Pledging Allegiance to Liberty

Gene Healy of Cato and blogging fame makes a powerful argument against conservative devotion to statist rituals:

It's probably too much to ask politicians to reflect a little before they lunge for a political hot-button issue. But any conservatives so inclined should think about what they're defending. What's so conservative about the Pledge?

Very little, as it turns out. From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit-pounding sermons on such topics as "Jesus the Socialist."

...[I]t's ironic to see conservatives rally to such a questionable custom. Why do so many conservatives who, by and large, exalt the individual and the family above the state, endorse this ceremony of subordination to the government? Why do Christian conservatives say it is important for schoolchildren to bow before a symbol of secular power? Indeed, why should conservatives support the Pledge at all, with or without "under God"?

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Oh, come on! Don't you

Oh, come on! Don't you remember all those big God'n'Caesar rallies the Church had every July 4, back in Nero's day? Or all those SPQR standards flying on the antenna of every oxcart in Rome?

Seriously, I think this whole "God'n'Country" thing probably has its roots in America's Calvinist background. The Brits went through the same thing in the seventeenth century with the Scottish "National Covenant," to which the Presbyterian English Parliament later subscribed.

Ever notice how American fundies always like to quote II Chronicles 7:14 ("If my people, which are called by my name...") on the Fourth of July? It originally referred to Israel--not Israel as one of "the nations," but the congregation of Israel as the Old Testament church. To treat a covenant with a secular nation as analogous to the religious covenant on which the Church was founded, would have been regarded by historic Christianity as utterly blasphemous.

Nationalism precedes

Nationalism precedes fascism...

Although I should also add

Although I should also add that I do say the Pledge when asked to and have no problem doing so...

I'm relatively, appropriately patriotic, in fact.

It's a public display for

It's a public display for the love of one's country. Patriotism is an important value to most conservatives. I focus on the words, not the writer.

Sean, The setting is what


The setting is what bugs me. It is not nessarily a voluntary expression of patriotism. It is indoctrination in a fascist environment (public schools). I babbled the words when I was in school but had no idea what they meant nor gave much thought to it until I had graduated college. I certainly would not want my kid to say it, but then again, I would not send my kid to a public school.

I also disagree with some of the message of the pledge, but that's another issue.

I maintain that the Pledge

I maintain that the Pledge is exactly backwards. Here is what it should say:

"I believe in Liberty and Justice for all people.

To the extent the Republic of the United States upholds this, I support it.

And so far as the flag represents this Republic, I show it respect."

As a comment, comparing the government of the United States to other governments past and present makes it worthy of an enormous amount of admiration and support from me. But because all governments deal in the realm of force, they are all ripe for abuse. They require constant and enormous effort to keep them from deteriorating into tyrannies, let alone to improve them.

Of course, holding these views will probably prevent my wife from passing her US Citizenship examinations.