Sunday, February 21, 2010
GOSHEN, Ind. — For more than a century, there was no playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Goshen College — a small Christian college with ties to the Mennonite Church.
That's about to change. For the first time in the school's history, Goshen College will play an instrumental version of the U.S. national anthem before many campus sporting events.
The decision to reverse the ban on the anthem is aimed at making students and visitors outside the faith feel more welcome, but it has roiled some at the 1,000-student college who feel the song undermines the church's pacifist message and puts love for county above love for God.
Since college President Jim Brenneman announced the decision in January, about 900 people have joined the Facebook group "Against Goshen College Playing National Anthem," hundreds have signed an online petition protesting the move and letters sent to administrators and the campus newspaper have overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the change.
"We're very aware that not everyone on our campus that's part of this community shares the same views," said college spokeswoman Jodi Beyeler. "We believe that everyone here should feel like this is home."
John Roth, a Goshen College history professor, said Mennonites have historically avoided the song because its lyrics describe using war and military might to defend the country.