The Christian Right and the Pledge of Allegiance-Is There a Contradiction-

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The Christian Right and the Pledge of Allegiance-Is There a Contradiction- Powered By Docstoc
					Imagine a grade school student from China who goes to a public school and is asked
to swear an oath to the Chinese state every day along with the rest of his or her class
at school. Imagine that the young boy or girl refuses to participate due to the fact that
he or she is a Christian and does not want to declare allegiance to anyone or anything
other than Jesus Christ. I wonder how the average American Christian raised in a
conservative evangelical church would view this scenario? I imagine that millions of
Christians in America would not only admire the grade school student, but would
probably use him or her as an example in Sunday School on how to take a stand as a
Christian against a godless secular culture.

Now let's imagine another scenario. Imagine a young boy or girl in America attending
one of the thousands of Christian schools throughout the nation. Imagine that a young
boy or girl decides one day to politely decline in saying the pledge of allegiance along
with his or her classmates. I wonder how the average American evangelical Christian
would view this scenario? Given the political firestorm over taking "under God" out
of the pledge, I imagine that the reaction of the same millions of Christians who
thought the Chinese boy or girl was a hero would be decisively different than over the
Christian child refusing to participate in the American pledge of allegiance. I further
imagine that many would even question if the student was a Christian at all. After all,
so the thinking goes, America is a Christian nation.

Does anyone else see a problem with this? To many American Christians, a child who
pledges allegiance to China is considered idolatrous, but a child who pledges
allegiance to America is considered a patriot. Speaking as an American evangelical
myself, I have to ask what does this say about how we as American Christians view
ourselves? For many Christians, the idea that America is not a Christian nation is
tantamount to blasphemy. I find it odd that the same people who would applaud a
Chinese or a Russian for refusing to swear an oath to a secular state see no problem
with wrapping an American flag around a cross in the front yards of their churches.

For the record, I'm not saying necessarily that it's a damnable sin to say the Pledge of
Allegiance, although I do think the issue should be looked at more carefully. Although
it's true that the Bible says, "Give custom to whom custom is due," it's also true that
the New Testament repeatedly prohibits taking oaths. Given what the New Testament
actually says about taking oaths, (namely, that a Christian isn't supposed to be making
them) isn't it a bit odd that one of the key issues of the Christian right involves
keeping the words "under God" in an oath to a nation/state?

Why does this contradiction exist? I think it's because the average American Christian
from a conservative evangelical background associates patriotism with following
Jesus. To confirm this truth, we need look no further than "Christian" talk radio. I
actually heard a "Christian" talk show host one time tell a U.S. Marine "Remember,
when you serve in the U.S. Military, you're serving Jesus." As odd at this statement
might sound, turning Jesus into an officer of the U.S. Marines, for many of my friends
and colleagues, the statement "soldiers in Iraq are doing the will of God" seems to
flow off their lips without a second thought.

Should a Christian associate America's cause with God's cause? I don't think so. The
truth is that America is a mixture of good and bad, just like many other nations. We
can't claim a special relationship with God more than any other nation can. Although
our pilgrim forefathers believed they were making a covenant with God when they
entered this land, we have no reason to believe that God entered a covenant with them.
Biblically speaking, any alliance between the Kingdom of God, which always looks
like Jesus taking on the form of a suffering servant, with a version of the Kingdom of
this world, (however new and improved the version of the worldly kingdom is) is an
unholy alliance-and for good reason. Ask a typical native American Christian whether
he or she believes that God gave the continental U.S. to white Europeans for the
purpose of advancing the cause of freedom and liberty and you might get a totally
different answer than you would hear from one of Ohio's Patriot Pastors.

As a missionary who has traveled the world many times over, I've met many
Christians from other countries who have asked me why so many American Christians
associate patriotism with Christianity. Not being one who likes to mix words, I tell
them the truth. Americans read the Bible with cultural blinders on.....just like
everyone else.

As for those who would venerate a Chinese student for refusing to pledge an oath to
China but marginalize a Christian kid for refusing to pledge an oath to America, I'm
not sure if they'll like what I have to say, but for a Bible believing Christian, the
response to this anomaly should be obvious. Our first and foremost loyalty should be
to Jesus Christ. Although we need to honor and serve our country as good citizens, to
equate love for Jesus with love for country is nothing short of idolatry.