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The Posture of Kneeling

courtesy: New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints kneel to pray before game, August 11, 2016

“Bend the knee and join me. Together we will leave the world a better place than we found it,” says Daenerys Targaryen in “Game of Thrones.” With the treat of incineration by dragon, it’s a good idea to kneel. But kneeling in the NFL? Bad idea.

“Kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is disgraceful,” says President Donald Trump.

Yet it was only a few short years ago that an NFL player was praised for making a statement by taking a knee. Remember Tim Tebow?

“Tebowing is as simple as this – get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different,” explained sportcasters, when describing what became a movement among Christian athletes.

Still, Louisiana lawmakers, like state representatives Kenny Havard and Valarie Hodges, want the state to take action against the Saints for allowing the “take a knee” protests..

“This is a state-subsidized sporting event, so we’ve got all the rights to, you know, defund that,” Havard says.

And Tuesday Hodges told a group of Republican businesspeople she supports Havard’s idea.

“We’re subsidizing the Saints. It is about $50-million a year,” Hodges stated, adding, “If you can’t pledge allegiance to the flag, who is your allegiance to?”

That’s the essence of the question West Virginia’s Board of Education was asking with a rule they passed one month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941.

The regulation required schoolchildren to salute the flag, or be regarded as insubordinate, risking expulsion and prosecution of their parents for the child’s deliquency.

Arguments in that state’s defense of the law indicated at that time West Virginian’s board felt much like Representative Hodges does today, as she says, “The flag is what unites us under the Constitution.”

Yet in the midst of World War II, just as the Nazi forces completed liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, on Flag Day, June 14th, 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as follows:

“No official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”