Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, has become a target of public outrage over its decision to ban the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events because it conflicts with the school's core values.
“We recognize that some people may not be satisfied with this decision, but we believe it is the right one for Goshen College,” Ricky Stiffney, chairman of the college’s board of directors, said in a written statement. “The board has a diversity of views on this issue as reflected through the process of considering the anthem.”
According to an online fact sheet on the issue, the college noted: “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.”
The Mennonite Church is historically a peace church but does not have an official position on playing the national anthem.
“It’s obviously about a battle,” Goshen College art professor John Blosser told Fox News Radio. “It’s rather violent. It’s about using violence to conquer and that would be something that many people here would have problems with.”
Last year, the college decided to allow the playing of an instrumental version of the song at sporting events – but ultimately school officials decided to outright ban the national anthem.
“Goshen College has been and remains a ministry of Mennonite Church USA with an enduring peace tradition,” Carlos Romero, executive director of the Mennonite Education Agency, said in a written statement. “The board’s decision reflects a belief that faith and honoring country can co-exist without disturbing higher allegiances to God and that Goshen College will become increasingly diverse and will welcome diverse viewpoints.”
The decision was overwhelmingly supported by students, but not by community residents.
Goshen City Councilman Harland Lantz told Fox News Radio that the decision is “anti-American.”
“It really hurts,” he said. “(The national anthem) is the American way.”
Donald Riegsecker, another city councilman, also disagreed with the college's decision.
“People are disappointed,” he said. “I’m starting to wonder if it’s not more about politics than theology.”
“It seems like students have been taught since high school more liberal views than conservative views,” he said. “By the time they hit college, they’re thinking more liberal and by the time they get out of college they’re really liberal. That’s the way the professors tend to lead them.”
Riegsecker said he wished “teachers would just teach and professors would just teach and let kids make their decisions on their own as to what their politics are and what they believe.”
Professor Blosser disputed any notion the college is anti-American.
“This is not an anti-patriotic thing,” he said. “It does not make us communist just because we take a stand against that particular point of view. As an educated person, I don’t always stand where the government takes a stand.”
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.