Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why Don't We Say the Pledge of Allegiance in Church?

My opinion only: this is not necessarily anyone else's position, and is certainly no official statement.
In my elementary-school days, we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning.
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 justice for all.
Yes, by the time I got to elementary school in the early 1960s, "under God" was in the Pledge. I suppose I recited these lines a thousand times.

So why don't we say the Pledge in church? We worship the Lord in church, don't we? Why not pledge allegiance to the flag? I mean, we said it in school.

I'm being rhetorical of course. We don't say the pledge of allegiance because it's not appropriate in church. The church isn't a government institution; it isn't even particularly an American institution. People from every nation, tribe, people and language are welcome to worship in church, as they will be in heaven (Revelation 7:9).

Jesus didn't have a lot of nice things to say about the government in his day. When Pilate questioned our Lord, he refused to answer and paid no attention to Pilate's power:

Pilate ... went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.

"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

John 19:8-11
No, Jesus is no fan of any human government. Neither is his Father: "the one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord holds them in derision" (from Psalm 2:4, sort of).

What about Jesus's comment that we should render unto Caesar what's Caesar's? (Matthew 22:16-21) The context there was taxes -- i.e., the government required everyone to pay taxes. Our government doesn't require us to say the Pledge in church. It doesn't require us to have a national flag on our church buildings. So that simply doesn't apply to this situation.

Besides that, it's likely Jesus didn't mean what we (or Wikipedia) usually think. This likely isn't about church/state separation; N.T. Wright points out the command from 1 Maccabees 2:68 to ‘Pay back to the Gentiles what is due to them, and keep the law’s commands’ is probably not talking about money. (from, page 5)
I want to be clear; I love my country and I have pledged allegiance to the flag and to our Republic. But the message of the gospel -- the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord -- is that there is one Lord, one Savior. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; his kingdom will last forever whereas the kingdoms of the earth are as nothing (cf. Isaiah 40:15-23).

And so it is inappropriate to say the Pledge of Allegiance in church. It is appropriate on the other hand to pray in our legislative sessions, to ask blessings of our Lord at inaugurations and other state affairs.

But when we worship the Lord we should put aside lesser things. The Pledge of Allegiance is a great and a good thing but it is too small a thing to do in church.

And how about raising the flag in church?

Frankly I'm astonished that we are even having this discussion. Should we not put away lesser things when we gather together to worship the Lord? What am I missing? Somebody help me out?

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