I do not “salute” the flag or say the “Pledge of Allegiance”. I do not treat the flag of the United States as a sacred object, just as I do not hold any other symbol as a holy object. I like hearing the national anthem being played or sung but it bothers me that when the crowd hears it and they come to a halt and face the flag, hats in hand. It gives me the creeps and reminds me of some kind of alien mind control movie. It happened recently at a sporting event, not in stands of corralled people but in a wide open space of a thousand people milling about through vendors and camps. The music started and everyone dropped what they were doing and commenced the ritual. If it had been a Christian ritual or Muslim call to prayer, people would have lost their minds. But this one, in this religion of state worship, the flag is a holy symbol and we must all respect it under penalty of violence. I will not. I worship only the Lord Himself. When we come across this ritual, we respectfully stand with others. Personally, I spend that time in prayer for peace on earth, to stop the wars, for the Lord to help me show compassion and love for those around me even those my country would consider enemies.