The Pledge of Allegiance and the 11th Article of Faith
One of the perks of living in the “land of the free” is that I get to write whatever I want in this blog, without fear of penalty. Another perk is that I get to worship however I choose (or not) without fear of retribution. This means that I can join any religion, and practice any religion, or not, depending on my own personal convictions. With or without religion, there are many people out there who have made a place for God in their lives. There are also many who have chosen not to make a place for God in their lives. Having true freedom means that whatever choice is made, there will be no penalties. No retribution.
And my own religion supports these freedoms. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was still quite young, Joseph Smith composed a letter to the editor of the Chicago Democrat explaining the basic tenets of our faith. Smith meant for this letter to be published. He wanted others who didn’t understand the LDS church to know what we believe and why we believe it. Today, we consider the 13 basic tenets of faith listed by Joseph Smith in that letter, to be a summary of our beliefs.
Many members can recite these articles of faith verbatim. But reciting and knowing are two different things. Lets take a look at the this particular article:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Some of those same people who can recite this article are the same people who argue that children across the nation should be made to recite the pledge of allegiance in school on a daily basis. Some of those same people are those who expect all immigrants wishing to become citizens to recite this pledge as a show of patriotism to their new country. But those same people don’t understand what the pledge of allegiance is all about. Take a look:
Its history is simple and well-meaning, but changes made to the original usurp the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It has become a war cry for intolerance for those who wish to entangle personal beliefs with an icon turned idol. It was not written as part of our Constitution, and it was not meant to support intolerant Christian-only politics–but that’s what it does.
In fact, until World War II, this is what it looked like to recite the pledge:
Connecticut school children reciting the pledge in 1942. Look familiar?
Things changed. Things do change. We added the pledge of allegiance to our repertoire of “freedom” more than 100 years after the constitution was signed. And more than 100 years after Joseph Smith wrote his letter to the editor, explaining that we believe all people should be allowed “to worship how, where, or what they may,” the words “under God” were added as an exclusionary measure to the threat of Communism. Unfortunately, the pledge comes across to me as flag worship and uber-patriotism. Not only that, it excludes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and truth-seeking agnostics (among others). Way to spread the Gospel of love, peeps.
It’s time for even more drastic change. We are the only country in the world to hold their citizens to a pledge of allegiance. It’s time to stop forcing patriotism, and God, upon our citizens. As a world-wide church, and as a world super-power, we need to understand that others are brought to truth through love and patience. It’s time, as George Bush said, for “a kinder, gentler, nation.” It’s time for understanding of the truths we teach; it’s time to practice what we preach.
It’s time remove the pledge as a mandatory requirement for school participation, and as a requirement for citizenship. It’s time to remove God from the pledge (this is not God’s pledge). As with all other freedoms, participation in the pledge should be voluntary.