Patriotic idolatry

Every nation on this planet has a flag, as do the individual States and territories of the United States of America. Originally written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, the Pledge of Allegiance was published as part of a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of North America:

I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

A bold statement, indeed, and it has since become part of the United States Code. Much of the history of the pledge since that time has been controversial. In its current form, the pledge reads as follows:

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.1

At first glance, many do not give much thought to this statement. You are declaring your allegiance to the country, or so this statement would have you believe. You are, in actuality, declaring your allegiance to an idol, a material representative of the republic.

This form of political and patriotic idolatry has gone largely unnoticed. The flag is a symbol of the United States, just like the Great Seal of the United States of America is also a symbol of the United States, yet we don’t pledge or swear allegiance to that.

Much of the controversy behind the current pledge deals with two simple words: "under God". Whenever a threat is made to remove those two words, the Christian majority of this country sounds an alarm. How dare those words be removed. After all, this is a Christian nation, right? Does no one see the hypocrisy? I’ll admit I only recently realized it myself.

Recently a dear friend of mine posted this to her Facebook wall (minor corrections included):

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. REPOST IF YOU THINK OUR COUNTRY AND OUR FLAG DESERVE RESPECT! Let’s see how many Americans will repost it???

My response is this, derived from the Oath of Allegiance provided in the Code of Federal Regulations2:

I do declare and solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

I bear no allegiance to the flag of the United States, just as I bear no allegiance to the Great Seal of the United States. Both are symbols of this country, and anyone declaring allegiance to either is exercising political and patriotic idolatry and it is inappropriate.

My allegiance lies with the Constitution of the United States, for without it, we have no United States. Everyone’s allegiance should lie with the Constitution, not the flag. Declare and solemnly affirm that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

References   [ + ]

1. 4 USC § 4
2. 8 CFR Part 337