insecurities and complexes about those who are only slightly different in appearance, and are the same at heart. We cage ourselves up and rejoice.

    We need to come together, beyond countries, beyond religion, beyond names. We are, after all, the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow!!! Thank you so much for this insightful comment, and for sharing about your own experience. I agree, there should be a difference between respect for your people’s history and out-and-out nationalism. Again, thanks so much! Maybe you could make this into a post sometime!

      –Elise

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First, let me say thank you. Not because I agree with all your points but because you have taken time to atleast think about why you are doing or not doing it.
    Here are some things to ponder. I know you talk about some failures of our past like slavery and womans rights. I know in the midst of the length of existence, it has only recently changed but it has changed. So instead of condemning it for the bad history, why not celebrate the fact that you live in a country that can learn and correct its mistakes. And I, by no means think that everything is great now. I actually think this country is more divided now then ever. But atleast I know, that we are not stuck there. As divided as we are headed, this country because of its foundation, can change and heal itself.
    Next, I personally dont believe that my pledge of allegiance to America over rided my pledge of allegiance to my God. In the bible, Jesus says render unto Cesears what is Cesears. We are told to obey those over us. And I dont personally think that is a conflict. The beautiful thing about this country is that you have religous freedom.
    Finally the last thing to ponder. A lot of people, and I dont know your thoughts, so I am not saying this is you, think because you have the freedom to do or say or believe something, that also means it is comes with no consequences. And that is not true. Just as you have that right, so does the person who feels the opposite. One of my issues today with America is that the attitude of you have the freedom to do as you please as long as you believe what I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oooo, interesting points!

        -I actually thought about the “render unto Caesar” passage while I was writing this but never had time to include it. See, that passage is talking about taxes, NOT our allegiance to the government. Also, I think the main point of that passage is what Jesus says afterwards–“Render unto God what is God’s”. Caesar’s image is on the coin, so we give the coin to him. But God’s image, as we know, is imprinted on us. That means that we have to give our entire selves over to God; giving a coin to Caesar pales by comparison. Also, there are many Biblical examples of God’s people defying the government. Look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who braved a fiery furnace instead of following an ungodly law. Look at Esther, who planned to assassinate Haman, an evil leader. Look at Paul and the early church, meeting in secret so the government wouldn’t find out. I think the Bible clearly says that followers of God must defy government if necessary. These examples show that sometimes, following a government and following God are mutually exclusive.

        -I agree that our country has done good things, and has healed a lot, and I’m proud of that. That’s why I’m still standing during the pledge, to show respect–I just don’t feel comfortable pledging my allegiance to a fallible entity, when my true allegiance is to someone higher.

        -And I could not agree more with your last point! Just because one has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean one should. However, I am so grateful that America gives me the right to not say the pledge of allegiance, and I’m prepared to take any repercussions that might have.

        -Finally, thank you for this wonderful and incredibly insightful comment, and for the charitable way in which you expressed your disagreement! Too often on the internet, discussions can turn into screaming matches, and I’m really grateful for the respectful and logical way that you outlined your points. Keep it up!

        –Elise

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your reply. You are an educated woman and we need more women and men who can use there minds like you do. I agree with a lot of what you say. You even bring up some of my favorite people in the Bible. I dont think that pledging alligence is going against what God stands for, so I personally feel that is equal to giving cesear what is cesears. But I understand that you see things differently and that is fine.
        My only concern for you is that there is a stigma associated with individuals who dont stand which I know you said you do. I just dont want your cause to be misinterpreted or lumped into a cause that you are not supporting. Your a smart woman and I am sure you handle yourself perfectly.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks @phillyinmb ! Yeah, part of my reason for standing was so people wouldn’t think I was actually an anarchist or something. Again, thank you so much! I’m glad you’re thinking about it too.

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  5. The pledge is vaguely enough worded that I think it could be interpreted not as a promise of blind obedience to the country (After all, what IS the country? The president? The laws? A majority vote of the population? Which one are you supposed to listen to if they tell you to do different things?) but rather a dedication to the ideals of the United States–equality, independence, etc.

    I’m also not convinced that the “under God” violates the First Amendment, which reads, as you note in part that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I don’t think that this means that the government cannot talk about religion at all, or else I guess the president should give up the Easter egg roll, celebrating Hannukah at the White House, celebrating Ramadan, etc. It means Congress can’t make everyone follow the same religion. The “under God” might not acknowledge that not all citizens believe in God, but it’s hardly establishing a religion.

    That being said, it is a choice to say the pledge and I think that this is not acknowledged as it should be within our schools. Students shouldn’t face punishments or shaming for choosing not to recite the pledge. Sadly, if students aren’t aware of their own rights, they could be faced with educators who might want to force them to say the pledge. I also don’t understand why someone’s choice not to recite the pledge rankles so many people as often this choice stems from an awareness that the U.S. still has many areas to improve. Wanting to make your country better is a form of patriotism! The recitation of the pledge isn’t the only way to show that you care about your country.

    I kind of feel weird reciting words while facing a flag, too, because it does seem like something we are expected to do in order to avoid social judgment, not something most of the people in the room necessarily really want to commit themselves to. I guess I would hope at least that saying the words out loud might remind some of the reciters that we still need to strive towards America’s ideals. But I admit I have no strong attachment to the pledge since I don’t feel that I need to announce my intentions in the direction of a flag for them to be real or valid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this awesome reply! Yeah, I agree the wording of the pledge is super vague–I chose to interpret it one way, but I see how other people could interpret it differently. And I hate the stigma against people who don’t recite it! This was a great, insightful comment, thanks again!

      –Elise

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