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The Pledge of Allegiance 

This is a review of the history, context, and content of the Pledge of Allegiance viewed through the lens of a Biblical Christian worldview.

History of the Pledge of Allegiance

The American Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, and it was first recited in the same year by 12 million schoolchildren, on October 12th, to recognize the 400-year anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus. It read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic, for which it stands,—one nation, indivisible—with liberty and justice for all.”

This original version was changed in the 1920’s in order to be specific to the United States flag, due to its use for reciting by immigrants seeking US citizenship :

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,—one nation, indivisible—with liberty and justice for all.”

During World War II, there was a public outcry because school children were pledging allegiance in a stance similar to the “Nazi salute”. Roosevelt, president in 1942, declared the pledge should be “rendered by standing with the right hand over the heart”.

In 1943 the Supreme Court ruled that no student can be forced to participate in the pledge.

Finally, in 1954, Eisenhower pressed Congress to add the words, “under God” to the pledge. In Eisenhower’s words, “it would reaffirm the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future and strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.” The final version then became:

“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.”

Since that time, there have been challenges to the words “under God” based on potential violation of the 1stAmendment. However, to date, these cases have been either not taken up by the Supreme Court, or rejected. 

What does the Pledge of Allegiance really say?

It is always helpful to break things down into their component parts and, by viewing each component, one can put a phrase back together without the gaslighting that seems to be occurring on a regular basis on hot-button topics like Christian Nationalism or Christian Theocracy. With that in mind:

I pledge allegiance – allegiance in this context is defined by Webster as, ‘loyalty by a citizen to a government”. Of course, there are many in this country who are not comfortable with expressing loyalty to our government. This sad reality is true at all extremes (conservative and liberal) based on distrust. However, even in mainstream America, a Pew Research study this year showed as high as 65% of Americans polled believed that political candidates run for office to serve their own personal interests rather than that of the country.  

To the flag of the United States of America – Our flag, as is true with most countries, represents leaders who make, adjudicate and enforce a moral code through laws. Clearly, the distrust Americans have in the media and our elected leaders is evidenced by our disrespect for the flag. However, for those patriotic to this country, the flag has a broader meaning. It also represents pride in our accomplishments (separate from a failing government) and the commitment and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. 

And to the republic for which it stands – A republic is defined simply as ‘the government’. So again, the flag is a symbol and the republic is the actual entity that sets the laws and is called to protect the populace under its jurisdiction. Sadly, there are many who believe the “republic” is failing on both counts. Moral laws are being ignored and our military is being undermined by reduced readiness and a lack of patriotism. 

One nation, indivisible – Our strength as a nation comes from our unity in the face of economic, political, and military encroachment. We are not one nation and we are tribal rather than indivisible. Many in power and in our country have lost the will to fight for this nation. We are fat, lazy, and angry. A perfect recipe for rapid deterioration. History from other cultures, such as the Greeks and the Romans, suggests it is only a matter of time before China is successful in its efforts to overtake us on multiple levels. Only the heartland of America can save us as a nation. 

Under God – As God is the Creator of all things, we and the rest of the world are, “under God”. However, the insertion of these two words by Eisenhower was intended to represent much more than that. Eisenhower was suggesting that our spirituality was our strongest “resource in peace and war”. That is no longer the case and the consequences are being felt exponentially.

With liberty and justice for all – Webster defines liberty as “the quality or state of being free” and defines justice as “the quality of being just, impartial, or fair”. This phrase is the culmination of the desire of the original author, as well it should be for everyone who states it, with their right hand over their heart. However, few believe the America we live in today represents either freedom or justice. The majority of us navigate through the day avoiding what we see as the state of our country, hoping someone else will fix things to our liking. While, at the same time, the extremes continue yelling at each other while the media and politicians play to their base. 

My View on the Pledge of Allegiance

When I salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I am not saluting the government. I am saluting those who truly sacrificed for our freedom. I am saluting those who go above the call of duty to protect us (police, first responders, the military). I am saluting rural America which still largely holds to traditional values of Christian morality. To be patriotic, to express Christian Nationalism through allegiance to this nation, is not to condone past administrations or present ones. It is to promote a Biblical Christian worldview inside what was, and for some still is, the greatest nation in the world. Respectfully, I believe that the more we lose our grip on that ideal (however muddy and sin-filled our nation has become) the closer we are to a fallen country which, in turn, will allow Satan to raise up truly totalitarian rule from countries like China and Russia. They and Satan want nothing better than Americans losing all sense of patriotism and nationalism, especially as it becomes a cancer undermining our military readiness. 

POSTSCRIPT….

There are parts of this article that were poorly written. Fortunately a reader I highly respect offered his thoughts. Quoting from the post above…

First, saying that “to be patriotic… is to promote a Biblical Christian Worldview” is dead wrong at best and heretical at worst. I apologize for such a stupid set of adjoining statements.

Second, there is no question that Christian Nationalism, taken too far, is a form of idolatry. However, one can also say that in many areas of life. For example, the application of the phrase “I am at church whenever the doors are open”, can be idolatry toward church attendance for its own sake. However, in the culture we live in, I would submit that a little more patriotism and a little more church attendance are good things for the average American, given how far the average person is from the extremes that would be recognized as idolatry.

Third, I said, “Only the heartland of America can save us as a nation”. Again, a rather shallow and unsupported unforced writing error. To my commenter’s point, I agree that only God can save our nation. My point was that, in my view, Biblical Christianity is strongest in the heartland of America. However, that may have been what I was thinking, but it was not what I said.


AuthorJeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org

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