I love taking pictures of the American flag. The flag’s outward beauty is evident, but I think what it represents is even more beautiful; Independence. Freedom to worship without the government telling me how I need to pray or not to pray.
Personally, I have never known religious oppression, but I know it still exists. Growing up in the United States, I thought everyone had those same freedoms. When I moved to Guatemala I found out that I was wrong. Now, Guatemala is a much different place than it was even twenty years ago, and most people are very free to go to whatever church they like, but throughout Guatemala’s history the country struggled to find the right balance between secularism and religiosity. Mainly the Catholic and Protestant populations fought for control of the government.
Each group tried to impose it’s will onto the rest of Guatemala. This is a very simplified view of the centuries long struggle in the country. To go deeper we would have to consider racism, classism, and greed. Needless to say, Guatemala struggled because it wasn’t founded on independence and the freedom of religion like we were in the United States.
Maybe the reason why I love taking pictures of the flag is because America allows me to love my God. America lets me place God first in my life. I can abstain from saluting the flag if I feel like it is overtaking my allegiance to God. Just think back to the 1930s, in prewar Germany, people had to give the “Hitler Salute” or face severe punishment. And Germany was supposed to be a “Christian Nation.” But then again, that’s the same Nazi Germany that murdered millions of Jews just because they didn’t believe in Christ, which doesn’t sound like religious freedom to me, or very Christlike. I think it was Christ who said love your neighbor like yourself.
I know America has its flaws, but when I look at that flag, I see some of the things we’ve done right. I thank God for my country, and I pray that some day everyone will experience true independence, true adventure; a free life with God.
I hope you get a chance to take a look at your flag and think about what it means to you. Happy Fourth Of July!