June 7th, 2010

Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

I do not pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

This pledge—a mechanically-repeated affirmation of loyalty inculcated in children by rote—is the legacy of the socialist progressive movement in the late 1800s. Its author, Francis Bellamy, was a self-avowed “Christian socialist” (who loved to preach that “Jesus was a Socialist”) whose primary intention in creating the pledge was to encourage children to worship the State and revere centralized authority. Francis’ cousin and co-conspirator, Edward Bellamy, was an author whose utopian novel Looking Backward trailed in popularity at the time only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur. A decade later he published Equality as a sequel, which expanded upon the ideas he has promoted in the first novel.

Looking Backward told of a future America where socialism reigned supreme; eventually surpassing one million copies, the book was translated into 20 languages. The protagonist of the book goes to sleep one night in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000, where American industries have been nationalized and everybody earns the same income. The theories and policies promoted in this book—which were essentially Marxist in ideology—were termed “Nationalism” by Edward and his cousin Francis, who were both key spokesmen for the movement.

The Bellamy cousins were not obscure figures spouting ideas into an echo chamber, but influential advocates of centralized government whose Nationalist movement saw the rise of 167 clubs across the country. John Dewey, father of the current government school system and a socialist himself, once referred to Edward Bellamy as a “Great American Prophet” and wrote:

What Uncle Tom’s Cabin was to the anti-slavery movement Bellamy’s book may well be to the shaping of popular opinion for a new social order. … It accords with American psychology in breathing the atmosphere of hope.

While Edward was the writer, Francis might be termed the “doer”. While Vice President in charge of education for the Society for Christian Socialists, Francis made a connection with one Daniel Ford, editor of a religious publication named The Youth’s Companion. Networking with other advocates of socialism and nationalization, including the then-president of the National Education Association (NEA), William Harris, who himself strongly advocated for the Prussian system of education and a centralized authority requiring the subservience and allegiance of the individual, Francis worked on a program to teach American youth the importance of loyalty to the government.

In 1892, under Harris’ leadership, the NEA supported a National Public School Celebration which promoted loyalty to both the government and its schools. The core agenda was offered up by The Youth’s Companion, and Francis Bellamy was asked to be the chairman of the celebration. Speaking during the event, Bellamy stated that “the training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State.” As part of the program he organized, Bellamy drafted a pledge to be recited by the youth in attendance as a way of encouraging loyalty to the government.

Though it has changed in minor ways since its creation, Bellamy’s pledge is largely what is today called the Pledge of Allegiance. After its introduction at this conference, Bellamy had it published in The Youth’s Companion. The following months and years found the pledge, with Bellamy’s persistent promotion, gaining increasingly widespread adoption through the school system, and later through adult organizations, eventually gaining the blessing of Congress. (Interestingly, during WWII Congress voted to change the hand gesture while saying the pledge from the “Bellamy Salute” to the gesture we now recognize, with hand placed over heart.)

Bellamy had to show some restraint in developing the pledge, as his desires to use language more closely associated with the nationalist and socialist movements would, he feared, meet with resistance. In describing some of his thoughts in creating the pledge, Bellamy stated:

It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution…with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people…

The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands.’ …And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation – the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity.’ No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all…

What Edward Bellamy wrote about in his socialist utopian novels, his cousin Francis was determined to implement. As was understood by Marx, Dewey, and by all dictators and despots throughout human history, the best way to implement an agenda is to pursue a generational campaign through influencing and/or controlling the education of children to indoctrinate them with a slow, and at first fairly innocuous, stream of ideas.

To be sure, most school-age children do not even understand the implications of the pledge they are habitually repeating, let alone realize the history and meaning behind what they are doing when reciting it. However, the daily process of making such a pledge surely ingrains in the mind of the growing child an attitude and paradigm that solidifies over time and grooms an individual to offer their allegiance to the government as an adult.

So, history aside, why all the fuss? Let’s contrast the pledge of allegiance with the oath of office mandated by the Constitution as noted in Article VI, clause 3:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

That oath reads as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

This oath has substance, and the Constitution to which the individuals’ loyalty is required is the codification of key principles worthy of our absolute support. The oath inherently has meaning, and the allegiance being affirmed by offering such an oath denotes clear responsibilities. (That so few do indeed fulfill their oath of office says more about them and their constituents than it does about the oath or the Constitution itself.)

