At PJ Media, John Ellis has a post entitled “Why as a Christian I Don’t Pledge Allegiance to the American Flag,” but a more apt name would have been “How to Imagine a Conflict Where None Exists.” He argues that pledging allegiance would violate his conscience as a Christian, because “I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I owe my fidelity to a sovereign King named Jesus,” and “it’s impossible to owe fidelity to two potentially competing kingdoms”:
And let’s be honest, often, and increasingly so, the concerns of the United States government are at odds with the concerns of King Jesus. What happens to allegiance during those moments? From my perspective, Christian either have to compromise their allegiance to King Jesus or demonstrate that by “I pledge allegiance to the United Stated of America” they only meant some of the time, making their “pledge of allegiance” dishonest.
With countless important crises demanding Christians’ attention–like, for instance, only a third of Christians in this country ever hearing their churches speak out against the slaughter of preborn babies—this is the crisis of conscience Ellis sees within the faith? This was important enough for a column?
To be clear, the author is obviously correct that Christians owe their allegiance to Christ above and beyond their allegiance to secular authorities. However, pledging allegiance to the flag is not pledging allegiance to any specific administration, officeholder, policy, etc. It’s not even pledging allegiance to the government itself; it’s pledging allegiance to the principles the country is founded on, and not only do those principles not conflict with Christian principles, they actually include appreciation for the Creator (as the source of our rights) and share several basic values with Christianity.
It’s completely possible to be 100% devoted to Christ and the flag simultaneously. In fact, the Pledge of Allegiance to which he’s objecting already explicitly says the nation is “under God,” so it doesn’t ask him to pervert or reverse his priorities in the slightest.
Ellis cites Massachusetts’ latest attack on religious liberty (forcing transgender dogma on churches) as an example of supposed conflict between allegiance to God and allegiance to America. But he misses the fact that by attacking religious liberty, Massachusetts is also attacking one of the constitutional principles the Pledge calls on Americans to support. So pledging allegiance to the flag doesn’t obligate us to support Massachusetts’ action, it calls on us to resist it.
For some much-needed sanity and perspective, let’s turn to one of the most beautiful commentaries on the Pledge of Allegiance ever spoken.
I desperately hope Christians don’t take the author’s misguided thinking as a reason to withdraw further from the political process; that will only give the secular radicals he fears less resistance to their efforts to extinguish religious liberty and stigmatize Christian values.