Sunday, July 3, 2011

One Nation Under Babylon

This July 4th I'm planning to attend my ward's Independence Day pancake breakfast. I'm relatively new to this ward and have not yet attended any fourth of July events, but in previous wards I've belonged to it was not uncommon at some point for everyone to gather together for group idol worship. I'm curious to see if that happens here.

At least the festivities usually kick off with an opening prayer to the true God, though the person offering the invocation can usually be counted on to offer something about how grateful we are on this day for all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Never mind that with each passing year, what few freedoms we still possess are rapidly being stripped from us, and that those who have hijacked our republic are moving at full throttle to install a police state in its place. This is Independence Day, after all, and fooling ourselves into believing we are as free as our grandparents were is all just part of the game. Deceiving ourselves into thinking we still have anything to celebrate is essential to the illusion.  What fun are fireworks and watermelon if we're just going spend the day depressed?

At most fourth of July celebrations I have attended, at some point the scouts arrive as a color guard, and that's when the members place their hands over their hearts and say a prayer to the false god that wants to imprison them.

I won't be participating in that prayer.

I'll stand quietly and respectfully as I always do while the crowd practices their peculiar religious rite. My reasons for declining to participate are simple: as a patriotic American with a deep reverence for the men who put their names to the Declaration of Independence, I try not to participate in any activity that would horrify them.

And there is little question the pledge of loyalty many Americans routinely and cavalierly offer up to the government would absolutely horrify the men who sacrificed so much to found our nation. They considered the central government to be a potential monster that could easily swallow up our liberties if not constantly kept in check. If we expect to remain free we must maintain eternal vigilance against our own government, not swear an oath to love and obey it. Even in its most benign state, government is something we must keep a close eye on.

Government is not reason,” George Washington reminds us, “It is not eloquence. It is fire. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.”

Or, as Edwin Black has more recently put it, “That which warms us can also incinerate us.”

Like every other child growing up in America, I just naturally assumed the pledge of allegiance was as old as America herself. For all I knew, George Washington stood up at the beginning of every session in Philadelphia, faced the flag, and led the rest of the delegates in reciting the pledge. It made sense to me that America's greatest patriots would perform this ceremony every day without fail.

The possibility that the founding fathers would have considered the pledge of allegiance to be a slap in the face after all their effort was something that simply would not have occurred to me.

Identical Cousins

Far from having any roots in the principles of liberty, the modern pledge of allegiance was the brainchild of men whose every waking goal was to convert America from a land of free individuals into a society of cheerfully oblivious drones.

Edward Bellamy was the author of a very popular novel published in 1887, titled Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Its protagonist was one Julian West, a Boston gent who goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 to find a perfect world run by the federal government. “Wasteful competition” has been eliminated because now one giant company owns everything. Everyone earns the same amount of money, and jobs are assigned according to ability (if you have a hard job, you work fewer hours, and if you have an easy job, you work longer). Somehow, because everyone makes the same salary, there is no crime or theft. (Don't ask me to explain why that is.) Those few “morally deficient” individuals who don't care to go along with the program are imprisoned, re-educated, or simply “eliminated.” For everyone else, life is a cabaret.

Reading this novel in a post-Soviet society, one is struck by its silly unworkable idealism, and those familiar with the futuristic works of Phillip K. Dick might expect to find that in the end everything falls apart and the hero narrowly escapes what is in truth a gulag in disguise.

But no. Bellamy was serious. This was not a dystopian society, it was Utopia; a minutely managed nation where every individual's will is subsumed under the collective. To Edward Bellamy, paradise was a well-regulated corporate military machine where everyone did as he was assigned and no one thought to ask questions. In Looking Backward, West finds true love,  the workers are content, and they all live happily ever after.

Bellamy's novel was hugely popular in its day, and is considered by many to have been a key influence in the socialist movement in America, as well as inspiring the emerging socialist movements in Russia and Germany. Bellamy convincingly showed how the perfect society could be attained. All you had to do was convince the individual that the life of the hive was more important than his own.

But where Edward Bellamy only wrote about socialist theory, his cousin Francis was intent on seeing it put into practice. Francis Bellamy was a Baptist preacher who was constantly preaching that Jesus was a socialist. He was apparently unable to grasp Jesus's teachings that altruism must spring from within the individual, not have it forced upon him from an outside authority.

Apparently not all Baptists were stupid back then, because Bellamy kept getting fired from his congregations for his radical interpretation of scripture and his increasing socialist activism. Eventually he landed a job on the staff of The Youth's Companion, the pre-eminent children's magazine run by Daniel Ford, who was a strong supporter of Bellamy's socialist views.

Beginning in 1888, the inside back cover of every issue of The Youth's Companion contained a full page ad promoting the magazine's campaign to sell flags to public schools as premiums for subscriptions.