In stark contrast we see the monotonous and largely superficial pledge of allegiance, with children throughout the country pointing their gaze to a piece of cloth—a symbol that few understand. Ask the average child (or adult, for that matter) what it means to pledge allegiance to the flag, and you’re likely to get responses that demonstrate a complete lack of understanding. Where no understanding exists, correct action cannot follow. Little wonder that the political landscape is what it is today.

If people wish to cast aside the pledge’s history and instead praise the wording and its meaning—pledging allegiance to the flag and to the Republic, affirming that we are one nation, indivisible, and that liberty and justice exist for all—then children should be taught to learn what a Republic is, what principles led us to become one nation, and why liberty and justice are inherent and God-given rights to be secured—and not provided—by government. But these types of teachings do not generally exist in public schools, and so reduced to its core and repeated on a daily basis, the pledge serves its (and Bellamy’s) purpose; children are indoctrinated with a steady dose of subservience to the State and are, over time, taught the importance of fealty to the federal government.

If a pledge is required or insisted upon by parents, then their children should be taught to pledge their allegiance to the Constitution, modeling their pledge after the oath of office the Constitution itself requires of federal officials. In so doing, children would be pointed towards the source of the Republic, and not a diversion. Symbols can be powerful tools for teaching, but they should not demand our attention and allegiance themselves. Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament with his apostles not to suggest that their minds should focus on the bread and water He gave them, but to make clear that these symbols were to be used to encourage the individual to remember His body and sacrifice; we worship Jesus Christ, and not the symbols that represent him. Similarly, we should not pledge our allegiance to the flag—a symbol of this Republic—but to the object it represents, namely, the written Constitution and the principle of liberty it exists to protect.

The idea for Bellamy’s pledge came from the “loyalty oaths” imposed on Southerners after Lincoln’s bloody war between the states. Southerners were forced upon penalty of death to affirm their allegiance to the federal government as a condition for receiving a presidential pardon. This action hardly seems like one we should be inculcating into our children, especially given the abusive, corrupt, and outright tyrannical actions being adopted by many within our federal government in recent decades.

When I am in a meeting where the pledge is being recited, so as not to ruffle too many feathers and immediately have others call into question my patriotism, I simply say a modified version of the Pledge of Allegiance which satisfies my problems with Bellamy’s version:

I pledge allegiance to the flag Constitution 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.

Where appropriate, I simply abstain from making any such pledge (or wearing any lapel pins or buttons or any other outward, superficial demonstration of one’s patriotism), preferring to let my words and actions speak for themselves in showing to whom and to what my allegiance is given.

The Bellamy cousins had in mind a project to teach American youth loyalty to the government, realizing that the then-predominant strain of individualism and passionate love of liberty inspired by the founding fathers of this country ran afoul of the socialist utopia envisioned in Looking Backward. The fact that hundreds of millions of Americans have embraced the pledge as a token of Americanism and patriotic duty, while ignoring its origins, context, and original intent, and in light of the worship of and trust in government that has permeated our society, indicates that the Bellamys were at least in some significant amount successful.

My children will be taught not to affirm their allegiance to the government, to a symbol such as the flag, or to anything but the underlying and enduring principles that created this nation to begin with. Those principles are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and our allegiance to these documents (and, more importantly, the principles and ideas themselves) is the correct action that should be taken by every concerned citizen, ardent patriot, and free-thinking individual.

47 Responses to “Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag”

  1. rmwarnick
    June 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks for the enlightening post. I didn’t know the Pledge of Allegiance was “socialist.” The elementary school I went to (in New York) did teach us about the Constitution, the (small “r”) republican form of government, and the unalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

    Not everyone is taught that well. For example, a few months ago Rep. John Boehner mixed up the Constitution and the Declaration, while holding a copy of the Constitution in his hand.

    In general, I agree with you that ostentatious displays of patriotism are far less important than service to the nation. We should all try to make America better however we are able. I believe in Theodore Roosevelt’s admonition to “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

    We’re all in it together.

