Mt Soledad
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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Flag Desecration?”

I was a teenager in the 1960’s.  I remember seeing activists burning the American flag to protest the Vietnam war.  I remember how offended I was then, and I’m still offended by those that use this tactic to make a political statement.  It epitomizes what was bad from that era – open lack of respect for authority, playing to sensitized emotions, and an utter disregard for what many view the flag symbolizing  – the sacrifice of lives to preserve our liberties and freedoms.

Recent Congressional interest in a Constitutional Amendment relating to flag desecration made me rethink this issue beyond just the emotional level.  Some of my conclusions may not be popular, but my intent is to approach this subject from at least one Christian perspective.

Let me start by saying I understand and share the indignation we feel when such callous dishonor is shown to something representing what we hold dear.  I’m very thankful to live in this nation and am grateful for the amazing blessings the Lord has given us to be able to freely worship, minister, evangelize and use our abundant prosperity to benefit the world.  But I also see how our national leaders have perverted the use of their power and the rule of law to destroy the moral foundation of this country.  It’s hard to maintain a high level of respect for our government when the Supreme Court says a mother can kill her infant child at any time before it’s born, that tax money can fund sacrilegious art demeaning our faith, that sexual perversion and depravity are legitimate activities to be celebrated and promoted, and that marriage can be defined as meaningless.  When rogue judges destroy what we hold dear and are not reined in because many legislators are too weak to stand for morality and condemn evil, it’s hard to support the “government” protecting the premier symbol of itself through hate crime legislation.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow protection of the flag attempts to prohibit physical “desecration”, implying the flag is something sacred and deserving of reverence.  I realize “desecration” is being used in a broad sense, however, to me this label has profound spiritual implications.  Ask yourself, what is our government’s track record concerning the treatment of our faith and spiritual matters?  Can we pray openly in government schools, or mention the name of Jesus Christ during “invocations” or speeches in any government setting?  Are the Ten Commandments welcome in our courts, is our national Christian heritage accurately presented in textbooks?  Right now, any symbol relating to Christianity can be legally dishonored in the name of freedom of expression, Christ’s name can be blasphemed with impunity, and followers of Christ can be equated with terrorists, but touch the flag improperly and you may go to jail!

This Amendment would raise a secular symbol of an entire nation to a modern form of an idol, with the government behind it hostile to our faith.  It’s one more step in replacing Almighty God with government as the highest authority in the land.  Government is not my lord, Jesus Christ is.  But please don’t misunderstand me, I’m patriotic, I’m not indifferent to the incredible sacrifices so many have made for our nation and our freedoms, and I’m not insensitive to my own strong emotions when our National Anthem is played or our higher aspirations as a nation are captured in a moving speech.  I honor those that serve our nation, I hold precious our freedoms, but I question elevating our nation’s flag to a level of reverence above anything our government will tolerate that represents my faith.  Like so many, I’m disgusted with the actions of those that dishonor the flag – whether by burning or disfiguring in order to offend as many people as possible.  It’s just a coarse, immature action to provoke people who otherwise are incapable of expressing clarity of thought.  Laws protecting the flag, however, will do nothing to correct the profound sins of our nation or instill respect in those who have no understanding of moral values or self-control. 

I realize this is an emotional subject in an election year.  The flag grabs people’s attention, whether they consider the United States the greatest country in the world or the most despotic (for the record I support the former statement).  Is there some advantage to this Amendment?  I believe there is, but only if it demonstrates there are limits to what is tolerated, and that something exists that should be honored, respected, and treated with dignity.  If this is what it takes to begin the long road back to restoring respect for our religious freedoms, correcting national sins, and government once more acknowledging our total dependence upon an Almighty God – so be it.  As Christians, and as citizens, we have freedom to decide for ourselves whether a Constitutional amendment is a valid means of limiting political expression.  However, to enshrine this emblem as the most significant symbol in this nation while a cross, such as the one on Mt. Soledad is constantly under vicious attack, is something I have a hard time with.

- Frank Kacer

First published as a Guest Commentary in the August 2006 issue of Good News Etc.