Up until this time no one had seriously considered flying federal flags over a schoolhouse; flags were more appropriate to military installations. But to Bellamy and his socialist cohorts at Youth's Companion, instilling schoolchildren with a sense of national pride was a necessary first step toward a nation that could be managed and controlled.

Francis was also a key player with the National Education Association, an organization intent on converting the American school system into something more closely resembling the Prussian model. Whereas in the many private and religious schools in America, children were trained in critical thinking so that they might one day go forth and make their way in the world, the Prussian system, as described by John Taylor Gatto, “reduced human beings during their malleable years to reliable machine parts, human machinery dependent upon the state for its mission and purpose.”

The Prussian system, writes Rex Curry, “trained the young to report to a central government facility, to memorize shallow identical opinions, and to march at the sound of government bells.”

The “success” of the Prussian model of education was eventually demonstrated by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, when those nations went to war against each other. Both countries' soldiers had been schooled under the Prussian model, and though their leader's political philosophies were virtually identical (the argument came down to which leader should be dominant, Hitler or Stalin?), the actual participants in the war were incapable of examining the reasons why they were fighting and dying. They understood only that their country demanded sacrifice, and they willingly fell into line as they had been trained to do since childhood.

But long before that, Francis Bellamy was advocating for state control of the minds of American youth. “The training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State."

Citizens,” to men like Bellamy, meant docile subjects of the state. “If the individual is led to surrender certain of his freedoms for the good of all, he surrenders to a paternalism of all the people.” Again, Bellamy confuses the teachings of Jesus with his own earthly philosophy.  Where Jesus taught that surrendering to Him would bring the spirit to life,  Bellamy's advocacy of surrender to the state leads to spiritual death. The guy was a moron.

Benjamin Franklin had a counter argument to that over a century earlier. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 

Bellamy soon went to work with editor James B. Upham on a scheme for a day of national patriotism to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Columbus day. The Youth's companion vigorously promoted the idea with contests and promotions. It's impossible to underestimate the influence of that magazine in its day. Virtually every schoolchild in the country was either a subscriber or had access to it through friends or school. The NEA soon appointed Francis Bellamy Chairman for the celebration. President Benjamin Harrison encouraged the entire nation to join in and participate. It was decided that on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' birthday, every school in the country would display the flag (purchased through Youth's Companion, of course), and at a given time, two million schoolchildren all over the country would salute the flag in unison. This thing was big. 

But what about that salute? How should it be done? A simple military salute seemed less than satisfying. It was decided there should be some type of words to go along with it.

Three years earlier, a New York principal named Colonel Balch created a salute he taught to his kindergarten class, mostly children of immigrants. It was designed to be simple and aid in their assimilation. It went like this:

"We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country: one country, one language, one flag."

If this was what Americans said today when saluting the flag, I wouldn't be writing this article; I have no quarrel with it. In the Balch salute God comes first. Secondly, it expresses a sentiment without demanding the child engage in oathtaking.

But Francis Bellamy didn't like the Balch salute.  He wanted something that would condition the children toward a sense of nationalistic unity. You can't raise an army of nationalists unless you can get them to commit on an emotional level. For Bellamy, a simple salute wasn't going to cut it. He wanted the kids to swear a sacred oath. No matter that they wouldn't understand what they were swearing to; constant repetition would, over the years, endear the children's hearts to the State. Eventually Americans wouldn't even question what they were pledging to; they would just repeat it on demand.

Here is the pledge Francis Bellamy put together:

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

There was, of course, no mention of God in there.  That wouldn't come for another fifty years, a sop thrown to those Christian holdouts who were suspicious of the secular nature of the pledge.  When "under God" finally appeared in the pledge, it was as if someone had decided, "let's throw those crazy Christians a bone and see if that shuts 'em up."  It did.  Nary a peep of dissent was heard from religious leaders since, until recently when the possibility arose of that phrase being removed.  Religionists are easy to mollify.  Just give 'em something meaningless that sounds divine, and they'll buckle every time. 

The Bellamy Salute was delivered by the children with a straight-arm tribute pointing up toward the flag. By 1942 when it became apparent that the way our kids saluted the flag was exactly the same way the children of our enemies saluted theirs, Americans changed over to placing their hand on their heart as we do today.  Wouldn't want an obviously fascist ceremony to appear fascist now, would we?

Except for that part about the Nazi salute, the pledge seems pretty innocuous, right?

Well, there's nothing innocuous about any pledge, especially when you don't know what you're pledging to.

Whether you realize it or not, when you pledge allegiance to anything, you are swearing an irrevocable oath binding yourself as a slave to that thing forever. “Allegiance” is related to the word “liege.” In the middle ages a liege was a rope or a tether that was tied to a slave on one end and his master on the other. (If the word “Leash” comes to mind, that's no coincidence; “Liege” is middle french for our modern word “leash.”

