Should Christians Pledge Allegiance to the United States’ Flag?

R. C. Sproul, Jr.

Because I wish to answer some likely objections before answering this question, you will likely guess my answer. When the Bible calls us to “pray for the peace of Babylon” (Jer. 29:7) I believe that means we are called to pray for the peace of our nation. When the Bible calls us to pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2: 1-4) I believe we are called to pray for our leaders. When the Bible calls us to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7) I believe we are called to give honor to whom honor is due in our nation. I would add in turn that I believe the providence of God has blessed this nation like no other nation in history. I love what our founding fathers stood for. I love my country, and aspire to be faithful to it. But I do not believe Christians should pledge allegiance to the flag of these United States.

My first concern, as it ought to be with any oath or vow, is with the truth in the oath or vow. I am quite concerned that what the pledge affirms is just not true. First, while I am grateful that our founders designed this country to be ruled by the Constitution, to be ruled by law, this country is not now a Republic. That rule which is supposed to be the law of the land, the Constitution, is routinely and perpetually ignored by both major parties. In like manner the pledge claims we are a nation under God when I fear we are a nation in deepest rebellion against God. We are under Him in reality, but we think ourselves above Him.

Indivisible may be the most troubling word in the whole of the pledge. I have no desire to see the nation divided. We are not expressing here, however, a wish that it will not be divided but a conviction that it cannot be divided. This is, in essence, a claim that the union is immortal, a claim to deity. This nation is most assuredly not indivisible.

The last phrase, I would argue, is also not true. There we claim that ours is a nation where there is liberty and justice for all. Is that true? Are we free to work in the field of our choice, without a license from the state? Are we at liberty to build a shed in our back yard, without getting a permit from the state? Are we free to not purchase health insurance for our employees? Are we free to keep the fruits of our labor?

My second concern, however, ties together the last and the first phrases. Does the flag stand for, represent those founding virtues, or does it now represent a nation where every year over a million of our tiniest citizens are not just denied liberty and justice, but life itself? Does not that flag represent both a state which is pledged to protect the “right” to murder the unborn, and does it not represent the citizens of that nation who avail themselves of that right over 3000 times each day?

I love my country. But I cannot pretend that my country is something that it no longer is. I love my country, but I fear the judgment of God. I love my country, but I weep for it. I love my country, and what it once was. But I am ashamed of what it has become. The truth of the matter, however, is that were we what we once were, were we what I hope and labor that we will be again, I still could not in good conscience pledge my allegiance. Because I look for that city whose builder and maker is God. I love my country, but because I, by His grace, have been made a part of that royal priesthood, my commitment is to that holy nation (I Peter 2:9). I love my country, but my allegiance, my loyalty is to Jesus Christ.

Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary and Grove City College. He received his Doctorate of Ministry in 2001 and is Founder, Chairman and Teacher of Highlands Ministries.