Why I don't stand for the national anthem

posted on 2012-05-07

Daniel 3 tells the story of 3 Jews who refused to worship a statue that King Nebuchadnezer built to symbolize his and Babylon’s power. Verses 9-12 read:

Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.

The rest of the chapter describes how these 3 Jews are thrown into a blazing fire for their insolence, but God saves them.

When I read this chapter, I can’t help but think there is a parallel here between the statue of gold and the American flag. In the latter case, whenever the national anthem gets played I am expected to stand, place my hand over my heart, and venerate the flag. Of course, I won’t be burned alive if I refuse. But most Americans still get upset when they see me not doing these things.

Personally, the American flag used to be a huge idol in my life. This story is one of the Biblical passages that helped me realize that.