You may recall old movies from the 1930's with Ronald Coleman or some other subject bowing and scraping his assent to the king, “Yes, my liege.” He was establishing the master-servant relationship. He had pledged his allegiance to the king.  According to common law, it is impossible to bear allegiance to more than one entity at a time.  There is truth to the scripture that says no man can serve two masters.

Ever wonder why you don't go around pledging allegiance to anyone else in your life?  You may love God, your spouse, or your children, but how often do you recite a pledge of allegiance to any of them?  There's only room in your life for one master, and you tethered yourself to that one back in grade school, Bucky. You've been giving the federal government first dibs on your life almost from the beginning.  What do you think that social security number means?

A pledge of allegiance to anyone or any thing is such a serious matter that only a fool or a child would enter into such an arrangement without thinking. That's why it's all the more insidious that we allow any pledge to be introduced to our children. Remember how seriously the people in the Book of Mormon took their oaths? Oath taking is not something that should be entered into by children.

Liberty And Justice For All?

So let's think about this. When we're pledging allegiance to the flag, we are pledging undying loyalty to something, but what? Certainly not a piece of cloth. It must be what that piece of cloth represents.

Is it America? That's kind of vague. What do we mean by “America?” Is it your friends, your family, your job? Is it the land? Or the people who live on the land? (Do you really want to declare yourself a slave to a bunch of people you don't even know?)

Oh, here it is: “and to the Republic for which it stands.” Okay, so you're pledging to be a slave to the Republic.

Except not one American in a thousand can even define what a Republic is. (Most Americans blithely believe we live in a democracy.) But let's settle on that. Let's assume you're pledging your personal allegiance to the Republic. Well, that creates a problem. If you are a slave to the Republic, you don't live in a Republic, since a Republic is a form of government where everyone is equal under the law.

So here's what I think the problem is with the pledge. Even though most Americans don't really think about what they are pledging to when they perform the pledge of allegiance to the flag, they are indeed participating in an emotional process that over time affects them at the core of their being.  Somehow they find themselves bound to that flag on a gut level, and they feel it.  The will follow that flag wherever it goes. Never mind the possibility -as the founders warned- that the government that was created to protect you could one day be hijacked from within. If that flag goes somewhere it shouldn't, as a symbol of empire conquering and engulfing other nations, your heart goes with it. Your love of the flag hampers your ability to critically assess whether your government's actions are proper or not.  Love the flag, love the empire. 

To paraphrase the words of Jesus, where your flag is, there will your heart be also.

I've run into people -good, faithful LDS people- who see nothing wrong with holding blind allegiance to the United States government. In fact, they insist it's doctrinal.

But as apostle J. Reuben Clark has affirmed, "God provided that in this land of liberty, our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired constitution which God himself set up."

Now, that's scriptural. In D&C 98, Jesus himself says “I the Lord justify you...in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; and as pertaining to law of man, anything more or less than this cometh of evil.” (Verses 6 and 7.)

Did you get that? Anything the government attempts that does not line up with the constitution cometh of evil. That's pretty clear.

Which brings us back to the $64,000 question: After all is said and done, isn't the pledge of allegiance just a harmless recitation? It's just a little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

Well, leaving aside the question of whether or not you believe in being your word, let me answer that question with this one: Is the primary song “Follow the Prophet” harmless? It's just some little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

We are now seeing a second generation of Mormons youth being raised on that pernicious false doctrine, a Luciferian teaching that not only can not be found anywhere in our scriptures, but is completely antithetical to all scripture and the words of  all the prophets prior to Wilford Woodruff, who blurted out that little fib one day when he found himself in a tight spot.  I'm certain he never expected the saints to be repeating his little white lie a hundred years later as gospel.

Do you feel that little primary song has done no harm to the church? Primary children grow up to be adults, believing that wisdom, knowledge, and salvation lie not in Christ, not in the scriptures, not in the Holy Ghost, but in hanging on every word of the president of the Church no matter what.

This false teaching that the prophet can never lead the church astray has been refuted over and over through the word of God, yet the teaching is so persistent that it was declared recently in a conference talk by a new general authority who hadn't gotten the memo. When such palpably false doctrine is delivered over the pulpit during general conference and no one refutes it for fear of giving offense, you know the Church is in trouble.

Harmless? Not by my reckoning.

The Pledge of Allegiance has been recited by American adults and children non-stop for the past 119 years. Consider the damage that has done to our country. We've raised generations of citizens who have no idea what the constitution is about, but who believe loyalty to government is their highest civic duty. They are taught that nothing can go wrong because the government has three branches constantly performing checks and balances on itself. 

