Can Non-Theists Be Patriotic?

This blog is primarily a blog about our family’s homeschooling journey. But it is also a personal blog and sometimes I get political. It’s quite possible you disagree with me. All I ask is that comments remain respectful. ~Hampchick

I’m not sure that I’m patriotic. You won’t pass my house and see an American flag flying, I am not god-fearing, and I believe that one sign of a great nation is that it cares for all of its people, not just those that have certain advantages or fit within a particular ‘norm’. On the other hand, I try to stay informed, I mostly live within the law, I believe the freedoms we have in this country are the basis for what makes it great. I want the United States of America to be the best country we can make it for ALL of our citizens. I may not seem patriotic, but I am dedicated to this country of mine.

I also happen to believe that asking children to recite an oath, a promise, a pledge, that no one has taken the time to explain to them is wrong. When that oath to country also includes a pledge to God we are excluding all of those that believe in multiple gods (Hindu’s, Wiccans), as well as those that believe in no gods (Buddhists, atheists) from being completely honest in making that pledge.

I realize there are some citizens who are just fine with excluding other citizens in this way. I personally know people who believe this and have been told, this is our pledge and if I don’t like it ‘I should just leave’. That the pledge is the pledge, it’s tradition.  That all schools don’t routinely recite the pledge is another sign of the decline of our nation. Of course it is their right as free citizens of the U.S. to completely disagree with me. They can suggest that I leave this country that my children were born in, that I was born in, that my parents were born in. They can try to make me feel like I am not wanted because of my freely expressed opinion. What they can’t do is actually force me to leave, nor can they force me to take an oath I do not fully believe in. Thankfully, this is the beauty of our nation and the basis on which it was founded.

If you are not one of those people, but instead are someone who hasn’t really given it much thought. Maybe you happen to ascribe to one of the three world views that believe in a singular God—Christianity, Judaism, Islam—and therefore don’t feel excluded or dishonest when reciting the pledge, I ask something of you. I ask that you take a few minutes today to consider why this isn’t a small issue to those that are excluded. With the goal of understanding, I ask you to read the following article written by Dave Niose and try to put yourself in the shoes of Lisa, John, and their young daughter and ask yourself, would I feel welcome?

By most standards, Lisa and John are model citizens. He’s a veteran, they are both college grads, and they’ve been married for over ten years. Both have good jobs, John in high-tech and Lisa in the medical field. They live in the Boston suburbs, send their kids to public school, and spend most of their waking hours juggling busy schedules involving work, school, and the kids’ activities.

Nevertheless, in the eyes of some, there is reason to question the patriotism of Lisa and John…

Please read more of Mr. Niose’s article at: Mommy, don’t we love America? | Psychology Today.

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2 responses to “Can Non-Theists Be Patriotic?

  1. I am enjoying your blog because I like to see the homeschooling journey through different eyes.

    Thank you for sharing your heart on this subject matter. I have never thought of the words “under God” in that light before. I now understand how it would make someone feel awkward.

    I have to admit that I have always been one to support those words in reciting the Pledge. In fact, I usually say them with a feeling of exuberance. It is hard for me to imagine myself not loving God as much as I do.

    But I do not wish for someone to feel like an outcast for not believing the same as me. I On the other hand, I would like to keep saying my favorite phrase. There must be a compromise, right? Maybe schools and parents could educate students on the different beliefs of Americans? Maybe a special preface could be included before reciting the Pledge explaining the different faces of patriotism and the right to use either the words “under God” or “under law”?

    What are your thoughts?

    In general, I am in favor of presenting a rounded view.
    I do understand what it feels like to be an outcast in the classroom. In the area of science, we are forced to embrace the theory of evolution to explain the origins of our universe. Otherwise, we appear as second-class scientists.

    I would like my children to learn ALL of the different theories including intelligent design. I would like to teach them about ALL the religions (including humanism) so they can learn to think for themselves. I am attempting to educate more and not less.

    I will continue to read your blog to help me see another worldview. 🙂

    • Sarah Thank you for your thoughts. I believe that the compromise is a return to the official Pledge of Allegiance as written by Francis Bellamy in 1892.

      I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

      If there is to be a solemn oath for all of our citizens, then a free society should make every effort to ensure that it is inclusive and not exclusive. Do you agree?

      I’m sorry you feel outcast in the classroom, although I don’t understand how you are forced to embrace anything. Learning is not force, learning can’t change what is in your heart and mind, it can only inform. In the end it is up to the individual to accept what they are taught or not. Intelligent Design is not taught in public schools because it is a theological opinion and therefore not of the realm of science. But there is nothing to prevent you from teaching it to your children, nothing to prevent you from embracing that belief if you wish. Because you seem interested in learning I want to let you know that you have confused the big bang theory with evolution. Evolution does not explain the origins of our universe or even the beginning of life, it explains the diversity of life on our planet and the mechanism by which life changes.

      I’m glad to hear you plan to educate your children about other world views and I wish that more people would.

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