Instrumental anthem to be played at sporting events

It was announced Friday by the Goshen College President’s Council that an instrumental version of the national anthem will be played at some sporting events (depending on the sport’s tradition to play the anthem), and it will be followed by a prayer.

The decision will be implemented at the beginning of the spring sports season in March.

“We have a diverse campus,” said Bill Born, the Dean of Students, “that represents different faith perspectives.”

In fact, Goshen College’s student body represents 40 Christian denominations, as well as several other religions. Taking into consideration the different perspectives of both current students and alumni, the President’s Council reached their decision based on the following four beliefs (As quoted from Jim Brenneman’s letter to the student body):

• “We believe that playing the anthem offers a welcoming gesture to many visiting our athletic events, rather than an immediate barrier to further opportunities for getting to know one another.
• We believe playing the national anthem is one way that is commonly understood to express an allegiance to the nation of one’s citizenship. We have shown that in the past in a variety of other ways, such as flying a flag on campus, praying for all men and women serving our country, welcoming military veterans as students and employees, annually celebrating the U.S. Constitution and encouraging voting.
• We believe playing the anthem in no way displaces any higher allegiances, including to the expansive understanding of Jesus – the ultimate peacemaker – loving all people of the world.
• We believe playing the anthem opens up new possibilities for members of the Goshen College community to publicly offer prophetic critique – if need be – as citizens in the loyal opposition on issues of deepest moral conviction, such as war, racism and human rights abuses.”

Discussions about the playing the National Anthem at Goshen College sporting events lasted over a year and are expected to continue. President Jim Brenneman encourages students, community members and churches to do so.

Kelsey Shue
Written by Kelsey Shue

1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    January 26, 2010

    Honoring one’s nation has always been awkward for Mennonites, though I think it is time we learned how to do it. The way to do it, however, is not by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner”–a song that celebrates victory in battle. This is the opposite of our faith. However, a song such as “America,” which celebrates the beauty and frutifulness of the land, and which acknowledges God’s grace and a hope for brotherhood among all, is far more consistent with Anabaptist faith. When I was a boy in public school in the Chicago suburbs, we never sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but instead more gentle songs about the nation. I would think an Anabaptist college would at least take that kind of stand. And to follow a patriotic song with a prayer (as the new policy envisions) is to subtly link patriotism with Christian faith–something Anabaptism strenuously opposes. I hope that the new policy is short-lived.

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