When the bankers who hijacked our government tell these dumbed-down Americans that the country will crash and burn if they don't immediately agree to fork over their taxes to pay for the banker's bonuses, these Americans dutifully fall into line and pay up. When rogue presidents send the American flag into foreign countries to conquer, kill, and occupy, these American's hearts follow that flag and swell with pride for “all the good America is accomplishing overseas.”

Some of these people will actually sacrifice their own children to the State, placing them in a uniform where they are shoved into harm's way, proud of the fact that their child may die to defend the freedom of Americans at home. (But ask them to explain exactly how their child's death or disfigurement contributed to the defense of freedom in America, and all you'll get are blank stares.)

Slow, gradual conditioning is amazingly pernicious. The fact that some people reading this will be offended that I have challenged their precious pledge is itself a witness to how deeply ingrained that conditioning is. Francis Bellamy understood the scripture that says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.”

Conversely, Bellamy knew that if you train up a child in the way you want him to go, when he is older he will not depart from that, either.

The pledge of allegiance is anything but harmless. It creates a pavlovian response that has resulted over and over in a mindset that rejects critical thinking and defers to the government position in all matters.

It was this mindset that compelled Gordon B. Hinkley, on the eve of America's invasion of Iraq, to declare that “as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.”

So here we have The Mouthpiece Of The Lord telling us that he doesn't have any message for us from the almighty at the moment, but we should defer to the politicians.

It is now well known that those national leaders our prophet declared the people “under the direction of” deliberately lied to the nation about the causes and need for war. And yet the wars continue and increase, and few people since have asked these two simple questions:

1.  How is it that the Prophet of God could not see through the clear deceptions being foisted upon him by deceitful politicians,

and,

2.  In advising us to defer to our national leaders instead of upon the word of God (such as D&C 98:33 where the Lord strictly prohibits his people from going to battle in foreign lands), and subsequently learning that those leaders deceived us; is it not apparent that the prophet has led the members of the Church astray?
How about when he incorrectly declared that “those in the armed services are under obligation to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound.”

Did Gordon Hinckley really need to be reminded that in this nation, The People are sovereign, and not the president? Polls taken at the time showed an overwhelming majority of the people opposed the unprovoked attack on the Iraqi people, yet when congress refused to issue a declaration of war as required by the constitution, the president declared himself the new sovereign (“I'm the decider!”) and executed the war himself in direct defiance of God's decree that anything more or less than that which is permitted by the constitution cometh of evil.

Further, the Prophet of God directly deceived latter-day Saints serving in the military when he insisted that they are duty bound to follow the orders of their superiors no matter what. No soldier has any obligation to follow unconstitutional directives. Absolutely none. President Bush, and now President Obama have converted the American presidency into an empirical post. They deceive the people, and the Presidents of the Church lead the people astray by going along with that deception.

Why is it, I wonder, that ancient prophets like Nathan, Abinadi, and Captain Moroni were known for boldly calling civil leaders to repentance, while the prophets today appear to enjoy hob-knobbing with the powerful on the public stage?













But I digress.

Just Opt Out

I've talked to people who would love to not participate when the pledge of allegiance is taking place, but are afraid, or just don't know how. 

If you were to attend Catholic Mass with a friend, you would not feel any obligation to genuflect and cross yourself while there. This is someone else's religious ceremony, so you remain where you are and smile politely.  You don't have to take part, and you don't have to make a scene.

It's the same with the pledge. Because I respect other people's religious beliefs no matter how odd they may seem, when the pledge is announced I stand politely with my arms to my side, saying nothing. That's all there is to it. I don't rant and rail about the impropriety of it all, because after all, I was once a devout believer in the State religion myself. People don't take kindly to being confronted about their religious beliefs, and believe me, Flag Worship is a pagan religion.

You'll rarely come across people more attached to a religious ceremony than some people are to the pledge. It's more precious to them than their baptism.  Decades of placing the hand over the heart and swearing undying love for an inanimate object is going to result in deeply ingrained emotions toward that object.  So cut these people some slack.  Remember that not long ago you were just like them.

I love our national anthem, along with all the other hymns to America. They celebrate the country, the land, and the people. If I get the chance to sing any of those songs this weekend I'll be belting them out at the top of my voice (I still have the range to sing the national anthem, I'm proud to say.) 

Just don't expect to see me with the rest of the apostates in promising fealty to a false god. To mash a quote from both Patrick Henry and the prophet Joshua, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

                                                                 *****
For two more excellent and insightful pieces on the Pledge from a Mormon point of view, see here:

"Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance To The Flag," by Connor Boyack

"Misguided Patriotism," by Riley Drey
 
UPDATE: Alert Reader Lee provides this link to a YouTube video that I found apropo:


One Nation Under Babylon

This July 4th I'm planning to attend my ward's Independence Day pancake breakfast. I'm relatively new to this ward and have not yet attended any fourth of July events, but in previous wards I've belonged to it was not uncommon at some point for everyone to gather together for group idol worship. I'm curious to see if that happens here.

