My Faith: Why I don't sing the 'Star Spangled Banner'
June 26th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Faith: Why I don't sing the 'Star Spangled Banner'

Editor's Note: Mark Schloneger is pastor of Springdale Mennonite Church in Waynesboro, Virginia.

By Mark Schloneger, Special to CNN

I choose to belong to a strange tribe. Goshen College, my alma mater, made national news this month when its board of directors decided that the “Star Spangled Banner” would not be played before athletic events.

As could be expected, the decision was met with confusion and contempt. Wasn’t this just another example of our traditional values being trampled by the unrelenting march of political correctness? What sort of ingrates object to our nation’s anthem, anyway? Fluffy-headed campus philosophers? Lazy latte-sipping liberals?

The decision not to play the national anthem reversed last year’s decision to play it for the first time in Goshen College’s 116-year history. That, too, caught the media’s attention.

It also caused widespread concern and confusion among the college’s students, professors, alumni, supporters and, yes, donors - many of whom felt like playing the anthem compromised the college’s Christian values.

Goshen is a small school in northern Indiana that's owned and operated as a ministry of Mennonite Church USA. I am a Goshen graduate, a longtime member of the Mennonite Church and the pastor of a Mennonite congregation.

Mennonites live in countries all over the world. Though we speak many languages, have different ethnic origins, and express our faith in diverse ways, we all claim the Anabaptists in 16th century Europe as our spiritual ancestors.

The Anabaptists agreed with most of the ideas of the Protestant Reformation but felt that reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin didn't go far enough. Anabaptists rejected the practice of infant baptism, for instance, believing that water baptism should be reserved for believers who confess a faith in Jesus.

Because they understood the exercise of state power to be inconsistent with the church’s identity and mission, Anabaptists also advocated for the strict separation of church and state. This then-radical stance was prompted by both theology and necessity: Anabaptists had the distinct notoriety of being tortured and killed by both Catholics and Protestants wielding the power of the state against them.

Instead of compromising their core convictions about what it means to follow Jesus, thousands of Anabaptist men and women adhered to their freedom of conscience even as they were mocked by neighbors, burned at stakes and drowned in rivers.

Although there certainly are diverse viewpoints among individual Mennonites today, we continue to advocate for the strict separation of church and state. Most Mennonite churches do not have flags inside them, and many Mennonites are uncomfortable with the ritual embedded in the singing of the national anthem.

That’s because we recognize only one Christian nation, the church, the holy nation that is bound together by a living faith in Jesus rather than by man-made, blood-soaked borders.

To Mennonites, a living faith in Jesus means faithfully living the way of Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies and he loved his enemies all the way to the cross and beyond. Following Jesus and the martyrs before us, we testify with our lives that freedom is not a right that is granted or defended with rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. True freedom is given by God, and it is indeed not free. It comes with a cost, and it looks like a cross.

It’s a strange tribe to which I belong, and sometimes it’s hard to be strange. We struggle to be inclusive in our welcome yet passionate in our identity. Our desire for acceptance, for approval, is strong, and we don’t always live up to the convictions that we set before us.

We must repent of that, for the world cannot know of its brokenness and hopelessness without a people who show a holistic way of life. The world cannot know that there is an alternative to violence and war without a people of peace making peace. The world cannot know that the weak and the vulnerable are cared for by God without a people practicing an economy centered on sharing and mutual aid.

The world cannot know the unsurpassable worth of human life without a people who consistently work to protect it - in the fetus, in the convict, in the immigrant, in the soldier, and in the enemy.

These convictions do not reflect ingratitude or hatred for our country. Rather, they reflect a deep love for the church and a passionate desire for the church to be the church.

Mennonite beliefs and practices seem bizarre to some and offensive to others. But it’s life in this strange tribe that keeps me faithful to what I believe. I love my country, but I sing my loyalty and pledge my allegiance to Jesus alone.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Schloneger.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Mennonite

soundoff (4,381 Responses)
  1. morpunkt

    Their hearts are in the right place, in terms of trying to create a Utopian-like nation less brotherhood of Christians, united under the guidance of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, that won't happen unless there is a return of Him, and He becomes the ruler of the world.
    But for now, we have to heed the admonition He gave to His disciples, "render that which is Caesar's unto Caesar and that which is God's, unto God. In other words, nations serve a purpose and need our devotion, until His return.
    (Of course, I speak unto the believers out there. The rest of you guys can scoff.)

