Well, football season (gridiron for all you Commwealth-types) will be here soon and Yours Truly plans to attend a few games. I'll also be going to quite a few basketball games when that season starts in November. In the U.S., the national anthem is played before the start of such events. I think it is a stupid, unnecessary, and ridiculous exercise because the crowd has assembled to watch an athletic contest and not take part in a political event, but it is the custom nevertheless. When the colors are presented and the anthem is played, the crowd is asked to "rise and honor America". Most people do so and sing the anthem when the music is played.
When I was a Witness, I always made sure I wasn't in my seat when the flag and anthem were presented. I'd go to the restroom or visit a concession stand. Now my Witness days are behind me and I have been thinking about what to do when I am in this situation again. I have decided that I will rise out of respect when asked to do so. I can understand the reason for this request. My father served honorably for 20 years in the U.S. Army. I appreciated his service to the country which included tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, and the service of all the men and women in the armed forces. However, I will not salute any nation's flag or sing its anthem. I draw the line there. For me, my first loyalty is to God's kingdom. Furthermore, I firmly believe that nationalism, patriotism, and Christianity do not make a good mix.
Those views arise from my years as a Witness, but this is one of the few points I still agree with them about. Of course, Witnesses are also told that standing for the presentation of the colors and the playing of the anthem is an act of idolatry. I strongly disagree with them on that. What is the difference between standing for the flag and playing of a national anthem and standing in a courtroom when a judge enters and takes his or her seat on the bench? In both cases, an individual is asked to show honor and respect to the nation, its emblems and anthem, and its officers. My conscience is clear in that respect. Furthermore, I think this is in line with Paul's inspired words at Romans 13:7.
I'd be interested in the views of others on this issue. I expect that there will be a diversity of opinions which I welcome. I hope that we can have a good exchange of views, and I look forward to everyone's comments.