Thursday, July 06, 2006

To salute or not to salute?

Similar to my previous post is the question for clergy as to whether they ought to salute the flag during the singing of the national anthem or during the saying of the pledge of allegiance. I can see both arguments.

One would say that clergymen should model good citizenship and salute. They would point to St Paul's advice on being good citizens and back that up with the compatibility between our religious and national allegiances. They might also point out that in some cases (such as priests of the Church of England) the clergy function as officers of both the church and the state.

Another group would argue against it. They would point out that Christian citizenship is primarily in heaven, and it is this heavenly citizenship that the clergy are supposed to image for us. As a foreigner would not salute or pledge allegiance to a flag that is not his own, neither should the clergyman. In addition, the priest is ordained for the whole church, not for a particular locality. As a catholic ("according to the whole") priest, he should stand above national allegiance rather than under it. The clergy should show us above all that Christianity is universal and thus respectfully not salute.

As I said, I can see both sides. Any thoughts?


Father Lee Nelson, SSC said...

Being a good citizen consists in being full of virtue, obedience to civil law, and contribution to the society as a whole, not in saluting the symbols of the society.

Your argument about a priest being ordained for the whole church is fitting as well.

I would say that one of the defects in American Christianity is its overdependence upon the State to provide an ecclesiology that is otherwise lacking.

Anonymous said...

I thought that onlythe military saluted and all others put our hands over our hearts.

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

That's the salute to which I refer.