    June 27, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  2. William D

    This statement should have said God not Go

    June 27, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  3. Narry Hippobottomus

    Watching the "patriots" and religious loons go at it is like watching the Nazis and the Communists battle each other in World War II – you kind of hope both sides wipe each other out so that the rest of us can live free of all that nonsense.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wasn't that a scene in George C. Scott's Patton? Sad thing is with radical nuts on all sides you Atheist really do not have that much of a winning hand dealing with your own loons. 🙂

      June 27, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Harry Hippobottomus

      Why do grown adults feel the need to resort to foolishly childish smileys instead of communicating with words? Every time I see one, I automatically lose some respect for the poster, even if I agree with them.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Aww...then I guess I had better change who I am and what I do to make sure I have you... aa...aaa...

      ^^^ACHOO!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Whoops ..sorry about that Narry ... I got smily faces all over your jacket. Lighten up Narry, this is the Belief Blog. Neither you or me is going to drastically change anyones opinions here. Folks that come to this blog are too strong in their mind and their opinions. In other words, there are no weak minds here. I could post paragraphs if I wished but what is the point, you are not going to change and believe as I do and I am not going to change to what you believe, no matter how right both of us feel our points are.

      That you do not like smiley faces is sad.... I guess endless sides screaming and shouting at each other is more respectful to you? Sorry Kid, I do not play that way. I smile because I want you and others to know that folks can smile and disagree. We do not have to do a VA Tech, Abortion Doctor shooting or a Giffords shooting, just because we disagree.

      In other words... I might think you are dead wrong but I hope that does not mean we can not be friendly and respectful in our conversations/post. 🙂

      AAAA.... whew held that sneeze in 🙂

      June 27, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Mike D

      Oh Harry, you obviously have never heard of the Internets

      June 27, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Is it dusty in here?

      LOL – and gesundheit! 😀

      June 27, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  4. nednederland

    Longest episode of "Deep Thoughts" ever.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  5. LEB

    "True freedom is given by God, and it is indeed not free. It comes with a cost, and it looks like a cross."

    No, true freedom comes with people demanding it, not only through their governments but also in their day-to-day lives. Freedom is a human concept. The Bible teaches that slavery is okay and women are no more important than a man's donkey. "God" in fact DOES NOT grant freedom, he grants the majority of people to be enslaved to a wealthy and powerful (but "faithful") few.

    And what does freedom look like? It looks like a whole bunch of paper utilized in recording not just the outlines of how our nation was to be constructed, but also later laws that are designed to protect citizens... protection from the government, protection from being owned by other people, protection from each other. All that paper is representative of laws that have been agreed on and will be obeyed, because adhering to those laws is intended to foster a peaceful and cohesive society. Humans made law. Humans continue to make law. "God" has no part in it.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  6. pyrrho

    I don't see an issue with the Mennonites not playing the national anthhem because that is not a legal issue. Where I see a possible legal issue is when Mark Schloneger states "I love my country, but I sing my loyalty and pledge my allegiance to Jesus alone". When he quotes "Jesus alone" it sounds like (maybe not exactly) a muslim might say "Allah alone". I hope he realizes that civil law comes before religious law. If it did not then we would have competing religious laws (Sharia, "Mennonite laws", Catholic laws and who knows what sects laws) and burning at the stake or beheading might become common even in the USA. The Mennonites might well live their own lives if they don't distrupt the rest of society but they should not do what (for instance) the Catholic church has done and "declare" that their pedophiles can be "cured" by the church and face no civil penalty.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • He's right.


      June 27, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Ted M.

      You raise a good point there. Without secular law being supreme, religious beliefs will have no way to keep from clashing.
      Murder would be virtually certain. Religious corruption a certainty, as well. There would be no secular law to stop them.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:05 am |

    Just like regilious folks, they claim to be inclusive through exclutivity

    June 27, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Is it possible to not lose what makes a group special while at the same time being part of Society?

      June 27, 2011 at 1:16 am |

      No. so making such claims are false.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So when the Native Americans have their festival in the county next to mine every year and we who are not Native American go and they welcome us ... are they wrong? Same with the Irish and Greek Festivals?

      Heck, what about the recent Pride weeks?

