I have heard that Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (to the United States flag) or even to salute it.

What is the basis for this prohibition? I'm wondering what is so wrong to have a secondary allegiance to one's country, after one's allegiance to God.

  • I think the verses where christ says to not sware or make oaths. Instead, be honorable and simply let your yeses be yes and your nos be no. A pledge of allegiance is an oath. – fгedsbend May 30 '13 at 15:25
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    Jesus also stated that his followers would be "no part of this world". Pledging allegiance to the flag (or the country) would certainly not be living up to that. – user4662 Jun 5 '13 at 19:26

Q. Why do Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to pledge allegiance or salute the flag?

A. The answer is found in the very definition of what the words "pledge" and "allegiance" mean and on what God's word the Bible states / shows to Whom we are to pledge our allegiance.

noun \ˈplej\

  1. a serious promise or agreement
  2. a promise to give money
  3. something that you leave with another person as a way to show that you will keep your promise

~ Above definition taken directly from Merriam Webster online dictionary.

noun \ə-ˈlē-jən(t)s\

    1. the obligation of a feudal vassal to his liege lord
    2. (1) : the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government
      (2) : the obligation of an alien to the government under which the alien resides
  1. devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause"

~ Above definition taken directly from Merriam Webster online dictionary.

“You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. 5 You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting EXCLUSIVE devotion"
~ Exodus 20:4, 5

So he brought him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; 6 and the Devil said to him: “I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. 7 You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.” 8 In reply Jesus said to him: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”
~ Luke 4:5-8

Therefore, we who are members of the worldwide unified Christian congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses will ONLY pledge our allegiance to the One who as the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth exacts EXCLUSIVE devotion / allegiance... JEHOVAH God (the Heavenly Father of Jesus Christ).

If we had an official pledge it would probably be recited in the following way:

I pledge allegiance to JEHOVAH GOD, the Almighty Creator and Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth. And to His Kingdom of which Christ stands, holiness under God indivisible with righteousness and justice for all.

Furthermore, on the subject of allegiance to one's country, Jehovah directed ancient Israel to use warfare to take possession of the land that He himself as the Sovereign Lord of the universe designated as their inheritance and to execute people whose depraved practices and defiance of the true God caused Jehovah to view them as being no longer fit to receive His gift of life and continue to live. (Deut. 7:1, 25; 9:5; Lev. 18:2425) Nevertheless, mercy was shown to Rahab and to the Gibeonites (who were not Jehovah's Witnesses / members of the nation of Israel) because they demonstrated faith in Jehovah. (Josh. 2:9-13; 9:24-27)

In the Law covenant given through Moses, God laid down very specific rules for warfare that He Himself would approve, stipulating exemptions and the manner in which this warfare was to be carried out. Such were truly HOLY WARS OF JEHOVAH. That IS NOT true of the carnal warfare of ANY nation (including the United States of America) today.

With the establishing of the 1st century Christian congregation, a NEW situation came into existence. True Christians ARE NOT under the Mosaic Law. Christ’s followers were to make disciples of people of all nations; so worshipers of the true God would in time be found in all those nations. However, what is the motive of those nations when they go to war? Is it to carry out the will of the Creator of all the earth or is it to further some nationalistic interest?

We all know the answer.

If true Christians in one nation were to go to war against another nation, they would be fighting against fellow believers, against people who prayed for help to the same God that they did. Such an action as that is utterly unacceptable and chaotic, being that true Christians are in fact part of the same worldwide spiritual family.

Appropriately, Christ directed his true followers to lay down the sword at Matt. 26:52. He himself, glorified in the heavens, would henceforth carry out the execution of those who showed defiance of the true God and His will as recorded at —2 Thess. 1:6-8 and Rev. 19:11-21.