At least the festivities usually kick off with an opening prayer to the true God, though the person offering the invocation can usually be counted on to offer something about how grateful we are on this day for all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Never mind that with each passing year, what few freedoms we still possess are rapidly being stripped from us, and that those who have hijacked our republic are moving at full throttle to install a police state in its place. This is Independence Day, after all, and fooling ourselves into believing we are as free as our grandparents were is all just part of the game. Deceiving ourselves into thinking we still have anything to celebrate is essential to the illusion.  What fun are fireworks and watermelon if we're just going spend the day depressed?

At most fourth of July celebrations I have attended, at some point the scouts arrive as a color guard, and that's when the members place their hands over their hearts and say a prayer to the false god that wants to imprison them.

I won't be participating in that prayer.

I'll stand quietly and respectfully as I always do while the crowd practices their peculiar religious rite. My reasons for declining to participate are simple: as a patriotic American with a deep reverence for the men who put their names to the Declaration of Independence, I try not to participate in any activity that would horrify them.

And there is little question the pledge of loyalty many Americans routinely and cavalierly offer up to the government would absolutely horrify the men who sacrificed so much to found our nation. They considered the central government to be a potential monster that could easily swallow up our liberties if not constantly kept in check. If we expect to remain free we must maintain eternal vigilance against our own government, not swear an oath to love and obey it. Even in its most benign state, government is something we must keep a close eye on.

Government is not reason,” George Washington reminds us, “It is not eloquence. It is fire. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.”

Or, as Edwin Black has more recently put it, “That which warms us can also incinerate us.”

Like every other child growing up in America, I just naturally assumed the pledge of allegiance was as old as America herself. For all I knew, George Washington stood up at the beginning of every session in Philadelphia, faced the flag, and led the rest of the delegates in reciting the pledge. It made sense to me that America's greatest patriots would perform this ceremony every day without fail.

The possibility that the founding fathers would have considered the pledge of allegiance to be a slap in the face after all their effort was something that simply would not have occurred to me.

Identical Cousins

Far from having any roots in the principles of liberty, the modern pledge of allegiance was the brainchild of men whose every waking goal was to convert America from a land of free individuals into a society of cheerfully oblivious drones.

Edward Bellamy was the author of a very popular novel published in 1887, titled Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Its protagonist was one Julian West, a Boston gent who goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 to find a perfect world run by the federal government. “Wasteful competition” has been eliminated because now one giant company owns everything. Everyone earns the same amount of money, and jobs are assigned according to ability (if you have a hard job, you work fewer hours, and if you have an easy job, you work longer). Somehow, because everyone makes the same salary, there is no crime or theft. (Don't ask me to explain why that is.) Those few “morally deficient” individuals who don't care to go along with the program are imprisoned, re-educated, or simply “eliminated.” For everyone else, life is a cabaret.

Reading this novel in a post-Soviet society, one is struck by its silly unworkable idealism, and those familiar with the futuristic works of Phillip K. Dick might expect to find that in the end everything falls apart and the hero narrowly escapes what is in truth a gulag in disguise.

But no. Bellamy was serious. This was not a dystopian society, it was Utopia; a minutely managed nation where every individual's will is subsumed under the collective. To Edward Bellamy, paradise was a well-regulated corporate military machine where everyone did as he was assigned and no one thought to ask questions. In Looking Backward, West finds true love,  the workers are content, and they all live happily ever after.

Bellamy's novel was hugely popular in its day, and is considered by many to have been a key influence in the socialist movement in America, as well as inspiring the emerging socialist movements in Russia and Germany. Bellamy convincingly showed how the perfect society could be attained. All you had to do was convince the individual that the life of the hive was more important than his own.

But where Edward Bellamy only wrote about socialist theory, his cousin Francis was intent on seeing it put into practice. Francis Bellamy was a Baptist preacher who was constantly preaching that Jesus was a socialist. He was apparently unable to grasp Jesus's teachings that altruism must spring from within the individual, not have it forced upon him from an outside authority.

Apparently not all Baptists were stupid back then, because Bellamy kept getting fired from his congregations for his radical interpretation of scripture and his increasing socialist activism. Eventually he landed a job on the staff of The Youth's Companion, the pre-eminent children's magazine run by Daniel Ford, who was a strong supporter of Bellamy's socialist views.

Beginning in 1888, the inside back cover of every issue of The Youth's Companion contained a full page ad promoting the magazine's campaign to sell flags to public schools as premiums for subscriptions.

