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3 Reasons I Won’t Say the Pledge of Allegiance

749px-JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2I love my country. I really do. This needs to be established at the top because there’s a likelihood that this post will be misunderstood or misconstrued.

There’s no anti-American sentiment leading me to write this, only a desire to communicate an important change that has happened to me in the last few years.

Here are the 3 reasons I have decided that I will no longer say the pledge:

1. I will render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s. (Matt. 22:15–22)

In this verse Jesus is responding to the question of taxes. And the gist of Jesus’ statement is that there are things that belong to Caesar (your government) and things that belong to God. Each one should be given what’s theirs.

I agree, and this is why I pay my taxes, vote, show up for jury duty, and try to be the best citizen I can be. The one thing that isn’t (and can never be) Caesar’s is my allegiance. I have given my allegiance to Christ and—push comes to shove—loyalty to my country comes second to my supreme fidelity.

I take this country’s pledge too seriously to make it lightly.

2. I am a “sojourner and exile” here. (1 Peter 2:11)

Peter reminds believers that they’re a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Scattered around the world, and visible to only Christ, is a nation of people who belong to him. These priests are required to obey the laws and pray for the leaders wherever they find themselves. They are, as Peter tells them, to “honor their emperor,” but they’re also to fear God.

As a citizen of any country, I can’t let my civic duties compete with my allegiance to the holy nation that Christ has placed me in. I am an exile living in America—an immigrant with the visa of citizenship. And while this might be one of the best countries in the world to be a sojourner in, it isn’t my true home. I am a citizen of another kingdom. And, because I can’t serve two masters, I am consecrated to that kingdom.

3. My battle is against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world. (Ephesians 6:12)

As a believer, I am called to be a critic of my culture. There’s much in this world that is diabolical, and this is often manifested in systemic evil. Whether it’s the armies of crazy third-world despots or the exploitative behavior of faceless corporations, evil seeks to kill, steal, and destroy by getting its malevolent hands into the social machinery that already exists—and no country is immune.

I cannot let my vigilance be dulled by nationalism. Even the greatest countries contribute to the world’s problems. The recognition of my sojourner status here reminds me: I can’t turn a blind eye to the systemic evils America allows while calling the rest of the world to account for its sin.

A pledge is a solemn promise, and I take it seriously. I sincerely believe my country to be a good one—maybe even one of the best ones. But in the end, I cannot give her what is not mine to give. And though I would (in many circumstances) offer her my life, I cannot give her my allegiance. That’s a promise I just can’t make.

Jayson Bradley

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love, love, love. I’m Canadian so I don’t have the same pledge, but I agree wholeheartedly and feel the same way.

    April 7, 2013
  2. Pastor Greg #

    1st off…. You cannot equate saying the pledge of allegiance with pledging to Caesar…Ceasar was a man, a person….& at that time Romans considered Ceasar as their ‘lord’ … So in essence to pledge to a Ceasar was indeed making him as your sovereign. That is not what the pledge is all about. I have read your article & can see your points, if it’s good for you…then great, but do not judge or get down on anyone that doesn’t feel the same as you. Upon reading your article, I think that you are making too much of the’plegde of allegiance’…. we can give our ‘allegiance’ to many things….I pledged a vow of allegiance & commitment to my wife when I got married….that doesn’t mean Im not committed to God….God wants more than your allegiance….He wants your heart, mind, & soul (Mark 12:30). ME saying the American Pledge of allegiance doesn’t diminish my allegiance, heart, love, & commitment to God one bit. It’s not like we only have 1 allegiance to give to something or someone & that’s it… & by your very words you have said that you have given allegiance to America… By saying you would give your life for it if it need be. You have indirectly spoken out of both sides of your mouth here. You won’t verbally say the pledge, but you give your allegiance in the fact that you would be willing to lay down your life for the country. ….
    ….one more thing….you stated that a pledge is a solemn promise …we make those a lot & it doesn’t mean we love God less….He is #1 & that will not change 🙂
    I’m not telling you what you should or should not do in regards to convictions (Romans 14), I just feel that maybe this one should ave been kept between you & God or until someone asks you ‘why’…. In Christ’s love, Greg I

    April 8, 2013
    • Greg,

      Thanks for your numerous comments. I will respond to them in turn (I won’t respond again because I have no desire to turn this into a drawn-out argument).

      1. You are correct about the nature of Caesar in contrast to America; it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. This doesn’t change my point and I think the extrapolation stands. America gets from me what is hers, and I have decided that doesn’t include a pledge.

      2. There is nothing in this post that looks down on anyone who feels differently. In fact, I expect that most will not agree with me. I am okay with that. I am sorry if my personal conviction feels like an attack on you. It isn’t.

      3. You’re right about my allegiance to a spouse. The difference I see is that I didn’t wake up in a house with the expectation that I would pledge allegiance to the woman in it based entirely on the fact that it’s her house. On some level we, like people in any culture, are expected to swear an oath of allegiance to the country we’re in based entirely on the fact that we find ourselves there.

