Goshen College again silences national anthem

June 15, 2011

Goshen College will no longer play "The Star-Spangled Ban­ner" at
sporting events, school leaders announced, reversing last year's
decision to allow the use of the national anthem for the first time in
the Mennonite college's history.

Some Mennonites had criticized
the anthem's lyrics as glorifying war and offensive to the school's
pacifist traditions. Goshen's board of directors said many felt the
school's "allegiance should be to Christ rather than to country.

"As
a result of a thoughtful, thorough, prayerful period of listening,
learning and discerning," the board said in a June 6 statement, "it is
the board's judgment that continuing to play the national anthem
compromises our ability to advance the vision [of Goshen College]
together."

The switch by the Indiana college, which is affiliated
with the Mennonite Church USA, upends a February 2010 decision to permit
an instrumental version of the song at athletic gatherings after
decades of shunning the patriotic anthem.

Supporters of the
anthem, who were mostly non-Mennonites, argued that it "honors our
country and improves community relations by welcoming and respecting the
views of non-Mennonite students."

The board is now seeking an
"alternative" to the national anthem "that fits with sports tradition,
that honors country, that resonates with our core values and that
respects the views of diverse constituencies."  —RNS