But Peter and the apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts 5:29, NLT.
As you may know, there is a discussion going on in our nation about Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and his decision to sit during the National Anthem before his team plays a game. I decided to share my perspective today about this controversial issue by answering some of the questions others may be asking. My perspective this month is a bit longer than usual, but I hope you’ll find it worth reading.
Are American citizens required to stand during the National Anthem?
Title 36, (section 171) of the United States Code outlines the role of Patriotic Societies and Observances in the United State. It reads as follows:
“During a rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed,
individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note. Members of the
Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform. All
other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. When the flag is not
displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.”
Is there a penalty for not standing during the National Anthem?
According to an article by Debbie Lord: Is Colin Kaepernick breaking the law by not standing for the National Anthem?, Section 171 does not specify nor impose penalties for violating the section of the code.” The
Flag Code serves as a guide, and it is followed on a voluntary basis. You won’t be forced to stand for the National Anthem, nor hauled off to jail if you don’t.”
What did Colin say his reasons were for not standing for the National anthem?
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
“People don’t realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”
What does the Bible have to say about Colin’s decision not to stand for the National Anthem?
Romans 12:1 tells us to “Obey the Government (or authority), for God is the one who put it there.” However, for conscience or religious reasons, there are examples of men in the Bible who chose to disobey the laws of their land. For example, when Peter and John were told by the Sanhedrin council to stop preaching the gospel, they replied; “We have to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). When King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold idol and required all the people in his kingdom to bow down and worship it, three Hebrew boys – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow (Daniel 3:3-12). Although Daniel, another Hebrew boy, knew about the law implemented in Babylon against praying to anyone except King Darius, he continued to pray to his God three times a day (Daniel 6:6-10).
How do the examples from the Bible apply to Colin’s choice to sit during the National Anthem?
When an individual chooses not to obey the laws of the land for moral or religious reasons, there are consequences that may come with their decision. Peter and John were flogged because of their decision; Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and the three Hebrew boys were thrown into a fiery furnace. Although Colin will not be jailed for sitting during the National Anthem since he is not breaking any law, he understands there may be other consequences that may come from his decision. For example, when asked by one reporter if he might be cut from his team for not standing during the Anthem, he replied: ” “I don’t know. But if I do, I know I did what’s right. And I can live with that at the end of the day.”
How does Colin’s decision not to stand apply to other Americans?
In the words of one football fan: “I told him I appreciate what he is standing up for. Most of the people I talk to say the same thing. I don’t like that he is sitting during the national anthem, but I appreciate what he is standing for.”
Whether you agree or disagree as an American about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the National Anthem, it is my hope we can all come to an appreciation of what he is standing for.
Sharing my perspective,
Jeanine Stokes is a Christian author, educator and bible-teacher whose mission is to write to inspire and equip others to live a life of faith in every aspect of their lives. To learn more about her ministry, visit her at: www.jstokeswritingministries.com