Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Australian ‘Pledge' Vs an American ‘Oath'

Laurel become an Australian Citizen [dual, actually] June 30, 2005. She officially became a willing subject of her Majesty the Queen of England. Strange, isn’t it? [Let me answer that: Yes it is.]

All she had to do was sing Waltzing Matilda, drink a beer, and make this pledge **:
From this time forward, [under God], I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

If I were ever to become a citizen of the US, I would have to take this Oath of citizenship:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform non-combatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
What do you think this says about the differences in our two countries?

Be kind. [Any unpatriotic statement will be naturally deleted by either me or the American.]

Love, Justin.

** That’s not true about Waltzing Matilda, by the way.

PS Name the town for points, and the statue for extra points. For even more points, name this town's two most famous preachers…


Scott said...

Where to start?

Australia seems to be born out of accepting the obvious fact that if we are all going to live on the same island, we might as well get along.

US of A seems forged out of something much more serious and considered.

If becoming American is like getting married, being Australian is like sitting in the back seat of a datsun and thinking, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with."

Having said that - I love and am proud of my aussie-ness. Wouldn't swap it for all the oil in Texas.(But I also love my brothers and sisters stateside)

David said...

americans are verbose.

Sharon said...

To become British, i need to take a test!! quetions like these

Where is the Scouse dialect spoken?
East London
Who is the Head of State of the United Kingdom?
The Prime Minister
The Queen
The Lord Chancellor
Her Majesty’s Government

EU Regulation is a
A general requirement that must be introduced and observed within an EU member state within a specific time frame
A specific rule that automatically has force in all EU member states, and that overrides national legislation

Anyone out there know there answers???

why can't they ask about teletubbies, and the national curriculum and the best place to buy lipstick, and the best gallery to visit on a saturday afternoon, and the coffee shop with the comfiest chairs???? I know those answers

S xxxxx

Tom said...

Hmm. Photo is intriguing. Looks like the south, probably Georgia. Looks like a general, but maybe a bit before the Revolution. He's not on a horse, which is unusual. Bit chubby for Washington. Not regal enough for Lafayette. Hair's a bit long for most revolutionaries also.

Maybe Oglethorpe?

Ahh. Google image search is wonderful. It is the statue of the founder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, in Savannah.

BTW, when I became an Australian citizen, I had to toast the queen. I figured why not, I have toasted much worse. I was a bit surprised that she wasn't mentioned in the pledge.

Who do you toast when you become an American?

Justin said...

Scott -- Whats not to love about the back seat of a Datsun? It feels comfortable back there, huh?

[Would you not give up your Aussie-ness for all the oil in Texas? For my part, I could be persuaded...]


You truly make me laugh, Scott.

Justin said...

David -- welcome to my Blog. Have you swung by before?

You comment is brief and susinct. I'm hoping that my parents-in-law, my collegues, my family, my neighbors are still friends with me after your comment!


Justin said...

Sharon, thats funny. I can answer everyone of the Citizenship questions, but none of the lipstick, school and shopping ones...


Are you about to become one?

Justin said...

Tom -- Welcome. Can I ask your connection to this Blog? And are you a former [or dual] American?

You get the points! [The Spanish Moss was the give away in my mind] You can go for the whole lot if you answer the last [and easier] questions.

byron said...

Notice that the Australian oath is to people (and to 'Australia', which is ambiguous - can't simply be the people, since that is added. It could be the place, the idea, the government. I assume the latter), whereas the US one is to the Constitution and laws. While Australia is thus more explicitly relational, America actually opens itself more directly to self-criticism, since I can hate and oppose all Americans if I think they are being unconstitutional.

Also curious how you can be a dual citizen when the US oath includes the opening negative clauses?

US option is more concerned about people joining under false pretensions. Though I wonder whether the strength of the US oath prevents a Christian honestly taking it. I am a citizen of heaven, which is a foreign sovereignty to that of the United States. This may sound like I'm just being clever, but I'm actually quite serious. I wonder whether the US oath, in trying to avoid subversive citizens, goes too far and strays into idolatry.

