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Should Believers Pledge Allegiance to the Flag?

By Bill Petri

 

In order to answer this question, I would like to first quote the American pledge of allegiance and then give a brief history[1] before answering the question from a biblical standpoint.

“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.”

“Before we go to the Scriptures on this subject, some facts about the pledge of allegiance should be noted. First of all, the pledge was not handed down by the framers of the constitution or anyone who was involved in the independence movement. The pledge was not composed until 1892 and it was created in order to sell flags to public schools by socialist author and Baptist minister Francis Bellamy on behalf of the magazine Youth’s Companion.[2]

The original form of the pledge was as follows:

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

Notice that two modern day elements are missing. (1) the phrase “of the United States of America” is missing as well as (2) the phrase “under God.” “The first phrase was added to the modern day pledge in 1924 by the National Flag Conference so that immigrants would know to which flag they were pledging allegiance.[3]” The next phrase, “under God” was not added until 1954 when Rev. Docherty of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church preached a sermon which convinced President Dwight Eisenhower to add it. Most Americans are honestly shocked when they find out about this evolution of the pledge. We were always led to believe that the pledge was part of the constitution or perhaps it was agreed upon immediately following the Declaration of Independence. The way various “Christian” radio programs that banter about the slogan, “take America back for God” always seem to imply (at least) that the pledge was established by the framers and that to remove “under God” was tantamount to betrayal. Now that we have a bit of the history under our belts, let’s evaluate the act of pledging allegiance to America (or any nation) in light of the Scriptures. First we must define the words, “pledge” and, “allegiance.”

Pledge: To offer or guarantee by a solemn binding promise: pledge loyalty to a nation.[4]

Allegiance: [1] the loyalty of a citizen to his or her government or of a subject to his or her sovereign. [2] loyalty or devotion to some person, group, cause, or the like.[5]

            Now let’s take a look at the words of Jesus on this subject:

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.[6]

This is taken from the famous first section of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus says “you have heard…” and then quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures, from the Law of Moses, and then says “but I say unto you….” Jesus in this short paragraph overturns the common practice found throughout biblical times of making vows. He says specifically make no oath at all. This is completely unambiguous. This is a direct command, not a suggestion.. He then goes on to enumerate all the different types of oaths that should not be made (by the throne of God, by earth, etc.). Then he says, let your yes be yes or no, no. Anything beyond these is of evil. James the Apostle and brother of our Lord reiterates this instruction:

“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.[7]

It is interesting to note that he prefaces this simple command by saying “but above all…do swear not.” To pledge is to swear which is also the same as making an oath. Allegiance is to give loyalty to a government. Thus to pledge allegiance is to make an oath of loyalty to a government. This is strictly forbidden by Scripture. It is also interesting to note the Apostle to the Body of Christ, Paul, does not change or adjust these commands. There is only one government we can give allegiance to – the kingdom of God.



[1] See Apendix 3

[2] http://loveyourenemies.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/should-Believers-pledge-allegiance-to-the-flag/

[3] Laurence Vance, http://www.lewrockwell.com

[4] Funk and Wagnell’s Desk Dictionary 1983 Edition

[5] Ibid

[6] Matthew 5:33-37

[7] James 5:12



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