      I think you are wrong. A group can keep its uniqueness and be a participating part of society. Nice try though, better luck next time. A call for tolerance often times meaning to tolerate those who you have nothing in common with.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:29 am |

      you are idiot. Religious folk often exclude others. Native american festivals and pride parade are totally different. What I was just trying to say is that Religious folks, acting as though they are all inclusive, always seem to dictate what other need to do with their lives. That Religious folks live in mindset that is contradictory to what they say.you totally miss my point

      June 27, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Awww... I get it ...You do not like us Big bad Religious folks. 🙂 Of cource you do not see the simularities because that is what hate does, it blinds you to what is right in front of you. All I need is one interfaith group, one church sharing its buildings and I am wiping the floor with you and your hate. Its almost too easy. 🙂

      Of cource I missed your point, you made a blanket remark about an entire group. It was no different than all blacks steal and all whites are in the klan. Its gibberish whenever someone does that. According to your path the Army, Navy and Air Force could not work towards any common good. We could not have the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts working together at a car wash to help the local community.

      I won't even go into the Susan B Komen walk for the cure that had churches walking representing themselves.

      So, no ... I guess I did miss your intolerance...whoops..I mean your point. 🙂

      June 27, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Mike D

      @Mark. Classy words from a guy who thinks John Lennon getting shot by a psycho is more important than his music. Way to reward violence. The guy killed lennon simply to get famous. Way to give him what he wanted, guy

      June 27, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  8. Mike D

    Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    AND NO RELIGION TOO **********
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one

    June 27, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Forrest Gump: (voice-over) Some years later, that nice young man from England was on his way home to see his little boy and was signing some autographs. For no particular reason at all, somebody shot him.

      There yah' go 🙂

      June 27, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Mike D

      I just love the flood of pro-religious comments here on a very christian themed song, minus how he brings up how religion can cause just as much hate and violence as nationalism. A point clearly missed by this church and university of the story, but I guess they appear to be a lot more honest than most christian faiths, not that it gives them anymore validation really.
      I'm sure a lot of christians totally jam to this song, blocking out the clear line about religion. It's a beautiful song from a violent time for america.
      Not that John Lennon is a prophet or god (let's not start that Im bigger than Jesus fake 60s rage again), but I agree with every sentiment of this song, and wish the world, as a complete whole, could one day empathize with the message. I of course realize that this is a totally foolish notion, in that it will never be realized in this world, ever. thank god for designing humans and this cruel world

      June 27, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      MikeD ... First ... from Generation X ... Lennon the Beatles ... Yawwn 🙂 From that time I would go with "Cats in the Cradle" or Sam Cooke's "A Change Gonna Come".

      The song, I have heard a few times, I never felt that it was that meaningful. I posted the Forest Gump comments because to me that he was shot was more important. We have elements on both sides that just feel that talking is not worth while and actions are the only method to win a debate. That song, I do not agree with.... If Chapman understood the "thou shall not kill" and "He who has committed no sin caste the first stone" ... then Lennon might be alive today.

      The thing is that, "Nothing to kill or die for" .... good luck with that. Ever since man went from Hunter and Gatherers to farming... As soon as some one said that is mine and to take that from me is to take something out of my child's dinner plate....

      The question is that many in Faith know that is what Heaven will be like so maybe Lennon was speaking to those who are not of Faith.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • Mike D

      and @Mark, you're right, there ya go! A born again christian, Air Force kid killed Lennon so that he could get famous. Look it up. Pretty stupid indeed.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • Mike D

      @Mark. I totally agree it's a violent world. Christians seem to think otherwise of the human race and Jesus + 2000 years hasn't changed that. Let's be honest, nothing to kill or die for is about as naive as believing in religion.
      And cats in the cradle is a gay song if you ask me. Sam cooke is awesome, but I don't see how either are relevent to my point.. I'm not about to defend one of the most popular songs in pop culture.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Mike D

      And @Mark, yeah, maybe the BTK killer wouldn't have tortured his victims either if he had actually paid attention in the multiple church meetings he went to every week throughout his life, or he actually practiced Christianity for real. He was an avid church goer, btw, very involved. Killed and tortured a lot of people. many of which were in front of family members. one by one.
      And yeah, you posted that comment before knowing how lennon's killer was totally born again christian and even went to an evangelical presbyterian college

