A month ago, Goshen College announced their decision to play the national anthem before sporting events. In President Brenneman’s letter to the students, he stated that playing the anthem “will open possibilities for GC community members to publicly offer critique.”
President Brenneman was right. Members of the public such as major theologians, priests, conference ministers and college professors are offering critique from places as far away as Sweden and Brazil.
Since the President’s Council’s unanimous decision was made, more than 790 members have joined a Facebook group titled “Against Goshen Playing the National Anthem” that was started by John Zimmerman on Feb. 2.
Frustrations, as well as alternative ideas, continue to be shared on the Facebook group “Against Goshen Playing the National Anthem.” The suggestion was made to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” while another suggested a simple explanation included in the game program.
On Feb. 9, not long after the Facebook group was started, a letter was written by Nekeisha and Andy Alexis-Baker. Roughly 850 people have signed a petition on jesusradicals.com. Signatures, which are growing at a rate of nearly 10 people per hour, include persons from varying faith backgrounds.
The Alexis-Bakers spoke for many when they wrote of their disappointment in “break[ing] a 114-year-old practice and rebuff[ing] a 500-year-old Anabaptist heritage of nonconformity.”
The letter continues, stating that “instead of teaching the cost of discipleship, this decision teaches to cave in to social pressures at the expense of faithful witness to the way of Christ and the path of peace.”
Current students Peter Miller, Nate Vader, Nate Gerig and David Jost feel that their views as students haven't been taken into account. They also see the need to unite current students and alumni who are opposed to playing the anthem. The four are still in conversation about how to communicate their opposition, “and to communicate it respectfully,” insisted Gerig.
Jim Brenneman sent a letter to the community Wednesday evening acknowledging the responses against the decision as well as the decision process itself.
He concluded by stating, “We encourage the open exchange of ideas characterized by respect for each other and the church that is central to the teaching and learning commitments of Goshen College. This decision will be reviewed by the Board in June 2011.”