  2. Clumpy
    June 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    we should not pledge our allegiance to the flag—a symbol of this Republic—but to the object it represents, namely, the written Constitution and the principle of liberty it exists to protect.

    I think this is pretty much the thesis and an important one – to salute or laud the State without context (other than a solitary “liberty and justice for all”) is just mindless nationalism. I do think that the Pledge served as a valuable learning tool however in my youth – in elementary school one of my friends refused to dignify this rite and didn’t participate, leading to an important object lesson in principle over “patriotism” and ethics over lip service.

    Connor, do you have more of a source on Bellamy’s socialist machinations behind the pledge? I’ve seen sources indicating that Bellamy was certainly in favor of his cousin’s ideas, though as somebody who doesn’t believe that socialism is necessarily a blinded worship of the state I’d like a little more concrete indication that propagating socialism was his explicit goal in crafting the Pledge.

  3. Bill
    June 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Connor, I hate to say it, because I have been very impressed with several of your other entries. I just found this one to be trivial.
    The pledge is a gesture, a sign of patriotism from those who mean it and a sign of respect from those who perform it out of a sense of obligation. Whatever it’s roots, I don’t view it any differently than the National Anthem or a prayer before a political or dinner meeting. I think we can teach our kids about the constitution without making a big issue of this. Being Jewish, I’m no happier than you at being subjected to every prayer before my political meetings being in the name of Jesus Christ, but I take it in stride because that’s the the comfort level of our society. And if we’re going to look at the “dark side” behind the pledge, will will spend equal time looking at the dark sides of our Founding Fathers and heroes as the Left does? Should we not drive Fords because Henry Ford was an admirer to Hitler? I’m sure the list would be endless. I say save the indignation for more important matters.

  4. Eric Checketts
    June 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Connor, I have to admit that you caught me off-guard with this article. At first, I had my left brow raised tightly in suspicion. But, as I read the article, I found it incredibly informative.

    Tonight, my paradigm has certainly shifted.

  5. Kelly W.
    June 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Amen, Connor! I have refused to recite the pledge for a few years now. I do not want give anyone around me the impression that I support Bush or Obama, or anything they do in support of Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel, bailouts or whatever.

  6. Jeffrey T
    June 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Connor,

    I liked this article is was informative. I stand somewhere between the claims of the article and Bill’s call for caution.

    There are a great many things we just take in stride. But maybe we shouldn’t?

    I think the two biggest problems with the pledge are (1) the word “indivisible,” and (2) the fact that it is a pledge to the flag, instead of the Constitution. Beyond that, despite the author’s nefarious intentions, the words are quite benign.

  7. Doug Bayless
    June 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    I don’t know. I *do* tend to mumble the word “indivisible” when I recite the pledge (because I think that’s an inherently unwise assertion) but overall I’m good with pledging some kind of allegiance to “the Republic for which it stands”. In my mind and heart that’s always allegiance to the founding principles of what America could and should be. I hope people never confuse my allegiance to those principles as being implicit support for, say, our unwise foreign policy actions or crazy, impossible-to-fund, bankrupt socialism experiments.

    I’m against what Spencer Kimball called “Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism” which “pervert[s] the Savior’s teaching”, but I’m good with united effort to try and have what ol’ Ben Franklin termed “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    I’d say being awake and aware of what you should and shouldn’t be pledging is pretty important — so I appreciate your blog post very much. But I’m still good with pledging allegiance to the Republic (‘for which the flag stands’) for now. Maybe I’m caught in one of those “Princess Bride” interior-alternate-realities though where, well, you don’t think ‘that word’ means what *I think* it means. :)

    You’ve certainly set me to pondering and I suppose that’s good.

  8. Darrel
    June 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Interesting. I never knew the history of the allegiance. Growing up I always felt proud to repeat it, knowing that our country was built and preserved with the help of God. I was pledging my allegiance to the principles upon which our country was founded. That same feeling returns when I hear the national anthem played on loud speaker on campus and I stop and remember all that has been done to allow me the freedoms and opportunities I enjoy.