Up until this time no one had seriously considered flying federal flags over a schoolhouse; flags were more appropriate to military installations. But to Bellamy and his socialist cohorts at Youth's Companion, instilling schoolchildren with a sense of national pride was a necessary first step toward a nation that could be managed and controlled.

Francis was also a key player with the National Education Association, an organization intent on converting the American school system into something more closely resembling the Prussian model. Whereas in the many private and religious schools in America, children were trained in critical thinking so that they might one day go forth and make their way in the world, the Prussian system, as described by John Taylor Gatto, “reduced human beings during their malleable years to reliable machine parts, human machinery dependent upon the state for its mission and purpose.”

The Prussian system, writes Rex Curry, “trained the young to report to a central government facility, to memorize shallow identical opinions, and to march at the sound of government bells.”

The “success” of the Prussian model of education was eventually demonstrated by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, when those nations went to war against each other. Both countries' soldiers had been schooled under the Prussian model, and though their leader's political philosophies were virtually identical (the argument came down to which leader should be dominant, Hitler or Stalin?), the actual participants in the war were incapable of examining the reasons why they were fighting and dying. They understood only that their country demanded sacrifice, and they willingly fell into line as they had been trained to do since childhood.

But long before that, Francis Bellamy was advocating for state control of the minds of American youth. “The training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship belongs irrevocably to the State."

Citizens,” to men like Bellamy, meant docile subjects of the state. “If the individual is led to surrender certain of his freedoms for the good of all, he surrenders to a paternalism of all the people.” Again, Bellamy confuses the teachings of Jesus with his own earthly philosophy.  Where Jesus taught that surrendering to Him would bring the spirit to life,  Bellamy's advocacy of surrender to the state leads to spiritual death. The guy was a moron.

Benjamin Franklin had a counter argument to that over a century earlier. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 

Bellamy soon went to work with editor James B. Upham on a scheme for a day of national patriotism to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Columbus day. The Youth's companion vigorously promoted the idea with contests and promotions. It's impossible to underestimate the influence of that magazine in its day. Virtually every schoolchild in the country was either a subscriber or had access to it through friends or school. The NEA soon appointed Francis Bellamy Chairman for the celebration. President Benjamin Harrison encouraged the entire nation to join in and participate. It was decided that on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' birthday, every school in the country would display the flag (purchased through Youth's Companion, of course), and at a given time, two million schoolchildren all over the country would salute the flag in unison. This thing was big. 

But what about that salute? How should it be done? A simple military salute seemed less than satisfying. It was decided there should be some type of words to go along with it.

Three years earlier, a New York principal named Colonel Balch created a salute he taught to his kindergarten class, mostly children of immigrants. It was designed to be simple and aid in their assimilation. It went like this:

"We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country: one country, one language, one flag."

If this was what Americans said today when saluting the flag, I wouldn't be writing this article; I have no quarrel with it. In the Balch salute God comes first. Secondly, it expresses a sentiment without demanding the child engage in oathtaking.

But Francis Bellamy didn't like the Balch salute.  He wanted something that would condition the children toward a sense of nationalistic unity. You can't raise an army of nationalists unless you can get them to commit on an emotional level. For Bellamy, a simple salute wasn't going to cut it. He wanted the kids to swear a sacred oath. No matter that they wouldn't understand what they were swearing to; constant repetition would, over the years, endear the children's hearts to the State. Eventually Americans wouldn't even question what they were pledging to; they would just repeat it on demand.

Here is the pledge Francis Bellamy put together:

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

There was, of course, no mention of God in there.  That wouldn't come for another fifty years, a sop thrown to those Christian holdouts who were suspicious of the secular nature of the pledge.  When "under God" finally appeared in the pledge, it was as if someone had decided, "let's throw those crazy Christians a bone and see if that shuts 'em up."  It did.  Nary a peep of dissent was heard from religious leaders since, until recently when the possibility arose of that phrase being removed.  Religionists are easy to mollify.  Just give 'em something meaningless that sounds divine, and they'll buckle every time. 

The Bellamy Salute was delivered by the children with a straight-arm tribute pointing up toward the flag. By 1942 when it became apparent that the way our kids saluted the flag was exactly the same way the children of our enemies saluted theirs, Americans changed over to placing their hand on their heart as we do today.  Wouldn't want an obviously fascist ceremony to appear fascist now, would we?

Except for that part about the Nazi salute, the pledge seems pretty innocuous, right?

Well, there's nothing innocuous about any pledge, especially when you don't know what you're pledging to.

Whether you realize it or not, when you pledge allegiance to anything, you are swearing an irrevocable oath binding yourself as a slave to that thing forever. “Allegiance” is related to the word “liege.” In the middle ages a liege was a rope or a tether that was tied to a slave on one end and his master on the other. (If the word “Leash” comes to mind, that's no coincidence; “Liege” is middle french for our modern word “leash.”

