Saturday, September 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the Pledge of Allegiance

Government educators against allegiance to the nation and government.  More evidence for vouchers.

In the link below, the author asks whether Christians can learn anything from Colin Kaepernick?  Yes, they can.  They can learn that being a millionaire and living in a Constitutional Democracy affords one the privilege to protest one's country based on trumped up charges about cops unsupported by anything resembling a decent argument.  Much more beyond that, I can't say.

But here is more. Christians can learn that Kaepernick is just acting like the first century church in not pledging his allegiance to the modern day Rome. Give it a read and see what you think.  I don't want to linger on the obvious fact that pledging allegiance to Rome and the U.S. are disanalogous in several salient ways, one way being that pledging allegiance to Caesar was also an acknowledgment of him as divine.  Instead, I wish to comment briefly on the following:

"[T]o pledge allegiance is a profoundly religious act."*

This strikes me as not only false, but fairly obviously so.  The Pledge of Allegiance has been in public schools for decades and in one form or another in existence for over a century, and I know of no Supreme Court challenge to it per se as violating the Second Amendment's Establishment Clause.  There have been arguments against it on the basis of its inclusion of "under God," but not on the basis of the act of pledging allegiance itself. (These arguments, I might add, are specious, since "under God" affirms theism in general and no particular religion.  Judges would do well to dwell for a moment on this fact).  If pledging allegiance to the U.S. were a religious act, government officials would be in violation of the Establishment Clause all the time.  In fact, any distinction between the secular and the religious in most public affairs would be impossible in the United States of America.  The plain fact that such a distinction is not only possible, but actual, gives the lie to the claim that pledging allegiance is a religious act, let alone a profound one.

A pledge is a promise, allegiance a loyal commitment. We make and pledge allegiance all throughout life to various people and causes.  I promise a loyal commitment to my family, friends, church, city, state, and country.  I'm religious, but non-religious people do the same.  But there are few who think that all pledges are absolute and inviolable.  Such pledges come with the tacit acknowledged that the pledges are conditional.  No one thinks that if the United States were to turn into a Stalinist regime--violating objective norms of justice on a grand scale--that all who have pledged to her obedience remain duty bound.  And few think that if your spouse is found out to be engaged in sex-trafficking, that a pledge of allegiance requires being an accomplice.

So too the pledges are hierarchical.  God-family-friends-local community-state-country (or at least this is the order of a right thinking conservative).  Such a hierarchical acknowledgment is perhaps implied in the Pledge of Allegiance itself--at least in its most popular form today.  "I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America....One nation under God...."  The nation is under GodWhat does this mean?  The phrase is ambiguous.  It could mean that God is high above in the heavens. It could mean that the nation is divinely favored by God.  According to the previous link, Congressional testimony suggests instead that it points to the fact that belief in God has been a significant part of the nation's heritage and foundation.  The phrase arose because of opposition to the U.S.S.R.which was communist and Marxists, and therefore atheistic.  If there is anyone whose pledge of allegiance to the state is a pseudo-religious act, it is the Marxist-communist; for him, the material world is all that there is and the state the closest thing to an omnipotent agent.

* It is doubtful that when one sings the National Anthem that one is pledging allegiance to anything at all.  The act seems more of an expression of gratitude for the goods one has received from one's nation and a degree of solidarity rather than a promise of any sort.

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