It’s a set of simple but powerful words in the English language that most every school-child of speaking age in the United States knows by heart:
I pledge allegiance to the flag 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.
Our Pledge of Allegiance has an interesting history and has stirred many a patriotic and religiously faithful heart to strong emotions, and sometimes conflict.
I used to be among those reticent to repeat the Pledge, after years of unthinkingly doing so — having been a teen of the querulous Sixties and having forgotten Red Skelton’s exposition of it — on the grounds that it might, in some way, supercede the overarching supremacy of the Kingdom of God, who is sovereign forever and ever.
But I re-examine it these days, and find no such language. It is a pledge of loyalty to the nation into which I was born, which protected and nourished and educated me … which preserved my rights and freedoms and insisted on my responsibilities as a maturing individual … which required my taxes to do so but in doing so returned much more to me as an individual of average income than I could possibly have paid back … which accepted the sacrifices, willing and unwilling, penultimate and ultimate, of many a brave soul on its soil and beyond to assure the rights and freedoms that should be for all people of all nations — blessings which can only be described as priceless.
The pledge does not require that my loyalty to the United States of America supercede my loyalty of the Kingdom of God. To not pledge some allegiance of some measure to such a nation of nurture, of soaring hopes and high ideals, of openness to diversity and dreams, of empowerment to the enterprising — whatever their resources might or might not be — would be the mark of ingratitude.
Whatever shortcomings this nation has (and there are many, for it is comprised of many imperfect citizens), the United States of America remains an ideal to be accomplished … a declaration of independence from tyranny … a constitution for a more perfect union … a quality of equality worth aiming for and worth hitting dead-center with every single attempt.
So I have dropped my qualms about the Pledge of Allegiance. It does, after all, describe a human republic with hopes for many of the same attributes that are realities of the divine Kingdom:
… one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.