Musings on Flag Day, Religio Americana, and the Power of Words

(or) Patriotism as a Pagan Value

Friends, Pagani, Citizens,

Today is the U.S. Flag Day holiday.  It is a  holiday/observance held on the 14th of June each year, when we in the United States commemorate the adoption of the Flag of the United States.

I will be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,

“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.”

As is recited at the beginning of each school day by school children.  (of course I will be modifying the “under God” to “under the Gods”…)

Actually though I am a little dis-satisfied with the Pledge, and not for it’s outright monotheism, although that does rankle a bit!

It seems to me that as an oath or statement it binds me to the Flag and the Republic, but not to my nations core values.  Now the Pledge does discuss the ideas of Liberty and Justice, but only as presumed and inherent qualities of the nation, not as the ideals or goals of the nation.  The Pledge assumes that the Republic is always enacting Liberty and Justice for all, which while it is our goal, well, we have not always succeeded.  We can look at the history of the United States and through lenses like the Civil War, and the Trail of Tears, and even the Iron Jawed Angels, we can see that our Nation continues to struggle towards perfecting the union. The pledge seems to ignore our continuing stuggle  in favor of a jingoistic “My Nation Right or Wrong” attitude that to me seems at its heart terribly un-American.

(to delve into the patriotic post-Bicentennial patios of my youth…)

Which is why I will also honor Flag Day by reciting the American’s Creed,

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

Which I discovered in my continuing studies and exploration in the Religio Americana.  What I like about the Creed, as opposed to the Pledge,  is that it is much more grounded in the ideals and intended workings of the U.S., and our Constitution and other founding documents.

Now you may be wondering about my turn of phrase Religio Americana…  The Religio Americana both as a U.S. Pagan approach to Patriotism, and the discussion group, evolved out of a couple of discussions in the old Beliefnet forums.  (here and here)

Basically, what started as a discussion of whether recon Pagans of the Greek and Roman stripe should make some sort of token observances of Christianity in those places where Christianity is the State religion, evolved into discussions of how the Romans and other ancient Pagans honored their Nation States (those that had them), and the question of to what degree should/could/might/do we contemporary Pagans do so?

Religio Americana, and other forms of Pagan Patriotism, are grounded ~like so much of the Pagan paths~ in practice.  I pour libations and light incense on Memorial Day and U.S. Independence Day, I will make offerings to the guiding and guardian Spirits of the current President and various Senators, Congressmen, and other Civil Servants, I will pour libations to the Heroes and Founders of my Nation; and I will raise my glass in toast (at the very blessed least) on Veteran’s Day!

All of these are practices with a long and ancient Pagan lineage.

I’ve ranted along this general line before, but you needn’t take only my word for it!  You can see the Pagan (and Heathen!) value of Patriotism exemplified in so many ways in words and actions by many of our fellow Pagans across a number of paths!

So Peace, and a Happy U.S. Flag Day!


9 thoughts on “Musings on Flag Day, Religio Americana, and the Power of Words

  1. I sent the link to this post to my best friend. He is currently in Afghanistan and the truth is that these last few days have been difficult for him. He has been deployed between Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti for the last few years and I can even begin to tell you how that affects you.

    When you are away from home you try to remind yourself that “you are fighting for something”. That’s how I used to feel. Then you come back to find people that look at your own ideals as something wicked and out of place–it is painful and it makes you question yourself and the logic of defending the rights of those who say that you shouldn’t have any. My best friend and I had that discussion my than once… okay more than 15 times, especially around the time when the Pentacle was not considered a religious symbol by the VA.

    But “things are changing–very slowly, but they are.” That’s what how I tittled the email when I sent your link to my best friend. I know that things are difficult now, but if we speak our minds we’ll change the world–one post at a time!

    Thanks for sharing Pax. And may the message of these post touch the heart of every person who takes a look at Old Glory. Today, tomorrow and always….

  2. Perhaps you should try writing your own Pledge or Creed, that includes what you see as core values to our nation. We used to say the Pledge when I was growing up and rather like the Lord’s Prayer it was something you just recited quickly without thinking about what it really meant. I didn’t know there was a Creed, so I found that interesting. You have some nice ideas about honoring our country & its values and heroes.

    Here’s my post on the subject:

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  6. pan

    “I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws”. I have found what you said to be horrifying! In Germany, during the 1930’s and 40’s, a law required all Germans to report the whereabouts of any Jewish acquaintances, friends, or neighbors so they could be taken off to death camps and killed. Failure to do so meant violating a law.
    Do you actually think that people should obey all laws on the books? Please comment on this.


    1. Pax

      Hey Pan,

      The short response is …. Depends on the law, is it Just? Is it Fair? Is it Reasonable? Does it mesh with the ideals of our Nation?

      I am going to respond to this in more depth with a post….

      Peace, and Thanks for your comment!

  7. Pingback: A Response to a Comment… « Chrysalis

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