This is a choice which I have abided for nearly a year. At various times I have felt led to articulate my reasons for doing so. Indeed, this past fall a friend helped me to record a video about my decision to never again say the Pledge of Allegiance (we filmed it at Guilford Courthouse Battleground, in front of the statue of General Nathaniel Greene, for what it’s worth).
Recent events have brought me to a place where at last I am compelled to write about why I’m not only refraining from the Pledge of Allegiance, but have come to see it as representing too much of what is wrong with America, and even in dire opposition to the vision of the Founders.
I first learned the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school. At that age, one absorbs and trusts everything the teachers expects one to learn. For years, decades even, I spoke the words without really knowing what they meant, much less where they came from. In fact, how many Americans do know where the Pledge came from?
I didn’t know until about ten years ago, and that was the beginning of my questioning the Pledge and whether, as a follower of Christ and a citizen of this country, it was something I should invoke.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy: a socialist, and arguably a racist and anti-Catholic. But none of those are germane to my individual illumination about the Pledge. Neither is it that Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance as part of a marketing scheme for Youth’s Companion magazine to sell thousands of American flags to schools throughout the country.
No, what aroused my conscience most was that Bellamy – a Baptist minister by trade, incidentally – wanted the Pledge to convey and instill the concept that obedience to country and government is a “virtue”.
I do not believe that. I do not believe that at all. Because that runs fully against the meaning of the Constitution of the United States: a contract which establishes a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Bellamy – as too many Christians do today – interpreted Jesus’ instruction to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26) to mean that Christians must be completely subservient to temporal government. I have heard many insist that to disobey government in any way is to disobey, disparage and disrespect God. So ingrained and unquestioned is this position that I have even heard of a minister who said he must allow his wife to be raped within his own house by federal agents, if they were to so intrude upon his home.
What is neglected or forgotten or ignored is what Jesus was teaching about responsibility to God. Jesus wasn’t telling His followers to obey man’s government without question. That would have put Him falling into the trap set by the Pharisees. His reply was something that hurt far more. He reminded the Pharisees and those of the law that because they had not rendered unto God first, they had to render unto Rome. The people of Israel were under the yoke of a foreign power when they could have instead been a free nation under the God of their forefathers.
Some Christians in this nation don’t want to understand that. But it’s true: there is no “Caesar” in America. If there was, We the People murdered him and took his place, with the blessings of Providence
How is it that we have resurrected Caesar? Are we now like the children of Israel, who cried at Moses to lead them back into the “safety” of bondage to Pharaoh? Trusting not in God but in a government wrought with corruption?
I don’t mean “imperfection”. No government under this sun is going to be perfect, and it would be the height of arrogance to think otherwise. I’m talking corruption. Power without restraint. Power for sake of power, eager and willing to waste and devour and murder to maintain that power. To remain in control.
Read the words of the Pledge of Allegiance:
“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 speak those words anymore, because those are the words of a colossal lie.
The United States is not a republic. It hasn’t been for a very long time. The citizens of America haven’t been in control of their own destinies for decades. It is now a government grown too big, too powerful, too corrupt. And corruption looks after itself. The professional politicians. The “journalists” lusting to be within the spheres of influence more than the pursuit of truth. The “academics” who sacrifice education to indoctrination. The unethical among corporations and banks who exploit the system entrusted them to steal billions of dollars... and when found out, use their pull to create new exploits, still.
This is a country whose laws now protect the corrupt from the innocent, and not the innocent from the corrupt.
It is insanity that a free people could ever give such as these, and far too many more, their absolute trust and loyalty. And yet, we have. We have witnessed it and witness it anew every day. And it matters not in the slightest which “party” is in control of this or that branch of government. The American people have suffered at least... at least... twenty years and counting of the most incompetent, the most selfish, the most freedom-loathing, and the most destructive executive leadership in United States history. From the Oval Office on down, we have come to be “represented” by the self-serving, the narcissistic, the soulless and the mad.
Don’t believe me? Read the headlines of the past few months. The Internal Revenue Service is revealed to be a weapon against those who would challenge the status quo. Our private communications, our finances and even our medical records are now being monitored by people we will never know and will never see. Searches now happen on a “hunch”, not with a warrant. We are now forced to have our DNA testify against ourselves in court of law. Pointing a finger and making “bang-bang” sounds has become grounds to arrest a kindergartner. Our borders are allowed to be overrun by the very officials who swore to defend and maintain them. And now, judges and justices have taken it upon themselves to redefine an institution held sacred throughout six thousand years and more of human history and tradition.
For all of these things and more, there will be consequences. If not in our own lifetime then in that of our children, and their children’s children. “Liberty and justice for all” doesn’t exist anymore. And if not for us now, then how can we look our offspring in the eye and still promise them these things?
That is what our government across this land has become: a force unto itself, bereft of restraint from its people. And that is something that I will not now and will never again pledge allegiance to. My allegiance must ever be to God, and to then serve others as He would lead me to do. If that requires violating the rulings and legislations of mere men, then I will do so and suffer the consequences.
I can respect and appreciate what the Flag of the United States is supposed to represent. But I will not yield my morals and my conscience to those who would wield that same flag against myself, my family and my posterity.
If I am to have a pledge, it will be a pledge which I make according to the dictates of my conscience, of what was intended by those who came before, and of the necessity of a law higher than that of man.
If I am to pledge to something, it will be toward that which was once part of what made America good, and could make it good again.
And this is now my pledge...
Pledge of Adherence
"I pledge adherence to the Constitution of the United States of America, to steward authority (God) entrusted the people from whom the Republic derives its consent, and to uphold the blessings of liberty for all."
Whether one chooses to use the word "God", I left as a matter of personal preference. In my own case, I believe that God did give the authority of this nation to its people, and not to its government, and so I do include "God" when I have said this pledge. But regardless of preference, the Constitution has made clear in no uncertain terms that it is the people from whom authority stems in the United States.
There it is. I don't care what anybody else thinks of it, or thinks of me for composing it or what led me to write it to begin with. Neither could I think any less of any person who choose to still use the Pledge of Allegiance, if that is how his or her own conscience leads them.
All I ask is that each of you reading this not take what this world presents you at face value. That, and to never cease in applying your mind, your spirit, and your body toward the vigilance that our freedom... which too many fought and died for us to enjoy... is due.