The red glare of the rocket; the bursting of bombs; the silencing of sports fans? A college in Indiana says that “The Star Spangled Banner” is a tad too violent and won’t let the US National Anthem be heard at school games this season.
Administrators at Goshen College, a small Mennonite school in the American Midwest, say that Francis Scott Key’s wartime opus isn’t appropriate for the ideals the college believes in.
“We recognize that some people may not be satisfied with this decision, but we believe it is the right one for Goshen College,” Goshen’s chairman of the board of directors, Rick Stiffney, says in a written statement. A press release from the school adds that the college’s Christ-centered core value of compassionate peacemaking conflicts with the violence depicted in the anthem, and that therefore it is in the best interest to retire the song from sporting events.
The lyrics of the historic tune were nixed last year in favor of an instrumental version, but now Goshen officials have decided to ban the tune entirely.
Executive Director Carlos Romero of the Mennonite Education Agency adds in a statement that Goshen College has “an enduring peace tradition” which officials feel isn’t properly reflected by the lyrical content of the song. The words, penned by Key during the War of 1812, describe the scene at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during a time of battle.
“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,” writes Romero.
Students at Goshen have supported the decision, but other citizens in the tiny college town feel like the decision is a travesty for the country. Goshen City Councilman Harland Lantz told Fox News that the decision is “anti-American” and proposed that those in favor of the ban “go down and live in Cuba or Iran” before they decide that the National Anthem is nixed from sports games.
Another school officials, however, Art professor John Blosser, has stood by the college’s decision. To The Goshen News he says that people within the community won’t blindly accept what the rest of the country does, and to Fox he adds that “this is not an anti-patriotic thing.” Despite allegations from Lantz and others that feel that the school is corrupting its pupils into anti-American ideals, Blosser says the only thing the ban is doing is encouraging free-thinking. “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,” Blosser says to Fox.
The school is currently searching for an alternative that they hope will fit with the sport’s tradition, honors America and resonates the values of Goshen College.