    Seeing it in this light, though, does raise concern. It makes me think that there are better ways to instill loyalty to our founding principles with our youth than using this pledge. It does have a rank smell of idolatry – focusing faith on the product rather than its source. This kind of twisting the focus of our dedications to a symbol or product of founding principle and away from its source can easily lead many to forget and reject that source.

    Very enlightening, Connor. Thank you.

  9. Dave P.
    June 8, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    Ah yes, the Pledge of Allegiance is to the State as to what the primary song “Follow the Prophet” is to the church. Both need to go!

  10. Yin
    June 8, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    I think it’s important to be knowledgeable and learn about things and their origins, but I also totally agree with the points Bill made. Those origins may not be relevant or important, when the current meaning of something is taken into account.

    Thanks to your post, I know more about the origins of the pledge. I’ll continue to say it, though, because of what it stands for now. And because of what it means to me personally. That, to me, is more important than what it meant or stood for back in the day.

  11. Greg
    June 8, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I am with you. I decided the same not too long ago, though from a different perspective.

  12. Jeremy
    June 8, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    I am with Greg, Jeff and Bill on this one. I find the history fascinating. I am not particularly perturbed by “indivisible” in that I see that as what we want to be and a large degree of what we are. I think it’s a given that division is possible, and over a long period of time inevitable.

    It does bother me that you pledge allegiance to the flag itself, something which people say, but mean something else. The pledge, however nefarious it’s beginnings, is currently an outward show of patriotism. The wording isn’t perfect, but in the end it’s semantics really. Would I like to see that changed? You bet. Is it up there with what I’m worried about. Nope, it can never change and likely it won’t matter much. As long as you know where you personally stand, I don’t see quibbling about it helping. Unless you are trying to make a point, which I think often you yourself are. =)

    Interesting post, thanks!

  13. Carl Youngblood
    June 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    I have only one question: how does your wife feel about it? Is she becoming increasingly worried that she married a nut-job or is she in lock-step with your opinions? I joke but I actually sincerely would like to know if your wife’s politics are similar to yours and what that means for your family dynamics.

  14. Wife
    June 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Ha! I’m interested to see Connor’s response, Carl.

    I’ll probably quip in a little later when I have some time.

  15. Seth
    June 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Thank you Connor. I have been thinking the same thing for some time now. It bothers me to pledge allegiance to an object, regardless of what is “stand for.”
    I also invoke an altered pledge, somewhat similar to yours, when invited to participate in a flag ceremony (I change it from time to time, as I study and learn):
    “I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, to the God who inspired it’s creation, and to the true principles enshrined in it, upholding, protecting, and defending liberty and justice for all.”

  16. Jake Spurlock
    June 9, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Where appropriate, I simply abstain from making any such pledge (or wearing any lapel pins or buttons or any other outward, superficial demonstration of one’s patriotism), preferring to let my words and actions speak for themselves in showing to whom and to what my allegiance is given.

    Serious? You wear politics on your sleeve, don’t have to look any further then your Facebook profile photo to see a superficial demonstration of your patriotism.

  17. Connor
    June 9, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Easy, Jake, retract your claws.

    What I was referring to is people who use pins and bumper stickers and other things (sure, even Facebook profile photos) yet don’t have the action and principle to go along with it.

    In other words, I wasn’t saying that all “visible” promotions of political things should be avoided. My profile photo (an image of Mike Lee with his logo and URL) is backed up by plenty of writings, blog posts, discussion, and a consistent promotion of political principle.

    That’s in contrast to, say, somebody who has a bumper sticker about how important the second amendment is, yet does not do anything about it. Or, somebody who uses such a vague accessory as a flag lapel pin to attempt to convey their patriotism, while when working behind closed doors they try to promote all sorts of actions that run afoul of the principles the flag represents to most. (Yes, I’ve got plenty of stories.)

    I wish that more people would wear politics on their sleeve—perhaps then we could have more substantive discussion rather than embracing sound bytes, trite slogans, and an apathy towards citizen activism unless it’s time to go vote.

  18. Stephen
    June 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    I feel the same way about the pledge. Being a scout leader in the church can make it interesting though. So when it comes to teaching this and participating in the court of honors, I am pretty much listless and just go along to get along.

