I went to catechism class last night and met up with some old friends. I wasn’t in the best mood, but seeing them made my night.
Correction: It made my night after the first hour.
The first hour was spent in agony as I was subjected to the usual complaints about oppression by secular society of those who dare to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
When I mention that I don’t do that, I am often asked, “Why?”
In most Christian settings, it is uncommon for Christians to object to those things. The assumption is that you are a cowardly Christian who does not want to show his faith. Or that you are an oppressed, brainwashed Christian who needs to be rescued. Or that you are not Christian at all. You are a New Age spiritualist, an atheist, or some other anti-Christian boogeyman. How can I, someone who is none of these things, possibly side with the atheists? A word that, to them, is so filthy that they physically choke on it. I kid you not.
I could have gone the conventional route and politely explained that not everyone is Christian in America and our rituals should reflect our diversity. Instead, I took another approach.
My response: I should be asking you the same question. Pledge allegiance? Why? Why on Earth would I want to do that?
Here is a little bit of my background.
My maternal grandmother is 100% Lithuanian. My mother is half Lithuanian. She even used to be bilingual in Lithuanian and English. This, of course, makes me 1/4 Lithuanian. If my mother remembered the language, I would probably be bilingual in those languages too. Oh well. Never too late.:)
My Lithuanian ancestors fled their home country, like most people, because of the oppression they endured and the hope of a better life. During that time, Lithuanian national and cultural identity were violently oppressed by Czarist Russia, WWII, and the Soviet Union respectively. They endured forced conversions to Orthodox Christianity under the Czars and the suppression of faith in general under the Communists. This is a fresh memory for my ancestral homeland, especially since we only became independent as a nation in 1991. We have a truly breathtaking monument that documents our history of religious oppression known as the Hill of Crosses.
Sorry, but I object to conformity for the greater good. I’m sure many Russians thought they were, in their own twisted ways, saving the souls of Lithuanians by forcibly molding them into Orthodox Christians. I object to the idea that Lithuanians should have been forced to give up their identities for the sake of social stability as in the USSR.
I object to the idea of pledging allegiance to a government. It is one thing to be loyal to the best interests of your country. Preserving an identity and way of life that is under attack by a foreign power is loyalty. It is one thing to refrain from revealing information or participating in activities that endanger your country, i.e. treason. I’m not talking about that.
It is another thing entirely to pledge allegiance to symbols of the state or to a government, as in the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s idolatry, for one thing, and it’s just wrong. You don’t pledge allegiance to a government. Governments can and do have self-serving agendas and commit grave acts of evil to enforce them. Pledging allegiance to governments means, by definition, accepting and advocating the interests and actions of those governments. Governments don’t rise to power by themselves. Citizens have to consent to and promote its causes. What greater joy, what greater solace, can an evil government have than citizen lackies that will do anything for them-worship their symbols, fund their programs, fight in their wars, and die for them…for nothing.
All that is bad enough, no? Well, that’s not all
It is *yet another* thing to suggest that said state or government is blessed by God or somehow has God’s favor. How can any nation “under God” do wrong? If you oppose a nation under God, don’t you oppose God? Don’t you support evil? In the case of Communism, the gods in question were leaders like Stalin, various classes and Communist ideologies. Either way, they are blessed, all-powerful, evil, and can do no wrong.
Oh, and by the way, American Christians need to stop claiming that they are oppressed. My ancestors endured real oppression. They had to flee because of it. Don’t insult me with your claims that you are oppressed because other people don’t derive orgasmic joy from your nationalistic nursery rhymes.
I love this country. I do not engage in acts of treason or espionage. I contribute to it. I embrace its freedoms and its values, including *gasp* tolerance. I promote the common good of my people and promote American ideals in a positive, productive way. A good government can earn respect by communicating effectively and serving the common good. Any government that demands my groveling praises does not deserve my allegiance. As Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to my country? Always. Loyalty to my government? When it deserves it.”
Pledge allegiance to the flag? Why on Earth would I want to do that?