You may recall old movies from the 1930's with Ronald Coleman or some other subject bowing and scraping his assent to the king, “Yes, my liege.” He was establishing the master-servant relationship. He had pledged his allegiance to the king.  According to common law, it is impossible to bear allegiance to more than one entity at a time.  There is truth to the scripture that says no man can serve two masters.

Ever wonder why you don't go around pledging allegiance to anyone else in your life?  You may love God, your spouse, or your children, but how often do you recite a pledge of allegiance to any of them?  There's only room in your life for one master, and you tethered yourself to that one back in grade school, Bucky. You've been giving the federal government first dibs on your life almost from the beginning.  What do you think that social security number means?

A pledge of allegiance to anyone or any thing is such a serious matter that only a fool or a child would enter into such an arrangement without thinking. That's why it's all the more insidious that we allow any pledge to be introduced to our children. Remember how seriously the people in the Book of Mormon took their oaths? Oath taking is not something that should be entered into by children.

Liberty And Justice For All?

So let's think about this. When we're pledging allegiance to the flag, we are pledging undying loyalty to something, but what? Certainly not a piece of cloth. It must be what that piece of cloth represents.

Is it America? That's kind of vague. What do we mean by “America?” Is it your friends, your family, your job? Is it the land? Or the people who live on the land? (Do you really want to declare yourself a slave to a bunch of people you don't even know?)

Oh, here it is: “and to the Republic for which it stands.” Okay, so you're pledging to be a slave to the Republic.

Except not one American in a thousand can even define what a Republic is. (Most Americans blithely believe we live in a democracy.) But let's settle on that. Let's assume you're pledging your personal allegiance to the Republic. Well, that creates a problem. If you are a slave to the Republic, you don't live in a Republic, since a Republic is a form of government where everyone is equal under the law.

So here's what I think the problem is with the pledge. Even though most Americans don't really think about what they are pledging to when they perform the pledge of allegiance to the flag, they are indeed participating in an emotional process that over time affects them at the core of their being.  Somehow they find themselves bound to that flag on a gut level, and they feel it.  The will follow that flag wherever it goes. Never mind the possibility -as the founders warned- that the government that was created to protect you could one day be hijacked from within. If that flag goes somewhere it shouldn't, as a symbol of empire conquering and engulfing other nations, your heart goes with it. Your love of the flag hampers your ability to critically assess whether your government's actions are proper or not.  Love the flag, love the empire. 

To paraphrase the words of Jesus, where your flag is, there will your heart be also.

I've run into people -good, faithful LDS people- who see nothing wrong with holding blind allegiance to the United States government. In fact, they insist it's doctrinal.

But as apostle J. Reuben Clark has affirmed, "God provided that in this land of liberty, our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired constitution which God himself set up."

Now, that's scriptural. In D&C 98, Jesus himself says “I the Lord justify you...in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; and as pertaining to law of man, anything more or less than this cometh of evil.” (Verses 6 and 7.)

Did you get that? Anything the government attempts that does not line up with the constitution cometh of evil. That's pretty clear.

Which brings us back to the $64,000 question: After all is said and done, isn't the pledge of allegiance just a harmless recitation? It's just a little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

Well, leaving aside the question of whether or not you believe in being your word, let me answer that question with this one: Is the primary song “Follow the Prophet” harmless? It's just some little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

We are now seeing a second generation of Mormons youth being raised on that pernicious false doctrine, a Luciferian teaching that not only can not be found anywhere in our scriptures, but is completely antithetical to all scripture and the words of  all the prophets prior to Wilford Woodruff, who blurted out that little fib one day when he found himself in a tight spot.  I'm certain he never expected the saints to be repeating his little white lie a hundred years later as gospel.

Do you feel that little primary song has done no harm to the church? Primary children grow up to be adults, believing that wisdom, knowledge, and salvation lie not in Christ, not in the scriptures, not in the Holy Ghost, but in hanging on every word of the president of the Church no matter what.

This false teaching that the prophet can never lead the church astray has been refuted over and over through the word of God, yet the teaching is so persistent that it was declared recently in a conference talk by a new general authority who hadn't gotten the memo. When such palpably false doctrine is delivered over the pulpit during general conference and no one refutes it for fear of giving offense, you know the Church is in trouble.

Harmless? Not by my reckoning.

The Pledge of Allegiance has been recited by American adults and children non-stop for the past 119 years. Consider the damage that has done to our country. We've raised generations of citizens who have no idea what the constitution is about, but who believe loyalty to government is their highest civic duty. They are taught that nothing can go wrong because the government has three branches constantly performing checks and balances on itself. 