      June 27, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Mike D

      And @Mark, the fact you think that John Lennon getting shot is more important than his music and contribution to society is beyond sick. You are giving that born again psycho exactly what he wanted. Fame through violence. You are a pseudo-christian, at best.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  9. grey

    This country was founded on God folks. And we protect that commitment to god for the precious god loving people of the usa...so long as they are christian american citizens that is. because apparently anyone who doesnt fit that description isnt worthy of our concern or compassion and can move the heck out of here. we need their loyalty not their free thinking.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • VegasRage

      Really? Gee and to think I thought they came to escape the tyranny and taxation of unbearable Kings such as George III. What do you think the Magna Carta was all about? I'll tell you, MONEY! Many of our founding fathers owned slaves such as Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. We committed genocide against the Native Americans decimating over 12 million as we pushed westward. We damn near made Buffalo extinct hunting them for their coats. Where did God fit into those conquests? The pledge of allegiance was originally written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, he was a Christian socialist. The words "under God" were not added until in1954 under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Looks like God wasn't originally thought of on our pledge either.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • LEB

      No, it was founded on the idea that you shouldn't have to own land to be considered a citizen... as long as you were white and male, that is. In Europe, only lords had power. In America, the founding fathers didn't want a serfdom, but instead wanted all men (and I do mean men) to be free of that kind of oppressive society. Why do you think that the Bill of Rights is so intent on protecting people from the government? Because making citizens safe from the government made serfdom impossible... and thus, men (again, WHITE men) would be free.

      It's true that the Pilgrims and Puritans and early inhabitants of America were very religious and "escaping religious persecution," but frankly, they DESERVED to be persecuted. They were extremists, anarchists, and had King Charles I beheaded. They had no interest in coexisting peacefully with Anglicans, Catholics, or Christians of other denominations. Their ambition was to control England completely, and wipe out any beliefs and values other than their own.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Dana

      "was founded on God folks" Just don't forget it was founded by people who fled their homelands because they were persecuted for believing things outside the approved brand of religion there. That's why they understood the importance of the separation of Church and State. I don't want God interfering in my government any more than I want government interfering in my church.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "...to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God enti'tle them, "

      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator"

      "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, "

      Sounds like there was a bit of the Faithful and God there at our very beginning dude. 😀

      June 27, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • VegasRage

      @Mark from Middle River, notice nowhere do they say who's God. Christian's like to assume it was in favor of Christianity.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ever thought of the possibility that it might might be the same God(s)? Even if you just with the Abrahamic Faiths it is the same. The Radicals on all three are normally the ones saying different but as soon as you mention the God of Abraham and the God of Noah, they are lost.

      So for the most part, you can fill in the blank if it makes you comfortable... Hmm... Jefferson might have had a better handle on this than many thought. If you want to put in Mickey Mouse as your God then Rock on Mouseketeer :), but in the end Jefferson did acknowledge a Creator and a God, so even before the pledge change...God was there.

      How about ... "One Nation, under the Creator" .... would that work for you Atheist? How about from the latest True Grit ... "The Author of Authors" .... huh... work for yall ?


      June 27, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • VegasRage

      @Mark from Middle River, what's it too you if people believe in God or not? It's not your life or your problem. Your 2nd quote from the Declaration of Independence you didn't finish it.

      ...endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the "pursuit of Happiness."

      Everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness even if you disagree with it.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Vegas, when did I post that I cared in that way. If you choose to have Faith or not is cool with me. I would hope that you did but that is just me. The thing is that I hear some of the Radical Atheist saying things that are no different than other Radicals. The privacy of our own homes. Sorry, if other groups in society can say they are proud of this or that, I am pretty sure us of Faith will continue to do the same.

      Thing is how much tolerance do you have in your "tank" 🙂 Is me saying I am a Christian and I am blessed mean anything negative too you? I know if you said you were an Atheist and proud I do not feel that it is negative towards me.

      Ecch... To me, let us tune out the Radicals on all sides and see if we can see a peaceful society that includes all sides.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  10. He's right.

    No one has to sing Star Spangled Banner in America. All that is required of an American citizen is to obey local, state, and federal laws, and to pay taxes. Everything else is your prerogative. Someone want's to cry about it, that't their prerogative.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      No one legally has to be truthful with people on a daily basis either, however, sometimes there's a difference between what is legal and what is right.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • He's right.

