The map, as Alfred Korzybski was so fond of pointing out, is not the territory.
Neither is the flag the nation, nor the word the reality.
The tragedy, both for Christians and other believers as well as for Americans, is that far too many people far too often base their thoughts, values, and actions not on what either God or the US of A really are, but rather of the personal hopes and fears that they project on and thru their symbols of “God” and the flag.
It is no surprise then that the “God” and flag they love so dearly are full of self-nullifying contradictions, obsessed with trivia, and blind to pain, suffering, unrighteousness, and inequality.
They do not actually love God of all the universe/s, nor do they actually love the nation of / for / by the people.
Rather, they are in love with the tribal “God” that enriches them and blesses them at the expense of the not-mes (to use Peter Bergman’s turn of phrase), the flag that lets them prosper and flourish at the expense of others outside their tribe.
And it’s not sufficient to them that they enjoy a good, safe, and just life but that others must be in a lesser, envious position. What’s the good of owning a Cadillac if everybody on the street owns a Cadillac? What’s the good of having freedom of expression if other people get to say any damn thing they want to? What’s the good of going to heaven if there aren’t going to be miserable sinners writhing in hell envying you?
These lovers of “God” and flag are truly lovers of the self. They would sell out God in a heartbeat if Satan offered them a better deal, they’d flock to North Korea if they were to enjoy a dictator’s status.
And in both cases, they would quickly and deftly rationalize their betrayals.
Flag worship is a fascinating microcosm of the far greater whole that plagues us (i.e., humanity at large) through the actions of these tiny minded, closed-fist hearted individuals. When the country was formed, there was no flag. The legend of Betsy Ross was just that: A PR tale concocted to help inspire patriotism among a new generation of Americans who had not gone through the struggle of the revolution & did not fully understand or grasp the issues at hand.
There were wild variants on the flag in those early days, but everybody knew and recognized an American flag when they saw it (even non-Americans).
By the end of the Civil War the American flag had settled down to the standard format we use today (tho obviously modifications occurred as new states were added). It was displayed often and openly, poems and songs were written about it, tributes to people like Barbra Frietchie were recited and remembered not because of her devotion to a gaudy cloth symbol but of her devotion to her nation as a whole.
Then in the twentieth century, things began to change.
There’s a lot of input into that century, and we’ve neither time / space / energy / desire to pick at all the threads woven through the tapestry of history. Suffice it to say for the purposes of this discussion:
A pledge (oath / creed / doctrine) was introduced to focus attention primarily on the flag.
The real reason for this pledge was not for national patriotism but to sell more flags.
Even though the original pledge was written by a Baptist minister, the Congress of the United States nonetheless crammed a reference to “God” into it because that good Baptist minister was really a
gawddamn atheist commie simp bastich pinko socialist from whose ideas the intellectual purity of the flag and the big wealthy multi-national corporations that hid behind it needed to be protected.
And today we see people literally up in arms to protect a three colored piece of cloth from anyone who would dare show disrespect to it…
…while at the same time trivializing it on wrapping paper and underwear and goofy posters and millions of cheap meaningless copies that get discarded in the gutter following any big patriotic celebration.
They ignore the pain and suffering that the nation whom the flag represents has inflicted on those who protest against it, deeming those protesters cowards and traitors and ungrateful because they just don’t shut up and take it like a good not-me American should.
They use their flag as a weapon against those who demand the nation represented by the flag honor the promises it made to hundreds of millions of people.
Substitute “God” for flag and God for the US of A and you have the state of Christianity in America today.
We have a nation filled with far too many idol worshippers, idol worshippers whose true gods are self & mammon, but who disguise the crimes of those fiends by ascribing them to the one true God.
As H.L. Mencken once observed: “The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
The same can be said for those who follow God instead of “God.”
 And to be fair, it’s not just Christians and / or Americans who fall prey to this sort of thinking but individuals of all stripes, beliefs, nationalities, and ethnicities.
 If it were not so, it would open with “I pledge allegiance to the republic of the United States of America and to the flag that stands for it” not the other way around.
 You can’t sell an idea, and ultimately the United States of America is an idea. The moment enough people stop sharing that idea, it will fly apart. You can, however, sell trinkets that purportedly stand for that idea, but a field of white stars on blue against a banner of red and white stripes no more is the United States of America than a silver 1/120th scale replica of a cross is Christ’s gospel.
 Once upon a time, before they went off the rails, the Baptists were in the forefront of those who demanded a strict separation of church and state. Ah, those were the days…
 Which, until they hijacked it for partisan political purposes, had no official bearing over the pledge since it was created purely outside governmental control & interest.
 Rather than having any true intrinsic meaning and value, the original pledge salute was dropped in embarrassment like a steaming hot turd the moment Adolf & his dumb little buddies began aping it in Germany.