Today the Reverend Bryan Fischer sent out a contemptuous press release questioning the patriotism of reporters covering the Idaho Legislature. The question centered around, what the Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert noted as the kerfuffle over whether reporters should be required to verbally recite the Pledge of Allegiance with House members when on the floor, as Speaker Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale) had suggested in a letter to the press.
“The essential question here is, ‘Do these members of the media have any kind of loyalty to the United States?’ If they do, then why won’t they say so? And if they don’t, why should we trust anything they write?"
This is an unfair attempt by Fischer to cast aspersions on these reporters and their credibility. There are many reasons for someone to decline to recite the pledge, one of which I learned, like many others, as a small child. Being a man of the cloth with a graduate degree in theology, it would seem to be one with which Fischer should be intimately familiar.
In the very small, predominantly Mormon area where I attended school, there was a family of devout Jehovah's Witnesses. They had several school-age kids with one boy in my class. As first graders, we knew nothing about his religion and found it very strange when this boy declined to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of the class.
Each day, as we rose to say the pledge, this small boy remained uncomfortably in his seat, his fair-complected face turning a few shades darker than his red hair from the embarrassment of being different. After it was explained that in his religion, members could actually be disfellowshipped for doing so, as kids usually do, we eventually just got used to it. It wasn't a big deal.
As a theologian, Fischer has studied other religions and knows, or should know, the tenets of this religion. Maybe every reporter who declines to say the pledge on the floor of the Idaho House isn't doing so for religious reasons but they are under no obligation to disclose that to anyone. Each has reasons which none of us are qualified to judge, another principle with which Mr. Fischer should be intimately familiar. After all, the words, "judge not, that ye be not judged," come from the book he often quotes literally and reveres as infallible.
Thankfully the U.S. does not employ religious tests or loyalty oaths for citizens and Fischer is either ignorant or being disingenuous and deceptive by disparaging the intentions of those who merely assert their rights.