Patriotic students are infuriated after the Pledge of Allegiance and the Presentation of Colors were removed from Seattle Pacific University’s Veteran’s Day chapel over fears they might offend people.
The university’s Military and Veteran Support Club was outraged by the chaplain’s decision. They called it a “slap in the face” of every soldier who fought, sacrificed and died for our freedoms.
SPU is a Christian university of the Free Methodist tradition – but the student population includes a diverse group of denominations – including some that ascribe to pacifism.
“The organizers decided not to include the pledge of allegiance and the presentation of colors during the November 10th chapel, given that there are diversity of views on campus whether such elements should be part of a Christian worship service,” read a statement from the university to Q13 Fox.
“By removing the presentation of the flag and the pledge of allegiance, SPU would not only disrespect students from the military and intelligence community on campus, but also eliminate any reference to the values and freedoms that make it possible for University Ministries to assemble at a chapel in the first place,” student Sarah Martin said.
University Chaplain Bo Lim had originally included both the pledge and the presentation of colors – but reversed his decision over concerns from a handful of students and faculty.
“If the purpose of the service was in part, an opportunity for the entire SPU community to grow in solidarity and support for our military community, I believe including the pledge and flag would work counter to that,” he wrote in an email obtained by Fox News and first reported by The College Fix.
Chaplain Lim pointed out that a large number of the faculty are from Anabaptist traditions.
“This Christian tradition is pacifist, and would object to Christians serving in the military, holding military Christian services, and having military or political symbols in church sanctuaries,” he wrote.
He went on to write in a lengthy letter than he would rather have people focused on supporting the veterans rather than whether or not there was a flag present in the chapel.
“Perhaps some of you have come from communities where there wasn’t a diversity of views on Christians serving in the military, the flag or the pledge,” he wrote. “But such is not SPU.”
Tell that to the Military and Veteran Support Club.
“As several veterans have already noted, their friends did not die for our country so that Americans could be ashamed of or made uncomfortable by their own flag,” they wrote in a Facebook message.
Sarah Martin, 21, founded the group when she was a freshman. She was also on the original planning committee for the Veteran’s Day Chapel.
“The pledge and the presentation of colors were in our original plans and then they took them out,” she told me.
Miss Martin wrote a powerful message urging the chaplain to reconsider his decision.
“By removing the presentation of the flag and the pledge of allegiance, SPU would not only disrespect students from the military and intelligence community on campus, but also eliminate any reference to the values and freedoms that make it possible for University Ministries to assemble at a chapel in the first place,” she wrote. “Furthermore, you are stripping the chapel of a deeper meaning that glorifies God.”
She went on to lecture the university’s chaplain that pledging and presenting does not mean they are worshipping the flag.
“I believe that eliminating the pledge will rob Christians of the opportunity to give God the glory for the blessings of our freedoms, which were preserved by our veterans and are symbolized by our flag,” she added.
Miss Martin told me in a telephone interview that she’s perplexed over their reasoning to remove the flag and pledge.
“It’s called the Veteran’s Day Chapel,” she said. “No one is forced to participate. No one is forcing them to stand and place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge.”
She said her phone lines have been flooded with students who took offense about the accusations they were not being sensitive to diversity.
“We want them to bring back the flag as they originally planned to do,” she said. “It’s a Veteran’s Day Chapel and if someone is uncomfortable with the flag, it is unlikely they would go to the chapel in the first place.”
Amen, Miss Martin. Preach!
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.