  19. Tim Harper
    June 11, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    This is something that I’ve never called into question before. I’ve felt a spirit of patriotism and gratitude, in the past, each time I’ve recited it. But, I paid more attention to the spirit of “one nation, under God”, than “indivisible, and pledging allegiance to a symbol”.

    Thank you very much, I’m glad I read this. Keep up the good work.

  20. Carl Youngblood
    June 11, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    So Connor, are you going to answer me?

    Tim, I think that there are a lot of traditions that can be picked apart but still serve a beneficial purpose to many people, so I think your experience is similar to that of many others. I personally think this history lesson is interesting but doesn’t necessarily make me want to stop participating in this shared tradition, just like many of our religious practices are also fabricated or extremely embellished beyond their humble origins. If you pull this thread too far you’ll unravel the whole tapestry.

  21. Connor
    June 12, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Carl,

    …I actually sincerely would like to know if your wife’s politics are similar to yours and what that means for your family dynamics.

    My wife and I agree on many, many things (across all topics, including politics). We disagree on some things.

    In short, we are, like all other married couples, two different people with many similarities and some differences.

    Shocking, I know. :)

  22. Carl Youngblood
    June 12, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    So it sounds like your wife’s level of political activism is similar to yours and therefore this isn’t generally a source of tension in the relationship. I ask because I see you becoming increasingly politically active as time goes on and I’ve been curious to know if it ever causes tension among your family and friends and how you deal with it if it does.

  23. Wife
    June 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Connor,

    Not nearly the amount of detail I was hoping for. ;)

    Carl,

    Okay, my turn. I would hardly say that the level of political activism is similar between myself and Connor. We have a lot of similar political ideals, but Connor is by far the more active of us.

    We agree on most things. Actually, almost all things when you really get down to the basic argument. Disagreements can arise when I don’t take a belief or conviction quite to the same level of intensity as Connor does, though.

    An additional difficulty is trying to balance Connor’s “activism” with our family life. How much time gets dedicated to that, versus to us? Sometimes I think that area needs a little work and more balance, but that could just be because I selfishly don’t want to share him as much. :)

    Additionally, I don’t like it when he gets negative publicity or slandered because of a recent blog post or something. I’m not nearly as public with my opinions, and sometimes I wish he wasn’t either, just because I don’t like people being jerks to the man I love and care about. No one would like that. But, I try to understand that this is one of his passions, and he’s willing to take some heat for his efforts of trying to inform other people of what he believes to be right.

    Yes, Connor appears to be becoming more politically active. But, I honestly would prefer he never run for political office. I think that whole realm is sleazy, dishonest, rude, and despicable, and I don’t want that spirit in his life or in our home anymore than it needs to be.

    So, to sum up, we see eye to eye on almost everything. But, despite agreeing on principles, a little tension may arise because of small disagreements about the actions we take regarding those principles.

  24. Matt L.
    June 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Connor,

    This comment may require a more private response if you are not comfortable discussing your religious thoughts and feelings as openly as you do your political ones.

    I think your wife has clued into the fact that I am a rather “unique” Mormon in many regards… in belief and practice. I have dedicated a lot of time, energy, and frankly, anguish, in an attempt to better understand my religion, its history, its doctrine, and the history of its doctrine. That effort has left me, changed. It all started for me with a lot of questions and skepticism. You too seem to have a rather questioning and skeptical nature as well.

    Though I may not always agree with you, I am impressed by your knowledge base and your ability to communicate your thoughts. It is also very clear in your writing that you have “done your homework.” So, to get to the point, and my question to you: Have you applied the same level of curiosity and scrutiny in your studies of your religion as you have to your studies of the your country? I wonder if you utilize the same critical perspective as you view current and historic church policy, doctrine, and culture.

    I ask these questions because I am quite frankly baffled if you have “done your homework” in regards to “church stuff” but yet retain and maintain what seems to be a pretty orthodox faith in belief and practice. I have not been as fortunate. How have you done it?

    Have you explored the writings of Quinn or Palmer, (two of the more prominent scholarly and objective researchers) to name just a couple? Yes, they are sometimes labeled, “anti-mormon”, but I assure you that these fellows are no more anti-mormon than you are anti-american. Every argument and perspective deserves a listen (or read).

