31 August 2008

Identifying an Acceptable Alternative to American Citizenship

Regular readers of the site will know that I am fiercely against patriotism, nationalism, and the idea that Christians would make double allegiances - to God and to a nation-state. As many of you have privately shared with me by e-mail, and as I myself recognize, while I can babble on all I want about my views, there really isn't anything I can do about it.

I was thinking about this again tonight, and have done some research. I was born in Oakland, California, and so, by default, I am an American citizen. The fact that I refuse to claim it by profession or allegiance anymore doesn't change the fact that I am one when it comes to the law. I have no way to formally give up said citizenship without leaving the United States, possibly never to return.

Of course, this could launch me into a tirade (which I will spare you, dear reader, from having to digest in this post) on the rank fury that the travel process on this planet involves (i.e., passports and visas used to curtail the individual freedoms of people to visit where they please), but at the moment I want to focus on a subportion of this issue. I have had several people ask me why, if I am so determined to refuse to claim myself as an American, I don't just leave the country and be done with it. Simply put, I don't have a problem with America, per se... I have a problem with the concept of pledging allegiance to any nation-state. I like my community, am willing to pay my taxes, and obey all just laws. I have a good life, and I wouldn't trade that in for anything. It is a blessing from God.

So it got me thinking... and perhaps this gets a bit too "Starship Troopers" (anyone who has ever read the Heinlein classic or seen the first movie in the series will know to what I refer), but I have to ask aloud why anyone deserves 'citizenship' from birth anyway.

As an adult, I have made a conscious decision to separate myself from association with a nation. Yet, because I was born here, the choice was made for me. Interestingly enough, some people born on (technically) American soil aren't citizens, only nationals. Now, in practical application I don't know how this works out for them, but citizenship carries with it a level of expectation. A citizen should be willing to serve the state through jury duties, voting, military service (or alternative public service if they are physically unable to serve in the military), etc. Some of us don't want that; we simply want to be able to live our lives as either nationals (non-citizen, of course) or as legally-resident aliens. The latter would probably be my preference.

I have investigated several alternatives to American citizenship - none of them appear to amount to much more than a money-making scam.

There is the "Embassy of Heaven" (website) who will gladly invalidate all of your state-issued identification and documentation and send you (for a modest fee) everything from license plates to passports. (A Kingdom of Heaven Passport runs $50.00.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the "World Government of World Citizens" (website) who issue an equally dizzying number of "World Citizen" documents (I can't find their prices, though).

Other groups exist to help you with tax evasion and the like (under the guise of Global Citizenship of one form or another), and I am definately not interested in such groups.

So, what is a Christian to do when he feels compelled to forsake the nationalism that causes so much needless violence, squanders resources, and squelches the freedom of conscience, travel, and thought of those residing in their borders. I fear that there is no acceptable alternative that would actually do what I am seeking...

But if you have any leads, I'd be happy if you'd let me know.


FrGregACCA September 5, 2008 at 11:27 AM  

While we clearly cannot turn the state (or any particular political ideology or party) into an idol, St. Paul nonetheless characterizes the state as a "minister of God" and he was quite free about using his privileges as a Roman citizen when it was to his advantage and that of his mission to do so.

From my reading of the New Testament and the rest of the Tradition, we are called to obey the State and, as Americans, to actively exercise our civic rights and duties, the only exception being that when to do so would require us to obey men rather than God.

Father Robert Lyons September 5, 2008 at 11:37 AM  


I would like to be able to agree in principle, and I don't suggest actively disobeying the state (insofar as following just laws is concerned)... but there must be a balance between this and the concept of being an alien sojurning in this land.

Our citizenship is not here, on earth. Our citizenship is in heaven. I cannot kill people (actively or through a vote to put someone into office who would), nor can I force people to do things my way (either actively or through a vote). Christians must change the world through personal action, not through the ballot box.

Christians are also, in my opinion (and in the opinion, it seems, of the UN - though they hold to it as a broader principle), prohibited from free travel. I would like to visit Cuba, but the US Government won't permit it, because it claims it has jurisdiction over me in that respect. That is wrong and unjust. The freedom of travel that is our right as humans has been curtalied by nationalism. There needs to be an alternative.

And, frankly, while Paul may have been comforable using his rights as a Roman, I am not comfortable exercising my rights as, on paper, an American... Too much innocent blood has been spilled unjustly for me to have an ounce of respect for the rights of this nation when we have so blatantly smashed down the rights of others with violence, warfare, and death.


Pr. Rob Taylor September 18, 2008 at 10:31 AM  

I understand your frustration. Have you ever read Martin Luther's work on the Two Kingdoms?

Pr. Rob

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