Wednesday, November 17, 2010

UnderGod

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently ruled that New Hampshire schoolchildren will still be allowed to say the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Whew! Now I can sleep at night!

The court decision resolves a challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of two atheist and agnostic parents, whose three children were attending New Hampshire's public schools.

The judges ruled that the pledge was constitutional because it is clearly a patriotic act and not a religious act, in spite of the words “under God” in the text.

I am a supporter of both the Pledge and the inclusion of the words that refer to the God of the nations. I am both patriotic and religious. But I don’t think the Pledge of Allegiance really does much to instill faith in God.

If anything, it seems to serve as an inoculation against real faith. The words proclaim that the nation is under God, but the message communicated is that God is a footnote to the flag. The God of civil religion is an “underGod” type of Deity. I wish that God stirred as much passion and sacrifice in the pledgers as does the nation under Him.

Last week I attended the Veteran’s Day parade in our county seat. I was impressed by the hoards of soldiers – old and new – as well as the hundreds of people who lined the streets to pay them respect. The bulging ranks of the Junior ROTC really surprised me.

The ranks of soldier wannabes swarmed with young recruits. I wondered if they really knew what they are getting into, with two wars going on and terrorism waxing around the world.

I guess I have seen too much of the cost of war – things like the traumatic effects of PTSD and crippling combat injuries. But still - the fact that these kids are willing to risk life and limb for their nation stirs me. I wish that the church inspired such sacrifice and courage. 

Is the Christian cause any less important? Of course not! In fact it is far more important! I would say it is infinitely more important. If forced to choose between God and country I would choose God without a blink of the eye. Nations rise and fall; God is eternal.

Then why are teens lining up at the recruiting office yet walking away from the church? What does that say about the way the gospel is being presented – or (God forbid) the message of the gospel itself?  What does it say about the priorities of our nation?

I am glad that children can still publicly profess that America is “one nation under God” in the classroom. But I wish that the hearts of these school children were pledged to the one God more than to the one nation under God. 

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