    Essentially, I just want you to respond to one simple question: If you’ve “done your homework” (ie: reading outside of church-published documents) how have you maintained what seems to be such an orthodox faith?

  25. Carl Youngblood
    June 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    I was thinking something similar to Matt, although I am not as baffled as he is that someone could remain faithful after studying his religion’s history as closely as Connor has studied his country’s, because my experience has been along these lines. But I’m guessing that Connor has not applied the same level of scrutiny, although that is only a hunch based on his prior citations of LDS leaders.

  26. Connor
    June 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Matt,

    Sure, I have applied the same level of scrutiny. I ask questions—hard and uncomfortable ones at times. Some questions have good answers, others do not.

    For me, it boils down to this: the gospel is true and has been restored, but the members have not lived up to their potential, we have failed in many regards to build Zion, we have become steeped in the traditions, culture, and Babylonian qualities of the world, and we have demanded only “milk” of our leaders.

    I, unlike many others who question things with a critical eye, do not fault our leaders, or God. I fault my peers (and myself) for refusing to adhere to the basic tenets of the gospel, for being content with “milk”, and for being disinterested with the deeper things of gospel study, and for not doing their/our part to receive personal inspiration.

    For anything in more detail, and since the subject is completely different than this thread, feel free to contact me privately. I don’t tolerate “anti” or even borderline type of stuff on my blog so I’ll ask that questions/comments not veer in that direction. Thanks.

  27. Jim
    June 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Connor,
    Thank you for providing some connection between socialism and christianity. Most of the time people say there is no connection at all, but at least one person advanced both at the same time.

    Darrel,
    I avoided saying the pledge when I was in high school, I think for opposite reasons ‘under god’ was something I didn’t want to associate with the government. I was active LDS at the time, and actually got a lot of criticism for it. But there was some other additional element that I couldn’t pin down, and still can’t that I find offensive. i think its because its one of those things thats just mindlessly repeated without thought. I also think that ‘in god we trust’ should be removed from bills and coins. The earlier mottos I think were more true to philosophical freedom, which could include atheists.

  28. JL
    June 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Interesting background, yes, but it will not change my patriotic observance of the pledge whenever given the opportunity. I love what the flag symbolizes to ME. It is not the flag per se (much like the emblems of the sacrament you referenced); rather, it is the grand principles (and sacrifice) this country was founded upon that I recall when gazing upon, and pledging to, the flag.

    If the pledge required a re-write, I would enter this as my preference:

    I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the Republic created by it, one nation, under God, inviolate, with liberty and justice for all.

  29. Jonathan Rogers
    June 15, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    I’m not sure I could say the pledge of allegience anymore with a clear conscience because those grand principles and sacrifice this country was founded on haven’t existed for the last 150 years since they were effectively destroyed by Abraham Lincoln in 1860 when the tyrant-in-chief decided that he would destroy the principles upon which the country was founded (and render meaningless the sacrifices and risks taken by our founding fathers to give us independence) in order to “save” the country. If the federal government went back within its Constitutional limits imposed by the 10th Amendment and ceased doing all those things which it is not specifically authorized by the Constitution to do then perhaps I might be able to say those words with a clear conscience but as it stands..to say the words would be to pledge alliegence to a national government that I do not feel has anything but it’s own self-interested lust for power and absolute control over it’s citizens in mind rather than the best interests of ‘We, the People..’.

  30. Carl Youngblood
    June 15, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    To Connor’s wife, thanks for sharing more insights and information than Connor did! I definitely agree that he didn’t put nearly enough detail in. Seems like a common comment that women make about men’s accounts of what happened :-)

    You helped me to get a better idea of the family dynamics. How about the extended family? Are there people on either side of the extended family who are annoyed by his fairly extreme positions? Have there been any heated discussions at family barbecues or disagreements over political candidates?

    While I disagree with some of Connor’s positions, I commend you for supporting your husband. Many spouses would be more inclined to keep the peace than to loyally support their spouse in the face of public disagreement.

