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Liberal Arts College Bans the Star-Spangled Banner at Sporting Events

Liberal Arts College Bans the Star-Spangled Banner at Sporting Events

Goshen College, a small liberal arts school in Indiana, announced that it would ban the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events, fifteen months after the school began to play an instrumental version before some games.  The college, which is affiliated with the Mennonite Church, has a strong tradition of pacifism, and apparently the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner was offensive to “students, faculty members and alumni,” who complained to the Board of Directors.  This is despite the fact that the church itself does not have a stance on the national anthem.

Resistance to the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner came, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, from “some who believe the hymn glorifies war and distracts from the college’s Christian values.”  The decision to play the song was originally intended to be more welcoming to opposing teams, but many believed that it was out of sync with the school’s values.  The Board of Directors has asked the school’s president to find an alternative.

“We recognize that some people may not be satisfied with this decision, but we believe it is the right one for Goshen College,” said the chair of the Board.

And Carlos Romero, executive director of the Mennonite Education Agency, commended the school for its thoughtfulness in making the decision.  “The willingness to listen and learn from one another has indeed modeled a process to the wider church and community about how to engage difficult issues. In today’s polarized culture, that is indeed an important gift,” he said.

The whole incident raises an interesting question: what exactly does the Star-Spangled Banner symbolize?  The students, alumni and faculty members who complained about its affiliation with war and a glorification of nationalism (which some Christian communities find distasteful and incompatible with their religious beliefs) have a point, but it’s also true that the national anthem can also be seen to represent our nation’s best.  Pacifist Christian communities, however, stress the need to rise above nation and focus on the myriad of believers in Christ who transcend borders, so the decision is more understandable in that context.  But it’s a hard choice to judge.

What do you think?  Should Goshen College have banned the Star-Spangled Banner from its sporting events?

 

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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56 comments

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6:27AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:12AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Good for them standing up for their values. (heck for HAVING values besides "We're Number One!" and "Low Low Prices!") I happen to like the Star Spangled Banner, but I also like the freedoms we (still just barely) have in the USA to choose for ourselves and within our own communities how best to conduct our own affairs. Most Christian groups I've come into contact with seem pretty war-loving, hateful, violent, oppressive & militant, and deeply disdainful of any non-conformity from typical jingoistic US flag-waving propaganda, even hateful of freethinking & free speech, so it's wonderful to see some diversity of belief & values there. It's certainly not censorship because the song is not "banned" from public use, just this one school chooses not to play it. I respect their decision.

6:38AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:54PM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

i do not support the banning of ANY kind of speech or art.

6:06AM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

Just because people don't sing the national anthem doesn't mean that they're traitors or unpatriotic. What's with all this "Oh, the US won't protect them when we get invaded". That's crap.

9:55PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

Great! And if we're ever invaded, we just won't bother to defend Goshen College.

3:17AM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Hey, why don't we ban sporting events?

1:08AM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Is there any place for patriotism in this country?

10:57PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Nutso's

10:15PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Hmm well it is at least a partial description of a battle. If they are truly pacifist then I can see why they would not want to promote it. I don't see what the big deal is really its just their own school policy. Now I know some are offended by their unwillingness to play it but keep in mind if we are taking things that are supposed to symbolize freedom to us and forcing them on others, then they are no longer symbols of freedom. Each to his own I say.

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