Does the Pledge join church and state?
In the 1559 Institutes, Calvin seems to lean both right and left concerning church and state. On the one hand, he proclaims civil and spiritual government to be joined (4.20.1), he calls magistrates "vicars of God" (4.20.6), and says, "it is fitting that they [magistrates] should labor to protect and assert the honor of him [God] whose representatives they are, and by whose grace they govern (4.20.9).
On the other hand, Calvin writes that civil government is to protect religion, but not establish it (4.20.3), and freedom is quite high on the list of becoming attributes (4.20.8).
The original Pledge, wrote in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, did not contain the words 'under God.' Congress, under President Eisenhower, added the words in 1954, at which time the country was under a (some thought 'godless') communist threat.
There are some who believe that the Pledge does indeed wed church and state, something the First Amendment was put in place to avoid. There are some who believe that 'under God' is not really a religious statement. What do you think?
Does the Pledge promote allegiance to country over allegiance to God?
Although Calvin has sections in the Institutes devoted to deference and obedience to even wicked rulers (4.20.22-30), in the last section Calvin explains the exception - that Christians must never let obedience to rulers lead us away from obedience to God (4.20.32). Peter upholds this view at the Jerusalem Council, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." (Acts 5:29)
There are some who believe that pledging allegiance to the country that protects us is the least we can do. There are some who believe that standing with our hand over our heart and reciting the Pledge is akin to an act of worship not directed toward God. What do you think?
With the challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance coming closer and closer together (see history), I wonder if continuing to defend the Pledge will come dangerously close to using religion as a cudgel, instead of an embrace. To what length should we be willing to go to "reconcile us with one another, and to promote general peace and tranquility," two of Calvin's appointed ends of civil government (4.20.2)?