Corey: Why Christians Should Not Say Pledge of Allegiance

Benjamin Corey, a former fundamentalist who is now a liberal Christian, argues that the release of the torture report is the final nail in the coffin and that Christians should now refuse to recite the pledge of allegiance because the government has taken actions are “pure, absolute evil.”

Still, even with the biblical arguments that I feel are straight forward (“I pledge allegiance to the flag” vs “…but I tell you, do not take a pledge”), some Christians are hesitant to let go of this tradition that as children we were indoctrinated to engage in– and I understand that. When you’ve had nationalism and tradition drilled into your head for years on end it can be hard to step back and realize that maybe we’ve been wrong– that’s how indoctrination works and why it’s so hard to break free from it. We grow up being taught that America is the greatest nation that has ever existed, that we are exceptional compared to others, that we are a “Christian” nation, and that whatever we do is good, right, and justified. And so, pledging to give our allegiance to such an entity is an easy sell, as the narrative we are given doesn’t seem on the surface to conflict with some basic understandings of following Jesus.

However, the release of the now infamous CIA Torture Report should be the final blow that closes the case on Christians reciting the pledge of allegiance. From reading the report, it should now be crystal clear to anyone who has read the teachings of Jesus as found in scripture that one cannot swear their allegiance to America while simultaneously giving our allegiance to the alternate way of Jesus. Absolutely, positively, impossible.

The contents of the report reveal what the US has done, and what has been done is anti-Christ– pure, absolute evil.

How a Jesus person could continue to swear allegiance to an entity that engages in behaviors that are so unarguably anti-Christ, sins against God, and crimes against humanity, is beyond me.

There are a couple of obvious responses to this. First, why was this report necessary? There’s little in it that is new. We already knew long ago that the government tortured detainees, sometimes to death. And even before the last 13 years, we had a long history of slaughtering people by the millions and rampant human rights abuses. Second, if one is to believe in the idea of hell — to be fair, Corey almost certainly does not — then eternal torture is exactly what Jesus has in mind for those who reject him.

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  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    …the release of the torture report is the final nail in the coffin…

    Seriously? After all the years governments at all levels have been supporting the “pure, absolute evil” of his former religion, it still took the torture report to clinch it for him? This guy is a bit late to the party…

  • lldayo

    @Raging Bee

    At least he made it. Some people can’t even read the invitation!

  • Akira MacKenzie

    First, why was this report necessary?

    Because it allowed Corey a great PR opportunity for his brand of delusion?

  • Kevin Kehres

    The pledge was written by a Christian preacher and socialist, so the thought of it being unChristian is a nice “No True Scotsman” example.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    Kevin:

    Did the preacher who wrote the pledge intend for it to be considered a Christian pledge? Considering “under God” was not included until 1954, that does not seem to be the case.

    As such, no, this is not “No True Scotsman”.

  • Sastra

    When I say the Pledge of Allegiance I say it to the ideals it expresses, not to the country. For me it’s more about philosophy than patriotism — that is, the jingoistic militaristic my-country-is-perfect version of patriotism some people apparently espouse — or espoused. Given what Corey was using the pledge to say, his reasoning makes sense (belated or not.)

    Though there is of course a huge contradiction with balking at earthly torture but being just fine with the concept of eternal spiritual torture (and if he rejects Hell as you say then what does he think Christ is saving us from?)

  • grumpyoldfart

    It doesn’t matter if Americans stop reciting the pledge. Republicans will still vote for Republicans (and Democrats for Democrats) until the day they die. Nothing will change. Politicians will continue taking bribes from lobbyists and the ordinary citizens can go jump in the lake.

  • eric

    When you’ve had nationalism and tradition drilled into your head for years on end it can be hard to step back and realize that maybe we’ve been wrong

    Religious pot, meet nationalist kettle.

  • kenn

    Twas up to me, I’d abolish the damned pledge altogether. Failing that, I’d rewrite it: “I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the republic over which it governs, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It’d piss off the flag fetishists, but fuck ’em.

  • Michael Heath

    Benjamin Corey:

    How a Jesus person could continue to swear allegiance to an entity that engages in behaviors that are so unarguably anti-Christ, sins against God, and crimes against humanity, is beyond me.

