Rant time: The Pledge of Allegiance

Rant time is going to be a semi-regular series of articles where I, or other writers on the site, rant about things. These may or may not have anything to do with guns.

The older I get, the weirder I think the Pledge of Allegiance is. Even if you toss out the historical weirdness associated with it, like the Bellamy Salute (pictured) or the fact that the guy who originally wrote it was an absolute whackadoodle, the whole thing just feels weird when you really think about it. Of course, you can’t actually disregard its origins, but I’ll get to that in a minute.


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. It seems rather innocuous, but then I start to think about it, and my brain says “wait, what did you just say?” I think it’s because it’s because of what I’m pledging allegiance to, the flag. That’s…just a symbol. A flag itself has no meaning without the ideals or principles of the nation it represents. Yes, I get that the next line is “and to the Republic for which it stands” but for some reason that feels tacked on and meaningless.

It also bothers me that there’s no action required to pledge allegiance other than “I pledge allegiance.” Whoopeedoo! It’s the most shallow form of patriotism possible because it requires nothing. Let’s compare the Pledge to two other pledges, or in this case, oaths. First, the Oath of Allegiance taken by naturalized US citizens:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

I like that much better, because it requires action on the part of the oath taker. It clearly communicates that with citizenship comes duty and responsibility that is not to be shirked or taken lightly. Similarly, the US Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment:

“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Obviously, there is a higher level of duty than just citizenship communicated in the Oath of Enlistment, because you have the lines about obeying orders in there. But the meat, the meat is the same: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That is the important distinction between the Pledge and something more meaningful. I have no problem with the Pledge in theory, it’s nice little meaningless bit of shallow patriotism. But that’s all it is, because at the end of the day, you’re just saying that “I totally like this symbol of America and I’m not really committing to anything here other than liking it.” The oaths of citizenship and enlistment on the other hand, have you swearing to defend the document, the real, actual document that is the foundation of America itself. Because make no mistake: there is no United States of America without the Constitution.

This concludes rant-time, please direct your hate mail to [email protected]


  1. Have you been reading my Facebook posts? Because this is basically how I feel about the Pledge. Kids should read the poem “The Defense of Fort M’Henry in class every morning if they want to do a patriotic observance.

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
    A home and a country, should leave us no more?
    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Now that would be epic.

  2. wow so regular click bait and troll feeding. awesome. i will go get my popcorn. joking aside you always have an interesting and well thought out viewpoint whether i agree with it or not and i enjoy reading. keep up the good work.

    1. Honestly, I wouldn’t character this as clickbait or trolling; more “I have this thought that I want to suss out on paper.”

  3. The pledge is to “the republic for which it stands”, Declaration Of Independence, Constitution, Bill Of Rights. I understand why Nazis, Communists and New World Order, open border Libertopians would have a problem with that. I don’t.

    1. Bear in mind that the guy who wrote the pledge was a whackadoodle socialist, to me it reads as primarily swearing to a symbol with no action required. Socialists are all about symbolic actions that don’t require them to do anything.

      Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

  4. January 4th 1981 I swore an oath of allegiance, to the constitution….I stand by that to this day….I am a gun lawful gun owner, and veteran.

  5. I have to agree with Robbie. To a patriot, it is a pledge of allegiance to the ideals of America, the constitution, the self evident truths of the declaration. The only time I get to say it is at gun club meetings. At a time when we are in danger of losing our country, it seems especially meaningful to me.

  6. Let’s just go with the Possum Lodge Men’s Club prayer. It’s about as meaningful.

    I’m a man, but I can change. If I have to. I guess.

  7. So let me see; if you were not an immigrant that became a citizen, or an enlistee or draftee, then you take no oath and have no allegiance, right? The Pledge Of Allegiance is for those who are not immigrants becoming citizens and before you become of age to enlist or be drafted (when it’s legal).

  8. I’m with Caleb on this one, except more extreme. Francis Bellamy was a radical socialist minister who was run out of town by his own congregation for espousing and promulgating Marxism from the pulpit. The Pledge was written and promoted as an advertising campaign for the National Education Society, and used to indoctrinate public school children in obedience to the state. Bellamy’s famous cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 novel “Looking Backward,” reveals his vision of a future United States as a worker’s utopia in which all workers earn equal incomes, regardless their vocation, and at age 21, all men are conscripted into the nation’s workers army, which required state ownership of all property and means of production, with the government assigning jobs according to its needs. Sound familiar?

    The Pledge is socialist to the core, and that fact can NOT be overlooked. As Christian, a Southerner, an American, and a Marine, I refuse to cite an anti-American socialist propaganda slogan.

  9. “But that’s all it is, because at the end of the day, you’re just saying…”
    Regardless of what it is you are saying, you are always just saying it if you don’t mean it. You can have kids saying whatever you want but as long as you are making them say something it will always be meaningless.
    A kid uttering the pledge is just as hollow as a citizen or soldier who swears an oath but doesn’t mean it.
    In the end those are just words. They don’t dictate how you will act.

  10. Its simplicity is for kids. Why burden young minds with more complex demands of patriotism?

  11. Because basic biology tells us those kids have a tendency to grow up, at which point they’re kinda in charge until they’re kids grow up (and the last set of kids dies off).

  12. My standard approach at this point is to post the passage about loyalty oaths from *Catch-22.*

  13. The Oath only works when you have non-corrupt govt leaders.

    I swore my allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and it’s inherent guiding principles, not to the President, Congress, or other fallible men perverting it’s intent.

  14. This is a subject I have pondered myself for several years though my issue with it is different than those you mention. My thought was always , Is your allegiance so pitiful that you must pledge it five days a week, give or take, for approximately 6-8 years? I would think under normal circumstances, one would pledge such an oath once, maybe twice in a lifetime and treat it as something to respect and dignify.

  15. An interesting take by Prof. Dutch: “Flag Pins and American Decline” (https://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/Flag%20Pins.HTM).

    “But the thing that strikes me about all these patriotic symbols is how late they came in American history. Somehow we survived the winter at Valley Forge, went to Tripoli, sailed Old Ironsides into battle, sent Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, expanded our borders to the Pacific, rode the Pony Express, built a telegraph line and a transcontinental railroad, fought at Bull Run, Antietam, Vicksburg and Gettysburg, and the Little Big Horn, and we somehow did it without having an official national anthem, an official national motto, a flag etiquette code, or a pledge of allegiance, with or without God in it. “

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