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  • Writer's pictureStaci Sweet

Disrespecting the Flag

Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I was taught not to stand for the Pledge. Though my regular teachers knew my religion, almost without fail, every substitute would be so disheveled, that they’d grab me by my arm and scold me in the hallway. Because my childish rebuttal often left them speechless, I was usually hauled to the Principal’s office where the substitute usually found herself in trouble. At the time, I never quite understood why we weren’t allowed to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. But as a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, I NOW fully understand.

Patriotism, Race, or Police Brutality

As for the NFL National Anthem Policy issue, at first, I sided with Colin Kaepernick, because I know his intent was not to ‘disrespect the flag’, but to take a stand on police brutality. But it’s been two whole years and the league, as well as prominent political figures, still think it’s about ‘respecting our flag’. So as opposed to making a decision or taking a stand based on patriotism, race, or where I fair on the police brutality issue, I decided to look at the issue from a biblical point of view and go to the heart of the contention – the flag.

Photo Credit: USA Today Whatever side of the flag you’re on, we can all agree that our country was established because the founding fathers wanted religious liberty. So why don’t we start there? Let’s start on common ground and all agree that the founding fathers were Christian and as such, used the Bible for establishing a lot of our norms. Can we at least agree on that? Good. Since they were Christians, is it safe to assume that they believed in the Bible? Yay! Two for two. Now we’re getting somewhere. So, since the founding fathers were Christian and believed in the Bible, let’s find out what the Bible says about the flag.

The Flag vs. The Bible

Exodus 20:4-6 says, ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.’ A carved image would be considered an idol. Which for all intents and purposes, the flag has become an idol of sorts. How so? Well, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an idol is defined as, ‘an object of extreme devotion1.’ The flag is the object to which citizens of our nation pledge their devotion and/or allegiance. Let’s take a look at the Pledge;

"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 all2.

Allegiance is defined as, ‘devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause3.’ Therefore, when a Christian pledges their devotion and loyalty to the flag or the cause to which the flag represents, they are in fact going against the very Bible to which the cause was based. The cause for the flag, in a nutshell, was for religious liberty, which meant to have the freedom to serve God. But God said not to make anything in the image of something (i.e., a flag), for the sole purpose of expressing our devotion. Understanding that after their victory the colonists wanted to establish a national symbol, such as they’d seen in their home country; to which we now have the flag, the Pledge, and songs to boot. But could they have ignorantly carried over idolatrous symbols and traditions that went against the very freedom for which they stood?

Patriotism vs. Christianity

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for our military and all the liberties our country affords. But should I be forced to pledge my devotion to a flag? Not saying that what it represents isn’t important. But I think the point God was trying to make, is that instead of pledging our devotion and allegiance to a flag or to the Republic, we should obey, serve, and devote ourselves solely to Him. Now, I’m not saying Kaep knew this when he kneeled, and neither am I saying the NFL Commissioner, who by the way is a Christian, is aware that as Christians we aren’t supposed to pledge our allegiance to a flag, but it is food for thought.

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3- Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

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