I am a Vietnam veteran. I am grateful to have been born in America. I am also a Christian. American citizenship does not have first priority in defining my identity. Jesus Christ has earned that right and it is God, in Christ, who is no respecter of persons and who stands as the final judge of every nation.

One does not have to respect the statements of a particular public office holder in order to respect the office they hold. I do not respect either the foul public language of the president of the United States nor the idolatry of setting nation and allegiance to it above commitments driven by higher values.

Neither the football players who kneel nor those who stand during the national anthem deserve to be fired for their simple act of free expression. To suggest otherwise, as the person inhabiting the office of president has done, is to argue that behavior exalting nation over God is neither idolatrous nor worthy of judgment. No one who considers themselves a Christian patriot can ever argue in favor of a blind, nationalistic patriotism without inviting the judgment of both God and neighbor this deserves.

It is unfortunate that something as odious as an idolatrous nationalistic faith is being peddled as worthy through the highest public office in our country. Worse still is that a significant portion of our citizenry find it a convenient vehicle for situating evil in race, ethnicity and minority religious communities.

Thinking people cannot be quiet about these developments without unwittingly inviting the judgments such silence helps make inevitable.

Alan Toth

Rockland