      If you are implying that singing the star spangled banner is the right thing to do, that's your prerogative. It's also a value judgement for which you have provided no basis. Why is it right? Why is not singing it wrong? And according to who's authority?

      June 27, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      What, matters to one man means poop to another

      June 27, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      I have seen good men's blood spilled in the defense of our nation. I believe refusing to sing the national anthem, takes their sacrificies for granted.

      Ironically, few veterans who have seen combat refuse to sing the national anthem, while apparently, the individuals whom they went to war to protect, make short sighted philosophical statements about not signing the national anthem.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • amaathya

      Its strange to see Americans shying away from expressing their pride for their motherland. I mean, as immigrants when we come to this country we see the freedom that this country provides, the beautiful roads, the greenary, and it cultivates a beautiful love for this country, being a non-american I would still sing this beautiful song in praise of this beautiful country and its beautiful people. God Bless you America with Loads and Loads of Love from India!

      June 27, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      Thank you amaathya! Well, you've at least met one person, who, despite our nations mistakes and errors, is STILL PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.

      Our nation isn't perfect, but it's STILL THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD TO LIVE

      June 27, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • LEB

      @Ryan Smith - And what if you happen to believe that those good men's lives were wasted in unjustifiable wars (*cough cough* Iraq *cough*)? Why should we celebrate death? To properly honor military men and women who have died, we should not be singing the National Anthem in celebration. We should mournfully be singing a funeral dirge.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • He's right.

      You didn't answer any of my questions.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      @LEB – whether you belive the war in Iraq was just or not, makes no difference in whether you sing the national anthem to honor their sacrifice. They went to war and sacrificed their lives because that is what they were ordered to do, agree or disagree with the governments decisions, these soldiers gave their lives with a red, white, and blue patch on their right shoulder.

      Whether you agree with the war or not, they died ultimately trying to make our country a better place, and that should be honored. Due to their service to make this country better, the National Anthem is certainly an appropriate way to honor their sacrifice.

      Perhaps if you had served in a combat zone, you might feel differently.....

      June 27, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Mr Standard

      This was not really about the National Anthem. Sure they don't sing it but all this article is saying is that his religion is better than yours. Notice how there is only 2 little paragraphs talking about the Anthem. I'm personally a supporter of the playing of it, I guess you get a different view when you enlist. Just saying "Not a Real Article"

      June 27, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • ufadoof

      In order for someone to answer your question, you actually have to ask one.

      June 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  11. Greg Gilbert

    One should only pledge themselves to good ideals, not to a country or a flag.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      I completely disagree. Our nation would not exist today if men hadn't been willing to make that pledge.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • grey

      well i completly agree, because pledging to good ideals vs pledging to a flag is the difference between US and communist china

      June 27, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Ryan Smith


      That is the point. Pledging allegiance is not necessarily pledging allegiance to a government, but a pledge to live up to the American ideals. A pledge to make their country a better place, and sometimes this means that your viewpoint may disagree with the decisions of a government.

      America, as a country, is not a government, but rather, a collection of people.

      That is completely different than China.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  12. Ryan Smith

    Unfortunately, the author misses the point. God and his faith, want him to be a stand-up American, who works to make this country a better place..... reciting a pledge of allegiance does nothing but verbally state a commitment that his religion would already want him to make.

    Unfortunately, many religous people in the modern age are making this authors same misguided conclusion. God wants us to be the best Americans we can be and for each of us to strive to make our country a better place to live.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Amy

      OMG. Did God come out with a new book where he talks about America?!?!?!?!

      June 27, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      Amy...OMG..lol.. You COMPLETELY miss the point..

      The principles expressed are based on ideals explicitly stated in the Bible, and yes, the Bilble DOES talk about being a good and responsible citizen in whichever place you live.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Amy

      Two things 1. You should have said that in your original post. 2. So that is applicable to countries that hate America? Because if so then God would want them to be the best countrymen they can be and kill us?

      June 27, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Matt

      Please stop citing the bible....you're talking about the most revised work of fiction in the history of human civilization. Give it up!

      June 27, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • fred

      Huh? God wants us to be the best Amercians we can be? What version of the Bible do you read?!

      June 27, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • He's right.

      Ok, where in the Bible, or whatever holy book you subscribe to, does it say that God wants everyone to be a stand up American. That doesn't make any sense?

