Confession 46: I Don’t Say the Pledge of Allegiance

My students are working on a multi-genre research project at the moment in which they have to research the life of a prominent American, create several pieces in different genres which reflect the values and beliefs of that individual, and then create several other pieces which reflect their own ideas around the concept of the American Dream. I’ve put together a sample project for them, and one of the genres I chose to express myself in was a blog entry. So, I thought I’d go ahead and post it.

Here it is:

I am not a patriot. Don’t get me wrong, I love the United States and am grateful for the life I live within its confines. I appreciate the freedom I have and am thankful every day for the men and women who have worked to secure that freedom. However, it is precisely because I value the freedom and ideals this country was built upon that I cannot call myself a patriot. In recent years, I have seen the term patriot become synonymous with zealot and patriotism synonymous with nationalism. One of the biggest issues I have is that the state of Missouri requires all public schools to engage in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance on a weekly basis. I never do this in my classroom, and although that could be considered a form of insubordination, I believe that in refusing to say the Pledge I am upholding the rights of American citizens. How can a government supposedly founded on liberty make a law requiring its citizens to verbally pay homage to it? This, I believe, is oxymoronic.

There are two other reasons I refuse to say the Pledge. First, I believe that God comes before country. As a Christian, my allegiance is to God and my purpose is to further the kingdom on earth, not to further the doctrines of the United States. Second, I cannot in good conscious pledge myself to something which our government does not uphold. Take a moment to look consider 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 all

Although we may at one point have been one nation under God, statistically and culturally speaking, we are no longer that nation. Although the majority of Americans still profess to a Christian faith, our numbers present in weekly worship throughout the country would beg to differ. More than that, we have become a multi-faith nation, with many Americans professing no faith at all.

As for indivisibility, anyone looking at the election map on CNN during the past presidential campaign can see that we are clearly, color-coatedly, a nation divided. We do not all hold to the same beliefs and principles, nor should we. That’s the beauty of being an American!

Finally, and probably most importantly, is the concept of liberty and justice for all. If that is the case, why are the majority of people tried in our court systems lower-income and/or non-white? Why do African-Americans still pay more on average for home mortgages than Euro-Americans? Why do athletes and celebrities get away with murder, literally, and I get pulled over for running a stop sign?

The Pledge of Allegiance is noble in theory, but silly in practice. I love my country, that’s why I live here. That’s the reason I teach in the public school system, that’s the reason I vote on election day, that’s the reason I give money to the Veteran’s Association. If you want to judge my patriotism, look at my actions, don’t mandate my speech.

Blessings and Peace,