Let’s get something straight. The American flag is a symbol. Nothing more, nothing less. Whether one chooses to participate in saluting the flag during the national anthem or not, doesn’t make one more or less American and really has nothing to do with patriotism. Playing the national anthem at the beginning of sporting events has nothing to do with patriotism. The demand and expectation that everyone, players and spectators alike, should participate is peer pressure and in no way a measure of ones patriotism.

The flag is supposed to represent a great nation, only our nation isn’t great; not anymore. This country was founded on a basis of freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. And civil liberties which we used to take for granted but are now threatened at every turn. This is not the country the founding fathers hoped it would be. Yes, in many ways it is better than what we started with, but in so many more ways it is SO. MUCH. WORSE.

Choosing, in a very public forum, NOT to salute the flag or stand for the anthem, is, in fact, a VERY American thing to do. It exercises your freedom of speech, your freedom to choose your own actions, and your freedom to criticize what has become a very corrupt and anti-freedom, dare I say anti-American, government.

From my very youngest days in elementary school, when we started each day in “assembly” and as an entire school, together, sung the national anthem while saluting the flag, I couldn’t understand why we were forced to do this. I remember standing silently, with my hands at my side, because I believed it was wrong. And I remember getting in trouble for it, being ordered by the nearest teacher to put my hand over my heart and recite the words.

Refusing to participate also exercises your freedom of religion. Yes, even that!

You see when I was a young kid unwilling to be coerced into something in which I did not believe, I was aware, even then, that there was a problem. The Bible, in which you have the good fortune to choose whether or not to believe, clearly states in Exodus 20:3-5 “Thou shalt put no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I am the Lord thy God.”

Even as a young child, I could see that mandating a pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America was tantamount to worshiping an idol, a false god.

As an adult, I refuse, unilaterally, to salute the flag, to recite the pledge of allegiance or to acknowledge the National Anthem as anything more than a ritualistic song sung before many events (usually badly) that is deserving of no particular deference. This doesn’t make me unAmerican. It doesn’t make me less patriotic. It doesn’t matter at all.

This country is in trouble. Serious trouble. Overpaid athletes choosing to publicly protest the demands for a show of “patriotism” (I would argue they may be the most patriotic people in the stadiums) and cow-tow to an orange faced, hate mongering, violence inciting lame duck “president” are THE LEAST of our problems.