When the bankers who hijacked our government tell these dumbed-down Americans that the country will crash and burn if they don't immediately agree to fork over their taxes to pay for the banker's bonuses, these Americans dutifully fall into line and pay up. When rogue presidents send the American flag into foreign countries to conquer, kill, and occupy, these American's hearts follow that flag and swell with pride for “all the good America is accomplishing overseas.”

Some of these people will actually sacrifice their own children to the State, placing them in a uniform where they are shoved into harm's way, proud of the fact that their child may die to defend the freedom of Americans at home. (But ask them to explain exactly how their child's death or disfigurement contributed to the defense of freedom in America, and all you'll get are blank stares.)

Slow, gradual conditioning is amazingly pernicious. The fact that some people reading this will be offended that I have challenged their precious pledge is itself a witness to how deeply ingrained that conditioning is. Francis Bellamy understood the scripture that says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.”

Conversely, Bellamy knew that if you train up a child in the way you want him to go, when he is older he will not depart from that, either.

The pledge of allegiance is anything but harmless. It creates a pavlovian response that has resulted over and over in a mindset that rejects critical thinking and defers to the government position in all matters.

It was this mindset that compelled Gordon B. Hinkley, on the eve of America's invasion of Iraq, to declare that “as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.”

So here we have The Mouthpiece Of The Lord telling us that he doesn't have any message for us from the almighty at the moment, but we should defer to the politicians.

It is now well known that those national leaders our prophet declared the people “under the direction of” deliberately lied to the nation about the causes and need for war. And yet the wars continue and increase, and few people since have asked these two simple questions:

1.  How is it that the Prophet of God could not see through the clear deceptions being foisted upon him by deceitful politicians,

and,

2.  In advising us to defer to our national leaders instead of upon the word of God (such as D&C 98:33 where the Lord strictly prohibits his people from going to battle in foreign lands), and subsequently learning that those leaders deceived us; is it not apparent that the prophet has led the members of the Church astray?
How about when he incorrectly declared that “those in the armed services are under obligation to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound.”

Did Gordon Hinckley really need to be reminded that in this nation, The People are sovereign, and not the president? Polls taken at the time showed an overwhelming majority of the people opposed the unprovoked attack on the Iraqi people, yet when congress refused to issue a declaration of war as required by the constitution, the president declared himself the new sovereign (“I'm the decider!”) and executed the war himself in direct defiance of God's decree that anything more or less than that which is permitted by the constitution cometh of evil.

Further, the Prophet of God directly deceived latter-day Saints serving in the military when he insisted that they are duty bound to follow the orders of their superiors no matter what. No soldier has any obligation to follow unconstitutional directives. Absolutely none. President Bush, and now President Obama have converted the American presidency into an empirical post. They deceive the people, and the Presidents of the Church lead the people astray by going along with that deception.

Why is it, I wonder, that ancient prophets like Nathan, Abinadi, and Captain Moroni were known for boldly calling civil leaders to repentance, while the prophets today appear to enjoy hob-knobbing with the powerful on the public stage?













But I digress.

Just Opt Out

I've talked to people who would love to not participate when the pledge of allegiance is taking place, but are afraid, or just don't know how. 

If you were to attend Catholic Mass with a friend, you would not feel any obligation to genuflect and cross yourself while there. This is someone else's religious ceremony, so you remain where you are and smile politely.  You don't have to take part, and you don't have to make a scene.

It's the same with the pledge. Because I respect other people's religious beliefs no matter how odd they may seem, when the pledge is announced I stand politely with my arms to my side, saying nothing. That's all there is to it. I don't rant and rail about the impropriety of it all, because after all, I was once a devout believer in the State religion myself. People don't take kindly to being confronted about their religious beliefs, and believe me, Flag Worship is a pagan religion.

You'll rarely come across people more attached to a religious ceremony than some people are to the pledge. It's more precious to them than their baptism.  Decades of placing the hand over the heart and swearing undying love for an inanimate object is going to result in deeply ingrained emotions toward that object.  So cut these people some slack.  Remember that not long ago you were just like them.

I love our national anthem, along with all the other hymns to America. They celebrate the country, the land, and the people. If I get the chance to sing any of those songs this weekend I'll be belting them out at the top of my voice (I still have the range to sing the national anthem, I'm proud to say.) 

Just don't expect to see me with the rest of the apostates in promising fealty to a false god. To mash a quote from both Patrick Henry and the prophet Joshua, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

                                                                 *****
For two more excellent and insightful pieces on the Pledge from a Mormon point of view, see here:

"Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance To The Flag," by Connor Boyack

"Misguided Patriotism," by Riley Drey
 
UPDATE: Alert Reader Lee provides this link to a YouTube video that I found apropo: