"In the religiously plural society of the United States, sectarian faith is optional for citizens, as everyone knows. Americans have rarely bled, sacrificed, or died for Christianity or any other sectarian faith. Americans have often bled, sacrificed and died for their country. This fact is an important clue to [the flag's] religious power. Though denominations are permitted to exist in the United States, they are not permitted to kill, for their beliefs are not officially true. What is really true in any society is what is worth killing for, and what citizens may be compelled to sacrifice their lives for." (Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle, Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag)
Excerpted in Stanley Hauerwas's new commentary on Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentary series, page 110.