Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Remember Who You Are Rendering Unto

Perpetually aggrieved Fox News columnist Todd Starnes, always good for a post to get the patriotic-religious industrial complex frothing at the mouth, is outraged, outraged I say!, that parents have the ability to request that their children not be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance: Parents fuming over Pledge of Allegiance 'waiver'. The horror! In general people who label themselves "Christian conservatives" are all about parental rights. The school and the state should be firmly in second place at best when it comes to what is right for kids, way behind the primacy of parents. If it comes to graphic sex education, parents absolutely have the right to insist that their children not be required to sit through it. When it comes to children being forced to recite a pledge of fealty to a secular state and do so in the generic name of "God" though? That smells like commie subversiveness to me! Why exactly is it OK to force families to acquiesce to the demands of the state when it comes to a loyalty oath made to a flag but not when it comes to sex ed?

I will let you in on a little secret. I don't recite the Pledge when I am at civic events where it is being recited. I don't make my kids recite it in home school. I would not make and would actually discourage my kids from reciting it in public. The Pledge is a pledge of allegiance to a flag which represents a secular republic. That is bad enough. When you falsely invoke the name of God, it is serving to conflate the United States of America with the Kingdom of God. The U.S. is no more "under God" than any other nation.Why would any Christian who has as his or her first fealty to the Kingdom of God ruled by Christ object to someone not having a child recite a pledge of loyalty somewhere else? The Bible tells us quite a bit about the danger of having split loyalty and yet the most vocal advocates of forcing kids to recite the Pledge are usually "Christians".

At most levels of schooling, I can't imagine kids understand the implications of pledging allegiance to a flag. For little kids it is just something you say because an authority figure and peer pressure make you say it but it creates an image in the mind of America as uniquely "under God" and helps to foster the patriotic fervor needed by the state to manipulate citizens. I would cautiously suggest that at the worst, the Pledge is a sort of soft brainwashing. Get a kid to repeat the pledge over and over often enough and pretty soon that sort of loyalty to country gets deeply embedded in the mind, the kind of loyalty to state that is needed to get people to take up arms and go kill people in another country because of a threat, real or imagined, to the republic who's flag they swear allegiance to.

Forcing kids to repeat a pledge they don't understand the ramifications of over and over and then getting outraged when some parents don't want their kids participating is about the least Kingdom minded and most un-American thing I can think of. No one who loves Christ and loves this country should want anyone to be forced by the state to swear allegiance to a flag. The freedom of expression, the freedom of association and the freedom of religion are in the First Amendment for a reason and that amendment is where it is for a reason. If you think the hope for the future of America rests on forcing kids to participate in the Pledge, this country is worse off than you think and you don't really understand America, or at least what America is supposed to be about.

Todd Starnes is one of those who appeal to the basest emotions and give credence to people who think conservative Christians are mullet-wearing, knuckle-dragging ignoramuses. What is really irritating is that someone purports to champion American and Christian values when his column appears on the Fox News webpage above the tawdry links to the latest sex tapes, wardrobe malfunctions and other scandalous "news". What is likewise irritating is that on every single issue, the "conservative" position is on more solid intellectual grounds than the "progressive" position but instead of relying on a powerful and cogent argument we get breathless warnings about the "progressive" bogeyman who doesn't want every kid to pledge allegiance to a flag. The conservative and the Christian position in our society is on pretty shaky ground in large part due to this sort of flag waving silliness. So please Mr. Starnes, don't do the church or 'Murica any more favors.

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