An activist leading the charge for a constitutional amendment barring flag desecration has admitted that the proposal will be just the first of several changes to the Bill of Rights.
In a July 18 letter to a columnist for the conservative Washington Times newspaper, Patrick H. Brady, chairman of the Citizens Flag Alliance, tied the flag-burning amendment to a series of other long-sought Religious Right goals.
Wrote Brady, “But this is about rights: the right of the people to protect their flag, the right of the majority to rule, the right of the people to define their Constitution. And beyond the flag, the issue spills over into the right to protect our children from pornography, the right to own property, to pray, to post the Ten Commandments and to say the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Concluded Brady, a retired Army major, “If we can recapture our flag, we will have begun a march to recapture our Constitution.”
Americans United has long argued that the flag desecration amendment is unnecessary for two reasons. One, it treats the flag like a sacred symbol, which it is not. The term “desecration” has traditionally been used to define attacks on religious symbols and holy books. The flag is an important civic symbol of our nation, AU argues, but it has no religious meaning. Those who are so offended by flag “desecration” are investing the flag with religious meaning it lacks.
Two, AU has argued that one alteration of the Bill of Rights could easily lead to others. The Bill of Rights, AU points out, has not been altered since its ratification. Once that door is open, there’s no telling what might run through.
Brady’s admission, AU says, is telling because it is evidence that he and his cohorts have admitted they have a much broader agenda for America than the flag desecration amendment.
Two flag desecration amendments are pending in Congress. The leading measure, H.J. Res. 4, passed the House with the required two-thirds vote in early June and is pending in the Senate.