      June 27, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      Unfortunately, people with your viewpoint have lost sight of the countless sacrifices that have been made to help our country experience an incredible level of success and have also lost the value in devoting oneself to upholding the ideals of patriotism and honor. A devotion to make this country a better place to live, not just for me, but for generations to come.

      Honestly, I have not now, and I never will give up on living these ideals out as they are both worth living and dying for.

      It is a shame more men and women in our country don't live thier lives devoted to making this country a better place.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • He's right.

      According to the Bible, pledging allegiance to anything other than God is a big no no. Just saying.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • He's right.

      you speak of sacrifices as if every sacrifice is noble. What of the sacrifices that countless African slaves have made on behalf of this country? What of the sacrifices that the native tribes of this land have made? What of the persecution endured by numerous minority groups, whether it be religious, ethnic or racial? You think singing songs and pledging allegiance to a flag (Idolatry by the way) is going to make America a better place?

      There are grievances that are unaccounted for, and to ever think that they can be repaid is pure fantasy. The best anyone can do is live and let live, be it whether you want to sing songs and wave flags, or read holy books, or play golf. But to imply that anyone owes it to their country, whether that means government or people or whatever arbitrary image pops in your head when you think of the word "America", to pledge their allegiance and glorify it in spite of its spotty history is ridiculous.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      What a short sighted view point!

      Our nation has made it's mistakes, but it is still the greatest nation on this earth. You could have been born in a hut in somalia, but instead, you've been blessed with freedom. Shouldn't you be thankful for this? Don't you understand how blessed you are? Why WOULDN'T you want to make this country a better place for your children?

      Pledging allegiance is a statement of devotion to do just that, to try and make this a better place to live. Thankfully, men and women were willing to do this over our 200 year history, if they had taken YOUR viewpoint, America would never have enjoyed the success that it has. Also, by adopting your viewpoint, you accept the fact that America's greatest days are beind it, which I refuse to believe. Do what you will, but while you "live and let live", I will strive to make this country better for my kids..... and for yours.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • He's right.

      Back to the topic. The author's religious convictions are such that he cannot in good conscience pledge allegiance to the flag or sing the National Anthem. This is his right, which is protected by the first amendment.

      If you have a problem with this, that's your right protected by the same amendment. If you propose that something should be done about it, then you are not making America a better place, you are making it a worse place by insisting that anyone who doesn't adopt your viewpoint is wrong.

      Hitler followed that same pattern. There was a worldwide religious group during that era known as Bible Students (today known as Jehovah's Witnesses) The ones in Germany during that time refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler, and they refused to fight in his armies, on the basis that it did align with their religious convictions. They were branded as traitors and tossed in the concentration camps along with the jews.

      How is your reasoning any less fascist than Hitlers?

      June 27, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      I agree that he DOES have the right to do this. My point is only that it is a short sighted viewpoint that overlooks and underappreciates the many struggles that men have endured to bring him freedom.

      I make this country a better place by teaching and living out the American ideals of freedom, integrity, and honor. Obviously, our country hasn't always followed these ideals like they should have, even so, that does not make them any less worth striving for.

      I support his right, I just believe is viewpoint is shortsighted. Not exactly sure how that's fascist...lol....

      June 27, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • He's right.

      then we are in agreement. It's worth noting that many people do not support the rights of those that disagree with them. I mistook you for one of them.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  13. G

    We are not great anymore.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • News Flash

      Exactly. You are already a Third World country. Just look at your educational system, (15-30 most subjects) you abandoned your space program, your debt is like Greece's and all other Western societies have health care for everyone. You can say you are the greatest until you are blue in the face, doesn't make it so.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  14. Suzanne

    You can leave the USA – I'm fine with that. Good luck to you.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Amy

      So can you. Your response is annoying.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Matt

      "If you don't like it well then you can just leave 'mericuh" What an original and eloquent retort! I'm sure no one has ever heard that one before.

      Leave? No. Stay and change the nation to our liking.....YUP.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  15. Mike R

    Interesting but the Mennonite position as explained by the author cannot be supported entirely by the Bible. Going beyond Gods word or not accepting all of it is wrong, according to the Bible.

