“Freedom isn’t free” and “everything has been bought with a price” are statements we hear and use often. When it comes to our freedoms and liberties as citizens of the United States of America, we can rest assured those freedoms and rights did not come free, and it has cost many their very lives. When it comes to standing with and for those very freedoms and liberties some would suggest we sit it out. Erik Nielson in a blog post for the Huffington Post recently wrote an article entitled; “Stand up for Liberty by Sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance”. Mr. Nielson suggests to readers in his article that sitting out and not participating in the Pledge of Allegiance is a strong stance for liberty and freedom. Throughout the article he suggests reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is an authoritarian ritual placed on people which has no rightful place in our country and furthermore is highly offensive and unconstitutional concerning the statement “under God”. While the writer does an excellent job stating his opinions and concerns, I do take exception with his reasoning and lack of factual information.
Let’s start by looking at the Pledge of Allegiance. “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 liberty and justice for all.” These are the words adopted by our government, a government chosen by voters to represent them and their beliefs in 1954 by President Eisenhower and Congress. These words often recited at sporting events, government proceedings and schools nationwide serve as a reminder to all that our country has and continues to stand for.
To pledge according to Webster’s dictionary is to make a “solemn promise or undertaking”. As we recite the Pledge of Allegiance what is the action, or promise we are taking? We promise allegiance to the Flag of the United States and the Republic the Flag represents which is the United States of America. There are freedoms and liberties granted to us because we are citizens. Furthermore, there are responsibilities associated with those freedoms. As citizens, we are to stand for all that our republic represents and provides within the Constitution of the United States of America. In the reciting of the pledge, we also recognize we are a nation under God, meaning we believe in a higher power, that which is greater than any one person or government and in an alignment of our founding fathers who choose to recognize God in their early writings and articles. The remaining words, “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” are powerful and at the core of our democracy. We are pledging that we will not be divided by race, religion, ethnicity or power of government. We are undertaking the belief that all men are created equal, and there is liberty and justice for all.
I find it complexing the author has such a hard time with saying the pledge and all that it stands for, yet wholeheartedly supports and enjoys his liberties and freedom, but he won’t say the pledge that is verbally acknowledging the freedoms he so desires. By his own “sitting out” he is stating for all surrounding him, he will not solemnly promise to uphold the United States or the liberties and justice he currently enjoys at others expense.
It is important to point out; Mr. Nielson alludes to “separation of church and state” as being a part of the constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States of America are those words rendered. Those words were spoken originally by Virginia Baptists because they did not want to be obligated to a state church, the words were then championed by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The statement was not meant or implied to keep the church out of government/state, yet the opposite, to keep government/state from interfering and governing the church. Many today has misinterpreted this statement and its context and have used it for agenda purposes. While it is to be understood that all are free to worship and believe they want to in the United States, there is also nothing constitutionally wrong with our government admitting to a God and the recognition of God. Bill Flax, a writer for Forbes Magazine, wrote an excellent article concerning the definition of separation of church and state.
I was brought up with the idea that if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I am afraid if we don’t stand for the pledge of allegiance and the principles there within, we will have future generations who will fall for anything and in time will not enjoy the benefits of the liberties and freedoms provided them today!
Neilson, A. (2013). Stand up for liberty by sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erik-nielson/the-pledge-of-allegiance_b_2991729.html