Allegiance to the Flag

US FlagThis may come across a bit nit-picky or trivial in nature, but I think it is important in principle. I assure you that I only have the best intentions, and don’t want to offend anyone, or sound un-American or un-patriotic. I merely hope to cause you to think more about what you are saying when you recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.

To start off let me make one point clear about the origin of the pledge. I’m sure there are many people that ignorantly think the pledge of allegiance came from our founding fathers. The reality is that the pledge came about over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence and the creation of our Constitution. It was authored by the Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892. It was another 53 years before Congress officially recognized it as the national pledge in 1945. So it was well beyond the “founding fathers” time period.

One part of the pledge I’d like you to consider is the phrase, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, AND to the Republic for which it stands…”. What does this mean?

We are clearly pledging our allegiance towards two entities, the flag, AND the Republic. I understand and agree we all should have allegiance towards the Republic. But, what does it mean to hold allegiance to a flag?

A flag is simply an object which represents our country. We shouldn’t pledge allegiance to the flag itself, it should be to the Republic. And the Pledge already clearly contains a separate pledge of allegiance to the Republic. So, why do we pledge an allegiance in a material flag?

Having an allegiance, duty, obligation or loyalty to a flag seems odd. In fact there are some groups who feel this is idolatry. I wouldn’t go that far, but I certainly see how they can come to that conclusion. From an outsider it could easily be misconstrued as a type of worship. Worship means to adore and pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration; to perform ritual exercises in honor of. When a U.S. flag passes by do we not stand in silent reverence, salute, and even recite our obligatory allegiance towards it. Before World War II we saluted the flag by extending the arm toward the Flag at moment the phrase “to the Flag” was recited, and it remained outstretched during the rest of the pledge, with the palm facing upward, as if to lift the flag. With this in mind, I think I know people who pay more respect to the flag than they do to their own religion.

If we are trying to protect the sacred and honor of the flag and what it represents, there is no need for a pledge of allegiance to it, we already have our U.S. flag code which protects the flag and defines how it is handled and treated.

Do you feel that the beginning of the Pledge of Allegiance should be changed to read…

“I pledge allegiance to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God…”?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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