College bans national anthem at sporting events

posted at 3:45 pm on June 9, 2011 by Tina Korbe

A small liberal arts college with a strong pacifist tradition recently banned the national anthem at sporting events, after some students, faculty and alumni complained the song glorifies war (h/t Fox News’ “America Live” today). The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Fifteen months after Goshen College began allowing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be played at sporting events, the institution’s board of directors has suspended the practice in response to complaints. …  The board of the Mennonite liberal-arts college has asked its president to come up with a song “that fits with sports tradition, that honors country and that resonates with Goshen College’s core values and respects the views of diverse constituencies,” according to a press release.

School representatives say this suspend-and-replace policy is not actually a ban — but they have also said the Star Spangled Banner doesn’t fit the founding principles of Goshen College.

In a Facebook message posted Wednesday afternoon, Indiana’s Goshen College distanced itself from rumors that it had “banned” the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” at sports games because the lyrics were “violent.”

“Goshen College HAS NOT ‘banned’ the National Anthem. The Board HAS asked President James E. Brenneman to find an alternative to playing the Star-Spangled Banner that fits with sports tradition,” the message clarified. …

Goshen College initially issued a statement Tuesday to Fox radio stating, “Historically, playing the national anthem has not been among Goshen College’s practices because of our Christ-centered core value of compassionate peacemaking seeming to be in conflict with the anthem’s militaristic language.”

I disagree that the Star Spangled Banner glorifies war. Certainly, it suggests some things are worth fighting for — and maybe Mennonites disagree even with that — but it doesn’t glamorize the fight. If anything, the lyrics convey just what fear must pervade a night of battle, what relief must come with the dawn. To see the flag only intermittently by the glare of rockets sounds terrifying — not at all like an experience I’m itching to have. The additional, mostly unsung verses only add to the heavy impression. One line says: “The foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes.” Another mentions “the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion.” The final verse refers to peace as a blessing.

But while I disagree with the school’s decision, I somehow can’t bring myself to reduce this story to one about a battle with the PC police — because it also touches on religious freedom. The conservative cowgirl in me — you know, that part of a conservative that says “rid the world of lawlessness, but, for the most part, let people be” (credit to writer Ross McCullough for that concept) — says the school certainly has the prerogative to play or not play whatever songs it chooses. It is, after all, a private school run by the Mennonite Church USA. But I still hope school officials are aware of how closely their pacifism seems to resemble paranoia and how far it seems from patriotism: The version of the national anthem the school used before the ban was already instrumental-only.


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I assume that Goshen also refuses to allow the colleges it is competing against to play their “fight songs” (and that Goshen itself does not have one)?

malclave on June 9, 2011 at 6:04 PM

I was going to say they could play “eye of the tiger”, but that’s probably a little too violent too.

Maybe they could sing “blowing in the wind”.

Free Indeed on June 9, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Del Dolemonte on June 9, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Wow! Rocky Roccoco, I haven’t heard that name in 30 years!

hip shot on June 9, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Yeah, they’re still around, in fact they did a reunion tour last year on the Left Coast. Sample here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W10KaY8L6e4

Del Dolemonte on June 9, 2011 at 6:06 PM

My kids have received at least a thousand pamphlets from colleges over the last couple years. At least I can easily cross one of the list./

CW on June 9, 2011 at 6:18 PM

But if they don’t, like it or not, a private institution has the right to set up things how they like.

catmman on June 9, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Agreed, if they are receiving any assistance, then people can decide if this institution is worthy of a higher education. As it stands, their values are in conflict with their morals.

Kini on June 9, 2011 at 6:20 PM

I’d like to see combat death rates from medical units.

mankai on June 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Well, I don’t know about rates, and in fact the man that came to mind survived the battle, but one example is Desmond Doss:

His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-a-f.html

malclave on June 9, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Leave them alone. Mennonites are good americans and actually the least of America’s problems. There are millions more problems in California.

seven on June 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM

“At Goshen, we’re passionate about making peace. If you believe in care of the earth and care of one another, if you put your faith and God before anything else, this is the college for you. We’re for people who want to serve the world with joy in the name of peace.”

From the official Goshen College website.

There’d be no Indiana, no Goshen College, no America, had the Founders decided that peace at any cost was better than standing up for what is Right. If I were an employer, I’d set aside applications from Goshen grads…until I got really really desperate for employees…and even then, I’d consider others, first, second, third…long before I’d pick up an application from a Gashen grad. Damaged goods long before they have graduated.

coldwarrior on June 9, 2011 at 6:36 PM

More proof that religion causes people to think stupid things.

keep the change on June 9, 2011 at 6:36 PM

They should hope that some day some group doesn’t take over that either tells them they have to play that anthem or that they absolutely have to…or else.