    The Bible, for example, does not call the minister, Pastor. That name is reserved as one of the names for an Elder in the Church.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Ryan Smith

      That is a good point. The author makes his own assumptions based on his interpretation of the Bible. This doesn't mean that his interpretation is correct.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  16. Volcano God

    If you can't respect the flag, please move to Quebec or France ASAP where you belong. Our country was founded on God..... Don't like it, then please leave and take your flag/country hating family with you.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Amy

      Oh my. Small known fact: Jesus preached love not hate. Calm down.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Atom Spectre

      That's the great thing about America, you don't have to respect it.. and you have to deal with that. The American flag has to EARN my respect.... it has yet to do so. But I'll continue to do my work so one day, my children can live in a healthy, rational and delusional free America.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • mr tell it like it is

      you sir, are an idiot.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Mike D

      Yeah, talk like that clearly shows you don't understand America at all. It's a free country, didn't you know? 😀 You don't have to leave just b/c you disagree with something

      June 27, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • L33tmoaf

      @Atom Spectre: Let's see without America you and your children wouldn't cease to exist. Blunt statement, but think about it and read your history books.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • ab_contador

      Thats not the way our country works my friend - if you don't love it, you CHANGE it, thats one of the things that makes us great. We would be even greater if we could purge all the religion from this country - at the very least from schools and government - it is a cancer that needs to be cut out. Practice your religion in the privacy of your own home, don't you dare try to shove it down my throat.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • He's right.

      This man is correct. Christianity as it is described in the bible is inconsistent with flag veneration and nationalism. All those so called Christians that try to legislate their views missed the point entirely.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Practice your religion in the privacy of your own home, don't you dare try to shove it down my throat."

      You are another that has taken a page out of the Pat Robertson 700 club handbook. Your words are basically the same as his towards Gay and Lesbian Americans. "Be Gay in the privacy of your own home...Do not shove your Gay views and lifestyles down societies throat...."

      Gotta love you intolerable radicals on both sides..... you do not like someone, make the offer for them to not be in society and to stay in their homes hidden in shame.

      Sorry dude... didn't work for so many groups in society you must be a fool if you think it will work on those of Faith ... 😀

      June 27, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • fred

      By that logic, you should go live in some facist religious state like Saudia Arabia or Iran. You'd fit right in with the thinking there.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  17. ken

    as an atheist, i respect this gentleman's point of view and his faith far more than most "religious" people I encounter n a daily basis....

    June 27, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  18. Bobbo

    Notice that huge American flag?? A flag carried parallel to the ground violates the US Code...but everyone does it...including the military. Patriotism be "selection."

    June 27, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Marty

      You've never actually read the U.S. Flag Code, have you?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  19. Richard

    I was at a theme park that shall remain nameless in Gilroy California and was made to listen to the Anthem right before the gates opened. I am about as patriotic as Jack Bauer but somehow it made my skin crawl.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • TB

      I dident know there were any theme parks in Gilroy. Are you taking about the annual garlic festival?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Lou Sypher

      Ahhh, Gilroy Gardens... Lemme guess, you have young children.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  20. TB

    It amazes me how many athiests and religion-bashers are so attracted to articles on faith and religion. Do they not have anything more productive or even entertaining to do with their time?

    June 27, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Mike D

      What's more offensive than, "we're going to heaven, you're going to hell"?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Mike D

      And would you rather have this be a one-sided debate? Go to a christian website for that plz

      June 27, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Mike D

      Perhaps 'preaching to the choir' does have religious roots? 😀

      June 27, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • I'm Annoyed

      Mike, I don't know if TB has been deleting his comments or what, but if it's just you making the replies then I think you proved his point pretty well. Chill out man, and quit responding in that obnoxious demeaning manner. If you have a good point to make, then do it respectfully.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • LEB

      Why don't Christians have better things to do with their time when they're bashing atheists, making stupid assumptions about what atheists believe, telling atheists that they are eternally damned, and saying that atheists aren't real Americans? Christians (and other religions) started the hate. If you exude hate, don't be surprised when you get an unfriendly response.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Mike D

      @I'm Annoyed: yes, you got me, I pressed Return 3 times instead of once. My sincerest apologies. And I don't see how my three sentences prove anything. Are you totally anal or trying to play referree on an internet comment board? 😀 And do you have a point to add to the subject?
      To address his claim, I do find this pretty entertaining, and yes, I have plenty more productive things to do with my time, but religious fanatics who don't know their history or their facts or human beings in general really draws my attention like nobody's business. and my kids are asleep. Im a fast typer as well

      June 27, 2011 at 1:41 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.