  31. Jonathan
    June 18, 2010 at 12:54 am #

    Great post! First off, I have to say that reading your writing is a joy. You express yourself very well.

    My wife has the kids recite the pledge at the breakfast table. During that time in our home and during other opportunities to participate in the pledge (like at Boy Scout events) I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of reciting it.

    I was hanging up mostly on the act of pledging my allegiance to a piece of cloth, but the gut feeling was also there telling me that more was amiss than just focusing on an object.

    So thanks for pointing out what I was on the brink of studying out for myself.

    @Carl – why do you seem so insistent on identifying possible strains on relationships that Connor may experience? Your tone seems to be that you find him annoying and want “support” or evidence that others do as well.

    I am quite possibly off the mark here, and if so I apologize. I don’t mean any disrespect to you, but maybe if you offered more detail as to why you are interested in relationships strained by Connor sharing his beliefs or political activities, it would help others see where you’re coming from (rather than operate under assumptions – as I guess I am.)

    For example, maybe you have annoyed relatives and are looking for insight to deal with that in your own life? I know I have been there. Anyway, I hope that didn’t come across too rude. I’m tired and should have probably waited until tomorrow to post a response.

  32. Carl Youngblood
    June 18, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    Jonathan, it may have seemed like I was focusing on this partly just because Connor’s initial response wasn’t very specific so I responded more times. This just happened to be the curiosity of the moment for me, not really an obsession. But of course, I too have experienced family dynamics and differences in comfort level between various relatives. If my political views were as extreme as Connor’s I would probably have a lot more family challenges.

    Although I call myself a “moderate libertarian,” I find Connor’s flavor of libertarianism too extreme, and I feel that it ignores important facts about history, human nature and the enormous costs required to adopt some positions he advocates. That said, I’m still interested in what he has to say.

  33. Jonathan
    June 18, 2010 at 1:43 am #

    Carl – thanks for clarifying. I hope I didn’t sound too nasty.

    I don’t know if this is the place to discuss this, but I was intrigued by your statement that Connor’s ideas would require enormous costs. I wonder what ideas specifically would incur such expenses, and could they possibly be more expensive than our current welfare (both corporate and social), foreign policy, and inflationary monetary policies?

  34. Carl Youngblood
    June 18, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Jonathan, it’s difficult to convey my thoughts briefly, but I think an analogy could help. To me, most of the initiatives being championed by the libertarians, constitutionalists and tea-party members (a term that is unfortunately increasingly being hijacked by the neocons) sound like the advice of novice software developers suggesting that the best way to fix a crufty old jury-rigged 10,000,000 lines-of-code air traffic control system is to rewrite it from scratch. Sure, it sounds like the best way to fix the problems, but it completely ignores the fact that the system can’t be taken down for months while the new system is being rolled out, nor does it factor in the enormous cost of downtime.

    Perhaps this analogy doesn’t work for you, but as a software engineer, I have frequently experienced and read about famous software projects that have failed due to naivety on the part of developers who ignored critical aspects of the legacy systems they were trying to replace.

    There is no question that the system has major problems, but people aren’t fully calculating the side effects of suggested remedies. Even worse, they are pointing out problems without providing any practical game plan for resolving them. It is very easy to attack windmills (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/05/don-quijote-didnt-ship.html) but much harder to develop a solution that can actually be made to happen.

    Many of the more extreme political stances, be they totalitarian or libertarian, communist or fascist, tend to ignore important details in favor of one unifying ideology that is seen as the default answer to all problems. The further to the edge of the political spectrum you are, the more you opt for an ideological approach and the less willing you are to engage in compromise. By definition, these types are rarely voted into office and if they are voted in, they usually don’t last long, but they still play an important role in influencing the folks in the center.

    Closer to the center of the political spectrum, the waters are muddied by different kinds of political animals. There are politicians who do whatever is necessary to maintain their office, making deals that are more opportunistic than principle-based. But there are also people in the center who recognize that ideologies are simply abstractions and patterns that have been developed to try to predict behavior and outcomes, and that as such, they are prone to break down in new circumstances and situations.