In the meantime they should play it out of reverence for those things about our country that give them the ability to make that choice in the first place.

This country doesn’t have to exist. Our freedoms don’t have to exist.

I’ll never get these groups that act as if America has always been around and that their types have always had these freedoms.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 9, 2011 at 6:37 PM

“The board of the Mennonite liberal-arts college has asked its president to come up with a song ‘that fits with sports tradition, that honors country and that resonates with Goshen College’s core values and respects the views of diverse constituencies,’ according to a press release.”

Huh. I got some idears.

Imagine, John Lennon.

(You gotta) Fight for your Right to Party, Beastie Boys.

I Kissed a Girl, Katie Perry.

Jet Boy, New York Dolls.

People who Died, Jim Carroll.

Jean Genie, David Bowie.

We Are the World, a Bunch of Morons.

“C’mon people, show yer school spirit!”

Akzed on June 9, 2011 at 6:38 PM

More proof that religion causes people to think stupid things. Karl Marx on June 9, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Akzed on June 9, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Goshen College
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526

(800) 348-7422
(574) 535-7000

coldwarrior on June 9, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Thanks to the great job our entire educational system does of teaching history these days; I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of students have no idea what the words in the national anthem refer to. Most think it has to do with the revolution, mention the War of 1812 and you get a blank look!

pgrossjr on June 9, 2011 at 6:48 PM

So, uhm, God can’t fight Satan? I’m confused.

SouthernGent on June 9, 2011 at 6:53 PM

We have a lot bigger problems than these people. I think they are misguided but they are sincere. It is their school. The closed and tribal nature of their community doesn’t appeal to me, but they mind their own business and they take care of their own.

My biggest gripe is that they aren’t made to put lights on those damn carriages. They are a damned hazard on a dark night.

novaculus on June 9, 2011 at 6:53 PM

My biggest gripe is that they aren’t made to put lights on those damn carriages. They are a damned hazard on a dark night. novaculus on June 9, 2011 at 6:53 PM

They can drive cars, they’re like liberal Amish. BTW, give the Amish some cred, they now have giant bags under their horses’ poop chutes.

Akzed on June 9, 2011 at 6:56 PM

I haven’t read all the posts, so forgive me if this has been addressed. I used to live in Goshen, down the street from the college. This is less about politics and more about religion. the Mennonites are against violence and have never been nationalistic. I think they are wrong about how they do it, but it is a truly held belief. They have equated peace with the absence of war. So no wars are acceptable to them. They would oppose a war to stop the genocide of a race, while praying for the genocide to end. It is part of their religious convictions and who they are.

efemdy on June 9, 2011 at 6:57 PM

It could be a real problem if Goshen plays Alabama or LSU for the college football title!

MaiDee on June 9, 2011 at 7:05 PM

It could be a real problem if Goshen plays Alabama or LSU for the college football title! MaiDee on June 9, 2011 at 7:05 PM

Or the Blue Hens of Delaware!

Akzed on June 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Just replace it with “America the Beautiful”

That’s always been the default replacement for the patriotic pacifist.

Do that and the whole issue will go away.

Sackett on June 9, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Sackett on June 9, 2011 at 7:50 PM

They might wish to delete the third verse.

coldwarrior on June 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Just replace it with “America the Beautiful”

That’s always been the default replacement for the patriotic pacifist.

Sackett on June 9, 2011 at 7:50 PM

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

malclave on June 9, 2011 at 9:02 PM

College bans national anthem at sporting events
===============================================

****************** NUTS ***********************************

canopfor on June 9, 2011 at 9:41 PM

A “Liberal Arts” college, eh? Liberals don’t want to hear the National Anthem, eh? I guess it’s time to get the Liberals out of the Congress and the White House so we can remain a Republic and START TO BECOME A NATION AGAIN! Cut funding for that and any other “liberal” school and if you have a kid there….TAKE THEM OUT AND SEND THEM TO AN AMERICAN SCHOOL!

afotia on June 9, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I think you’re confused about what “liberal arts” means.

tneloms on June 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM

But while I disagree with the school’s decision, I somehow can’t bring myself to reduce this story to one about a battle with the PC police — because it also touches on religious freedom.

Congrats for not taking the knee-jerk response. This is not the usual case of liberals pretending to pacifism when they really just hate patriotism. The Mennonites have always been conscientious objectors to warfare. While I don’t agree with that belief — and even less so in this instance — they’re just being consistent in their beliefs.