      Furthermore, my relationship with my spouse is an allegiance based on the consent of two sentient beings. This is different than pledging allegiance to a country that is only relatively aware of me and may not always have my (or my neighbors) best interests at heart.

      4. I did say I would give my life in certain circumstances but not my allegiance. This is still true. And in the end this isn’t me speaking out of both sides of my mouth. I can not be sure that I would have shown up for the draft to Vietnam but I might have responded to Nazi Germany or the attack on Pearl Harbor.

      The pledge, in my opinion, is a present and future promise of my loyalty. In light of the fact that I do not always agree with the aggressive decisions made by my country, I cannot in good conscious take that oath.

      5. My favorite comment here is that it ends with what appears to be an admonition keep my opinions to myself. I apologize for making you frustrated, but I kind of expected it (not from you personally of course). But part of the pledge you defend so well is liberty for all, which includes the freedom to share my views.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond,

      April 8, 2013
  3. Pastor Greg #

    Oh….wait… One more thing….do you realize that our pledge actually pledges to God being sovereign and our country is under Him?

    April 8, 2013
    • Greg,

      Yeah, but under which God? In this great melting pot, there are many people who worship a great many things. If this “God” of the pledge is Yahweh, then I am not comfortable expecting my Muslim/atheist/Buddhist/Hindu/etc. neighbor to make pledges to a country under a God they don’t serve. It makes the pledge meaningless.

      If “one nation, under God” means any God you happen to serve, then it’s an empty part of the pledge that, while appealing to the devotional nature of many Americans, doesn’t really mean anything specific.

      Lastly, there is not often stuff that comes out of the government during any administration (this is a non-partisan issue) that says that the “under God” portion of the pledge is more than window dressing anyway.

      April 8, 2013
  4. Pastor Greg #

    hopefully you received my 2 other replies…. I thought of this as well… when one says the pledge of allegiance…it is simply implying that AMERICA is your country… one that you will fight for, stick up for, live in, & support… ..not Russia, or Canada, or Britain, or Germany, or Sudan, or Brazil…etc. etc. etc….. it’s basically saying… “hey, I’m an American & I support America”. That’s pretty much it… & what is BEAUTIFUL is what I said in my last post…. the pledge puts in proper context where America fits with God… America is not equal with God, it’s not above God, IT’S UNDER GOD!! 🙂

    April 8, 2013
    • I don’t need to imply that my country is America. My tax statement, drivers license, and social security number all imply that my country is America. I love my country and I support it. Where I feel she is right, I will support her and where I feel she isn’t, I will conscientiously object. If all the pledge is to you is saying, “Hey, I’m an American and I support America” that’s great. For myself, I don’t agree. As I said before, this blog post wasn’t an attack on your personal convictions. I support them 100%.

      April 8, 2013
    • Chris Wooden #

      America is not under one god….it’s under many, many gods. We can’t practice religious elitism; this isn’t a theocracy. So, America is under god- Jehovah, Allah, the god of self, the god of science, the god of money, etc. The idea that America is a Christian nation is a disservice to all (Christians included). Sure, many Christians WANT it to be a nation under their God, but it’s not.

      April 8, 2013
  5. As a citizen of any country, I can’t let my civic duties compete with my allegiance to the holy nation that Christ has placed me in. I am an exile living in America—an immigrant with the visa of citizenship.

    This perspective is shared by the author of a 2nd century text titled Epistle to Diognetus. In it, he rather eloquently states:

    For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech … They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.

    It seems to me that, since the very beginning, Christians have been distinguished as those who are citizens of a different sort of kingdom than those of this present age.

    In peace,

    April 10, 2013
    • Wow Gabe,

      That’s a great quote. I love it! Thanks for reading and responding!

      April 10, 2013
  6. Mmj #

    I haven’t been able to SAY the pledge or cover my heart while others say it since I first visited a 3rd world country 10 years ago. It’s hard to explain, but I think the bottom line is that I just want to be a Christian. I don’t need a nationalistic label to define me. I love my country, the same way I love my neighborhood, my house and my job. But I do not love it the same way I love my family or my church. I see no need to elevate it in a public proclamation. However, I do stand in respect of others who are choosing to pledge.

    I “pledge my allegiance” by following the laws and paying my taxes.

    July 30, 2013
  7. I completely agree, Jayson. Another important thing to remember here is that we are not only sojourners and exiles, but we are also ambassadors for God’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20). I think this perspective helps to explain how we can love and support the country in which we reside while still refusing to say the pledge, participate in its military, etc. An ambassador in a foreign country would never be expected to do these things.

    August 2, 2013
  8. Bethany #

    Good post! Another example is that if I as an American were living in another country temporarily, I wouldn’t be able to vote if I wanted, or participate in anything that required citizenship. But I still would care about what was happening in that country as I would be living there, even if not permanently. So we as Christians do care about our society and what is happening in America, but are sojourners and our allegiance should only be to God.

    August 19, 2013
  9. gregg grinnell #

    my problem was alway a pledge of allegiance to the flag…….I will pledge to a country but not its symbol….sort of when people talk about desecrating the flag….it ain’t sacred so it can’t be desecrated….

    November 5, 2013

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