Mennonite Weekly Review: Goshen policy on anthem topic for debate

I’ve posted a comment on this story (which you can read by following the link above and scrolling past the story), but on further thought have decided to discuss this in more detail here. First, though, let’s look at Goshen College’s response to this story and the local press coverage of the situation…

Goshen College: Background on recent events related to Goshen College and the National Anthem (at the bottom of this story are links to some of the local/national media coverage, except that the South Bend Tribune story can only be found via Google cache now)

The Mennonite (reprinting a story from the Goshen News): Conservative radio host upset with no-anthem policy at Goshen College

Going back to the substantive issue at hand, I am proud that Goshen College is not only standing firm in its practice but also using the opportunity to witness to others about the non-violent teachings of Christ. However, this pride is tempered by the fact that I have learned that many Mennonite colleges have chosen to not follow our tradition and instead have chosen to bow down before the idols of nationalism and militarism. Here’s a quote from the Mennonite Weekly article that describes this great wrong…

Goshen is not alone in that tradition; Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and Hesston (Kan.) College also do not play the anthem.

However, other U.S. Mennonite schools — Bluffton (Ohio) University, Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., and Fresno (Calif.) Pacific University — do play the anthem before sports events.

I am stunned by this news. I am writing to the schools in question (but particularly to Bethel College, which is heavily supported by my own Western District Conference) to ask them to justify this practice, and further to ask why Mennonite Churches should support them if they continue to practice this idolatrous mixing of faith and patriotism.

And for those of you who think I’m making too much out of nothing . . .

. . . I ask you to read the text of the fourth verse of The Star Spangled Banner. It is not often sung but it was part of Francis Scott Key’s original composition and provides the final concluding crescendo to the song.

From – Wikipedia: The Star Spangled Banner (emphasis added is my own)

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This is blasphemy and is no different than what the Nazis taught in their day. In fact, the Nazi Armies marched into battle wearing belt buckles that said “Gott Mitt Uns” (“God with us”). How is that different than the anthem’s statement of America being a “heav’n rescued land” that has the God-given responsibility to conquer other nations (“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just”)?

Gott mit uns