Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Pledge Allegiance to (Fill in the Blank)

Update:  At this point the flag ban has been lifted, however, the ACLU has already threatened to sue if the school board decides only to allow the US flag to be worn.  Predictably, the ACLU is on the wrong side of the issue.  The school should be able to ban foreign flags because of the street gang problems that the school faces.  I hope that they choose to stand and fight this one.

We live in such a litigious society that people have become more concerned about the unspoken rules of political correctness than they are about truth and personal integrity. Imagine, if you can, being asked to refrain from a simple expression of patriotism in order to avoid offending anyone.  This is, in a sense, what Jessica Langston was required to do by her school:  

SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. – On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.

Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.

The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.

Gayle Langston said her daughter, Jessica, was told to remove her Stars and Stripes t-shirt.

“Today she wanted to wear her shirt, and I had to tell her no,” said Langston. “She didn't like it at all because I knew it would get her in trouble. Of all days, 9/11, she could not wear her American Flag shirt.”

The superintendent of schools in Sampson County calls the situation unfortunate, but says educators didn’t want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.

Those who know me understand that I am very cynical about Christians who make American patriotism more important than the Gospel itself.  Frankly, I believe that many in our land today have blasphemously exalted American nationalism above their heavenly citizenship - and this is a serious mistake and derogation of the Gospel itself.  However, make no mistake - I am extremely thankful for God's providence in establishing this nation.  As well, I am extremely thankful for our freedoms, and for those who have laid down their lives in order to preserve those freedoms.  I am a veteran; I am a citizen; I am an American patriot, and...

I want to know what is going on in Sampson County, NC. 

In fact I called the school (Hobbton High School) and the Sampson Superintendent's office in order to give them a chance to tell their own story.  In short, I received no assistance from Hobbton High.  After two calls they have refused to give any statement concerning their official clothing policy.  As well, the Superintendent's office had only this to say:

"We have had a disruption in schools caused by the wearing of certain flags by some of our students.  We are in the process of consulting with our legal council in order to address the issue that has been presented."

There has been a "disruption" caused by the wearing of various flags.  Solution: ban the wearing of all flags, including the American flag, because they don't "want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible."  If this isn't political correctness and civil relativism, then I don't know what is. 

With this in mind, I have a little message for the Sampson County School District: 

Last year the NC senate passed a bill that requires public schools to "adopt policies that require the display of the United States and North Carolina flags, when available, in each classroom and adopt policies that require the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance."  [S.L. 2006-137].

S.L. 2006-137 also requires that schools "provide age‑appropriate instruction on the meaning and historical origins of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance."

In other words - schools are required by law to teach and foster American patriotism, as represented by our flag and national pledge.

BUT - you don't "want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible."  

Let me then remind you of our nation's pledge:  "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."

We are one nation - identified by one flag and established by the one and only God who made this nation for His own sovereign purposes. 

In brief - no one is asking YOU to choose "which flag is permissible."  As a public school district in North Carolina and in this nation - that decision has already been made.

The Sampson County School District would do well to read and apply S.L. 2006-137.  While I realize that the bill does not address dress codes - it does however emphasize the broader discussion about fostering and encouraging patriotism within our schools - public schools that we pay for with our taxes (yes, even homeschoolers like ourselves who have to pay taxes anyway).  My exhortation to the superintendent is this:  Instead of relativizing our nation's education, why not set an example to our youth by upholding our state's law which calls on schools to teach our children about the "meaning and historical origins of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance" and thus encourage patriotism.  This is far better than having such students hiding their patriotism because of your legal fears. 

Remind them that our flag represents a vast sacrifice - a sacrifice of hard work, sweat, and blood.  Remind them that the privileges which they now enjoy came by a vast cost to many who lived and died before them. 

No, America isn't a perfect nation, and it in no way compares with the glory that is to be revealed (Rom. 8:18).  But it is the nation that God has ordained and has given to us who reside here as its citizens.  It is therefore appropriate that we show some respect and gratitude for what He has so graciously provided.