There Goes The Neighborhood on June 10, 2011 at 2:40 AM

A “Liberal Arts” college, eh? Liberals don’t want to hear the National Anthem, eh? I guess it’s time to get the Liberals out of the Congress and the White House so we can remain a Republic and START TO BECOME A NATION AGAIN! Cut funding for that and any other “liberal” school and if you have a kid there….TAKE THEM OUT AND SEND THEM TO AN AMERICAN SCHOOL!

afotia on June 9, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I’m a proud conservative who just got his BA in History from my school’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. I’m returning in the fall to begin my work towards a Master’s degree in the same as a graduate assistant.

I don’t think you have any concept of what “liberal arts” means. You do realize that liberal didn’t always mean statist, don’t you?

“In classical antiquity, the “liberal arts” denoted the education worthy of a free person (Latin: liber, “free”).”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_arts

As for the subject of this blog entry, the Mennonites, as has been pointed out before here, aren’t the typical Liberal/PC sort. Let them do what they want, as horribly mistaken as they may be.

But no government money for them. None whatsoever.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 9, 2011 at 5:49 PM

So-called conservatives like Antonin Scalia? Freedom of speech doesn’t exist just so people can do things you agree with, unpatriotic though such actions may be.

Gary's Johnson on June 10, 2011 at 4:52 AM

I do work in Goshen at times and have done business with that college in the past. No more. Yes, they have the right, as a pacifist religious institution, to opt out of defending their own freedoms, but that puts the burden on others to do it for them. There are plenty of us willing to do that, no problem there. But who I choose to do business with is part of my freedom. They can go to hell.
BTW, what does it take to satisfy an Amish girl?
Two Mennonite.

SKYFOX on June 10, 2011 at 6:17 AM

As a Ph.D. told me many years ago, “There is no shortage of stupidity in those with advanced degrees. They just have an advanced sort of stupidity. How do you tell the difference between normal stupidity and advanced stupidity? By the degrees, of course!”

“The Star Spangled Banner” is the National Anthem, and the sporting tradition has been to play the national anthem before sporting events.

It’s not a song which extols or promotes violence, but rather one which celebrates the successful defense against attack and the routing of the aggressor.

If the school’s pacifist tradition cannot abide that, then they should also reject all federal grants and aid for them and their students. Heh, like they are that devout . . .

Adjoran on June 10, 2011 at 7:09 AM

“Goshen College HAS NOT ‘banned’ the National Anthem. The Board HAS asked President James E. Brenneman to find an alternative to playing the Star-Spangled Banner that fits with sports tradition,” the message clarified.

Ah, how about “We Will Rock You”?

the_souse on June 10, 2011 at 8:11 AM

The lack of tolerance on this board saddens me. This is a religiously affiliated college who is trying their best to balance their religious beliefs with the secular world.

To those of you who say f them, would you feel better if they compromised their beliefs? I don’t agree with them, but I surely don’t feel they should compromise what they feel is appropriate based on what I believe. That’s the beauty of our country!

Many of you are showing the same level of tolerance as the libs do when they disagree with a conservative viewpoint. Shame shame.

sheesh on June 10, 2011 at 10:29 AM

This is where a flash mob comes in handy: At a precise signal, everyone in the flash mob begins singing the national anthem with no official sanction or signal from the control booth.

I think the same should be done at graduations that ban prayer: The flash mob begins “Our Father who art in heaven ….”

LonelyMassRepublican on June 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM

The Mennonites have a College? Why yes, and not merely Goshen. There is also Bethel, Hesston, and Tabor in Kansas, Bluffton in Ohio, Eastern Mennonite in Virginia, and Fresno Pacific in California. Will this nonsense spread? Quite likely! However a saving grace may be the large Amish (Old Mennonite) group within the now united Mennonite Church USA. For over 100 years, the Amish carried on a bitter struggle with a number of States to eliminate the normal requirement that all children attend school until age 16. They wanted only a grade school education for their children, least the children become “worldly”. Perhaps the Amish group will prevail within the now united church and support will be withdrawn for the Mennonite colleges.

John Adams on June 10, 2011 at 12:22 PM

First, this is a private college, and they have the right to frame their school to match their values. Second, in the Mennonite faith there is an emphasis on peace, on community and service (Amish are group under the Mennonite umbrella).

Goshen College was formed to keep to keep young Mennonites from leaving the faith after going to college. I disagree with the their understanding of the Star Spangled Banner, but I respect their need to make their own decisions. I just think they’re wrong.

itsspideyman on June 10, 2011 at 1:54 PM

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