  • This whole comment trail is off the rails. I'm purging it. @Narnian, you asked the question, this is an expert answer, your responses make the question look less than honest. – wax eagle Oct 3 '13 at 18:23
  • Apologies to you if you feel "condescended", however, I'm purely making statements of TRUTH (which some people can't handle). It was Jesus himself that stated that only FEW people FIND the road to eternal life as opposed to the overwhelming vast majority of people on the broad and spacious road who indeed acknowledge him as their Lord but FAIL to do the will of his heavenly Father... So yes, I for one enjoy being in the "small amount" as compared with the vast majority (Matthew 7:21, 22). The answer I gave is sufficient and has scriptural answers that can be readily researched. :-) – Myro0708 Oct 3 '13 at 18:28
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    Thanks for the answer. We're desperately in need of rational original writing from a JW perspective. One thing I'd ask is that you try to moderate your tone and rhetoric just a bit. I think all of us would like to learn a bit more comprehensively what you guys believe, but I'll note that we're here in a primarily academic setting. The goal here isn't proselytism, it's to teach and learn. – wax eagle Oct 3 '13 at 18:46
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    Thank you "wax eagle". I agree with you that the goal here should be to teach as opposed to "proselytism". However, there is a big difference between "facts" vs "truth". I am extremely passionate for Truth (not so much "facts" or "religion"). Consequently you may be surprised to find out that based on Jesus words at Mark 9:38-41 and Revelation 18:4 I don't believe that ONLY Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved. :-) – Myro0708 Oct 3 '13 at 19:56

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that bowing down to a flag, saluting it or pledging allegiance to it, is equivalent to worshiping the flag, the nation it represents, or even the nation's leaders. Our sole devotion and allegiance should be to God. A scriptural account that provides a principle to follow is found in Daniel chapter 3.

Also, the scriptures show that God no longer favors one nation over another. Acts 10:34: "God is not partial." So his servants should share that view, rather than the commonly held views of nationalism and patriotism that imply that one's nation is superior to others.

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    Thanks, but when does anyone ever bow down to the flag? – Narnian Jun 3 '13 at 11:39
  • @Narnian Bowing before sacred objects such as a flag is a more common practice in Asian cultures. – 4castle Jun 21 '17 at 2:44

I think it is important especially in 2017 with all the controversy surrounding those who are refusing to participate for political reasons to make clear why our reasons for not participating in the pledge of allegiance etc are different:

In a brochure designed for educators of our children we find:

Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught not to discourage others from saluting the flag; that is for each individual to decide. The position of the Witnesses themselves, however, is firm: They do not salute the flag of any nation. This is certainly not intended to indicate disrespect. They do respect the flag of whatever country they live in, and they show this respect by obedience to the country’s laws. They never engage in antigovernment activity of any kind. In fact, Witnesses believe that present human governments constitute an “arrangement of God” that he has permitted to exist. So they consider themselves to be under divine command to pay taxes and to respect such “superior authorities.” (Romans 13:1-7) This is in line with Christ’s famous statement: “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar—and to God what belongs to God.”—Matthew 22:21, Catholic Jerusalem Bible.

But why, then,’ some may ask, ‘do Jehovah’s Witnesses not honor the flag by saluting it?’ It is because they view the flag salute as an act of worship, and worship belongs to God; they cannot conscientiously give worship to anyone or anything except God. (Matthew 4:10; Acts 5:29) Therefore, they appreciate it when educators respect this conviction and allow Witness children to abide by their beliefs.

Not surprisingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not alone in believing that the flag salute is related to worship, as the following comments show:

"Early flags were almost purely of a religious character. . . . The aid of religion seems ever to have been sought to give sanctity to national flags.” (Italics ours.)—Encyclopædia Britannica.

"The flag, like the cross, is sacred. . . . The rules and regulations relative to human attitude toward national standards use strong, expressive words, as, ‘Service to the Flag,’ . . . ‘Reverence for the Flag,’ ‘Devotion to the Flag.’” (Italics ours.)—The Encyclopedia Americana.

"Christians refused to . . . sacrifice to the [Roman] emperor’s genius—roughly equivalent today to refusing to salute the flag or repeat the oath of allegiance.”—Those About to Die (1958), by Daniel P. Mannix, page 135.

Again, Jehovah’s Witnesses intend no disrespect for any government or its rulers by a refusal to salute the flag. It is just that they will not, in an act of worship, bow down to or salute an image representing the State. They view it as similar to the stand taken in Bible times by three young Hebrew men who refused to bow down before the statue raised up on the plain of Dura by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel, chapter 3) So then, while others salute and pledge allegiance, children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to follow their Bible-trained consciences. Thus, they silently and respectfully refrain from participating. For similar reasons, Witness children choose not to participate when national anthems are sung or played.



I learned this from Jehovah's Witnesses.

  1. They believe that Satan is the ruler of this world:

    John 12:31 (NIV)
    Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

    John 14:30 (NIV)
    I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me.

  2. They also believe that each and every kingdom here on Earth is ruled and controlled by Satan:

    Daniel 2:44 (NIV)
    In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

So, for them, if you are saluting the flag they feel that you are saluting what Satan has made:

1 John 5:19 (NIV)
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

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