Finally, Australian pledge has optional 'under God' while US includes compulsory mention of God. Yet the function of these divine mentions is quite different. In the US one, mentioning God is yet another way of underlining the seriousness of the oath, whereas in the Australian pledge God is acknowledged in a more general manner as overseeing the possibility of human action. While this is implied in the American (that the oath requires God's help), I think the emphasis falls upon impressing people with the solemnity of the oath (also achieved through the unconditional language ('absolutely and entirely') and the piling up of synonyms ('foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereign')).

byron said...

For even more points, name this town's two most famous preachers
George Whitfield was one of them.

seapea said...

when i became a canuck, i too had to salue the queen and also the prime minister (if i remember correctly). i had to sing "O Canada~~~" but no beer for the underaged yours truly.

i would like to become an american just so that i can work w/o worrying about stupid immigration situations.

you are very lucky!

Justin said...

Seapea --

At the moment, my visa is a work one. Not a spouse one. I am here quite independently of Laurel. I have an R1. So I'll need to worry about all that soon enough.

Byron -- superbly perceptive, as always...

Tom said...


I am an oldie in St Ives, father of Al, Kat, Eric, Pete. I read often but comment little. A typically verbose American living in Oz for 11 years.

If Whitfield was one, would Wesley be another?

byron said...

Another difference - the Australian pledge is explicitly open-ended ('From this time forth'), whereas the American one, since it demands the renouncing of former allegiances, implicitly allows the possibility of a future renouncing of this allegiance too. It's like a marriage vow without a 'until death do us part' clause.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

You have to take tests to become a U.S. citizen, too. The part of the U.S. oath of citizenship which says that one will defend the Constitution and laws "against all enemies, foreign and domestic," no longer has to be understood in a militarist fashion as it once was.

It came about this way: D. C. Macintosh, a Canadian citizen, was a brilliant Baptist theologian who finished his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and then was hired by Yale University. He took time off during WWI to serve as a chaplain to Canadian and then U.S. troops. However, like many others, his experiences in WWI made Macintosh think more seriously about war, peace, and Christian discipleship. When he tried to become a U.S. citizen, he was refused because he could no longer pledge to bear arms--which is how the defend against enemies phrase was understood.
The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, another Baptist, defended Macintosh's liberty of conscience, but was outvoted. The majority opinion in Macintosh v. U.S. was against allowing him to become a citizen. In Macintosh's old age, after a stroke, another case overturned that, but, by this time, Macintosh had long since decided that he was always a Canadian.

My objections are more basic: Christians are forbidden in the Sermon on the Mount from taking oaths. Fortunately, since I was born in the U.S., I am automatically a citizen, but this would be a real barrier if I were to be naturalized. (When Bush was "reelected" in '04, I truly considered moving to Canada and seeking Canadian citizenship, but I am not very good with cold weather--and Bonhoeffer's words about how he could not participate in Germany's reconstruction if he sat out her suffering in America came to me. (Of course, Bonhoeffer didn't have kids. I am worried what they are learning as we move more rapidly into a police state from a democratic republic.)

Michael Canaris said...

--My objections are more basic: Christians are forbidden in the Sermon on the Mount from taking oaths.--
Only vain and rash ones (cf Art. 39.)

Kat B. said...

This comment is coming a little late in the game, but I wanted to think about it first.

Americans, in my experience, have an intense connection to the idea of the country itself. My own personal connection to it was unbelievably strong from a very early age, and lasted a long time after we moved.

Australians connect more to the people in the country. They idealise 'mateship' instead of 'americanism'.

Americans have elevated nationalism into an art form. I think if you asked the average American about what made them proud of their country, the people that made up American might not make it into the top five reasons. Ask the average Australian, and I think a lot of the pride comes from characteristics of the people themselves, and the way we relate to each other.

I think, while the American one is more overt and intense, the Australian one is much preferable.

Having said all of that, I should say that in a country as big as the US, my experience is not at all indicative of everyone else's.

Also, I agree with Scott about the oil. And with Justin about the datsun - much more comfortable back there. :)

Anonymous said...

I,m living in the U.S have an American wife.I,m at the point where I can aquire U.S citizenship.
But what I need to know is can I keep my Aussie citizenship as well

Justin said...

Kevin -- I'm not expert, and I do not know your situation.

I suggest you ring the consulate.

But, in principal, the two countries do allow for dual citizenship.

SO I'm guessing yes.