    I call myself a moderate libertarian because I usually prefer solutions that favor local and individual decision-making and responsibility over centralized monitoring and control. But the most important thing for me is that all decisions be data-driven. Ideological solutions are wasteful and frequently neglect important inefficiencies or potential for abuse. Data-driven solutions focus on the problems and desired outcomes instead of blindly following ideologies. This for me is what true pragmatism is. It does not simply adopt whatever stance will win the most votes (although public support is certainly an important factor) or allow it to maintain power. It welcomes all political theories but favors those that can demonstrate their effectiveness by real data and experience.

    So, in short, I am generally critical of Connor’s strongly constitutional approach because I think it does not provide a practical transition strategy and I think it neglects a great deal of social upheaval that would result from radically changing our current laws.

    That said, I would love to hear more practical step-by-step plans that could be enacted to reduce the size of the federal government and get us headed more in that direction. And in truth, I have little to say in the form of specific criticism because most of Connor’s posts seem to focus on problems, not necessarily solutions. Although they are suggestive of radical solutions, these solutions are rarely spelled out in detail, so it’s difficult to level specific criticisms at them.

  35. Aaron
    June 23, 2010 at 3:30 am #

    As I was reading the explanation of your position, I began thinking of how I, myself, would modify the pledge in situations where its recitation is expected. I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I got to the part where you wrote your own version, it was the exact same one I thought of. I guess great liberty loving minds think alike.

  36. Ashlee Mecham
    June 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    My husband (Jonathan) raves about your posts and recently told me of this one. I had a hard time with what he said so I decided to read it myself and try to understand where he was coming from. It gave me a lot to think about. I think I like the part about casting the history aside and focusing on the words and their meanings. Also helping my kids understand the principles our country was founded on and the original documents. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Angela
    November 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Not everyone should have to do it and I refuse to children shouldn’t be required to recite it at school nor is it “One Nation Under God”

  38. Jeff Waufle
    April 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    While your premise has the best of intentions the results are destructive.

    This fragile Republic needs traditions to bond all citizens to one Nation. While word-smithing the pledge to “improve” its meaning may be technically and philosophically correct, the destruction of National continuity between generations of American’s would be irreparable. This would be just another point of contention to divide our society and question the foundations and principles that guide our Nation.

    I view your efforts, I this case, as “progressive” and would highly recommend they be read and analyzed, but not followed.

  39. The Truth
    April 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    DID YOU ALL FORGET THAT THE CREATION OF THE US WAS DIRECTLY BECAUSE OF GOD? WHY DID THE PILGRIMS EMIGRATE FROM ENGLAND TO HERE?!?

    Stupid Liberals

  40. Cathey Gautam
    October 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your article, many thanks.

  41. David Motola
    December 11, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    I remember sitting in middle school and watching one of my fellow classmates refuse to recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Due in large part to my ignorance I remember thinking that she was being silly by not doing so. I also remember her receiving criticism from some of my fellow classmates. I wish I could go back in time and give her a high five.

    Great article Connor, thanks.

  42. Wlater Kennedy
    July 3, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    As is pointed out in ‘Lincoln’s Marxist,’ Fredrick Engels, Karl Marx’s co-author and close friend, stated that the best way to promote communism was to make strong and “indivisible” republics out of the many small “states.” The destruction of Real State’s Rights was just such an attempt to end the power of the people at the State level and promote big “indivisible” government in America.

  43. salt h2o
    July 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Texas schools pledge allegiance to Texas first, country second…makes sense to me. Then again, I’ve started referring to the civil war as the war of northern aggression.

  44. TG
    July 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    So do you tell your children to still place their hand on their heart and just recite your modified version then, explaining to them why and what it means?

  45. Jim
    July 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I have a hard time agreeing with anyone who seems to slant all the facts in the direction of their opinion.— and since when were socialists inherently evil?

  46. Bryson
    July 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Once again, spot on, Connor. When do you plan to run for office, and how can I contribute to your campaign?

  47. John
    January 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Much of this is true, however this article seems to confuse socialism with communism. Having spent considerable time in Japan (a socialist nation), as well as other colleagues’ experiences in socialist countries, I believe this is in (probably unwitting) error. Rich and poor exist, private businesses thrive, and people are free in Japan–they simply don’t let each other starve to death.

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