    Flat-earth level denialism going on there. The evil the U.S. government has done can not be even remotely compared to what the Bible claims Jesus will do to those who fail to submit to his authoritah; that’s unimaginable suffering for all of eternity.

    No, what the CIA has done is in perfect sync with how conservative Christians practice their beliefs and how they vote. They celebrate a god who can and they think threatens to do far worse the CIA could ever imagine doing. What the CIA has done is instead Christianity as it’s practiced by emulating the Christian god while supported by conservative Christians.

    I think this type of Christian practice is a major reason why the U.S. population continues to support our torturing people. That while claiming it’s evil coming from others. Hell-believing Christians learn to promote evil from the Bible; it’s also how they practice their faith. I.e., it’s Ok when our god or we commit atrocities in “His Name”, but evil when ‘the other’ does it. That’s because they have no standard for morality except the belief that God demands we blindly, slavishly, and childishly submit; regardless of the evil of that god’s evil demands and supposedly practices ‘Himself’.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    “First, why was this report necessary?”

    There is a difference between acknowledging a festering boil, and lancing it. Had it not been published, the government could have ignored the matter under cover of “plausible deniability” and all the lies that the people responsible have been throwing around for years. Now they cannot hide. Now the nation must face the truth, and, hopefully, the people responsible will be held accountable.

  • Synfandel

    When you’ve had nationalism religion and tradition drilled into your head for years on end it can be hard to step back and realize that maybe we’ve been wrong– that’s how indoctrination works and why it’s so hard to break free from it.

    He just broke my irony meter.

  • samgardner

    I agree with Sastra@6: the pledge has to be aspirational, not descriptive. We don’t stop saying it because not everyone gets justice, we say it to remind ourselves we should be committed to justice for all. And on the whole, I think it’s better to believe that we want our nation committed to moral ideals.

    The change I would make is, instead of teaching the pledge indiscriminately to every small child that comes into the school system, making it more like a rite of passage. Only have them say the pledge after a certain age, and after they’ve actually learned something about both the good and the bad of the nation.

    Also, I prefer pledging to the flag than to the Constitution: while I believe the Constitution is not the worst governmental document, there are changes I could imagine serving it quite well (particularly 2nd amendment).

  • Kermit Sansoo

    Sastra asks: Though there is of course a huge contradiction with balking at earthly torture but being just fine with the concept of eternal spiritual torture (and if he rejects Hell as you say then what does he think Christ is saving us from?)

    .

    Luke 17:20,21 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

    .

    If he existed, and if these words are properly attributed to him, he comes across very much like a Zen master trying to enlighten people immersed in an iron age culture of vengeful gods and strict but arbitrary rules. He is very clearly discussing a mental transformation, not a literal magic place for torture or punishments by a magical king. This is the King James version; some translations say “for the Kingdom is among you” because, I think, they don’t like the correct translation’s implications. The Greek word is enteuthen, which does mean “within” as in “within a vessel”.

    .

    Also, to understand him properly, it helps to completely dismiss that power-mad usurper, Paul of Tarsus, who never actually met the rabbi.

    .

    Shrug. He was special, perhaps, but not magic, nor unique. One teacher among many over the centuries, most of whom left few impressions on people. He was trying to save people from misery, without having the power to change their circumstances. Naturally, the story grew in the telling, and his teaching was recorded by people who didn’t understand him very well.

    .

    Maybe.

  • dingojack

    Blessed are the cheese-makers…

    Dingo

  • bryanfeir

    Also, I prefer pledging to the flag than to the Constitution: while I believe the Constitution is not the worst governmental document, there are changes I could imagine serving it quite well (particularly 2nd amendment).

    Of course, given the snit-fit that the right threw when Justice Ginsberg suggested to Egypt that using more recent constitutions than the U.S. one might be in their interests (and pointed to Canada and South Africa as examples)…

    Using the Constitution wouldn’t help anyway. The hard right self-described patriots are quite capable of fetishizing any symbol while ignoring what it actually stands for.

  • Michael Heath

    Kermit Sansoo @ 14:

    If [Jesus] existed, and if these words are properly attributed to him, he comes across very much like a Zen master trying to enlighten people immersed in an iron age culture of vengeful gods and strict but arbitrary rules. He is very clearly discussing a mental transformation, not a literal magic place for torture or punishments by a magical king.

    Matthew 25 (RSV):

    30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”