My Faith: Why I don't sing the 'Star Spangled Banner'
June 26th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Faith: Why I don't sing the 'Star Spangled Banner'

Editor's Note: Mark Schloneger is pastor of Springdale Mennonite Church in Waynesboro, Virginia.

By Mark Schloneger, Special to CNN

I choose to belong to a strange tribe. Goshen College, my alma mater, made national news this month when its board of directors decided that the “Star Spangled Banner” would not be played before athletic events.

As could be expected, the decision was met with confusion and contempt. Wasn’t this just another example of our traditional values being trampled by the unrelenting march of political correctness? What sort of ingrates object to our nation’s anthem, anyway? Fluffy-headed campus philosophers? Lazy latte-sipping liberals?

The decision not to play the national anthem reversed last year’s decision to play it for the first time in Goshen College’s 116-year history. That, too, caught the media’s attention.

It also caused widespread concern and confusion among the college’s students, professors, alumni, supporters and, yes, donors - many of whom felt like playing the anthem compromised the college’s Christian values.

Goshen is a small school in northern Indiana that's owned and operated as a ministry of Mennonite Church USA. I am a Goshen graduate, a longtime member of the Mennonite Church and the pastor of a Mennonite congregation.

Mennonites live in countries all over the world. Though we speak many languages, have different ethnic origins, and express our faith in diverse ways, we all claim the Anabaptists in 16th century Europe as our spiritual ancestors.

The Anabaptists agreed with most of the ideas of the Protestant Reformation but felt that reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin didn't go far enough. Anabaptists rejected the practice of infant baptism, for instance, believing that water baptism should be reserved for believers who confess a faith in Jesus.

Because they understood the exercise of state power to be inconsistent with the church’s identity and mission, Anabaptists also advocated for the strict separation of church and state. This then-radical stance was prompted by both theology and necessity: Anabaptists had the distinct notoriety of being tortured and killed by both Catholics and Protestants wielding the power of the state against them.

Instead of compromising their core convictions about what it means to follow Jesus, thousands of Anabaptist men and women adhered to their freedom of conscience even as they were mocked by neighbors, burned at stakes and drowned in rivers.

Although there certainly are diverse viewpoints among individual Mennonites today, we continue to advocate for the strict separation of church and state. Most Mennonite churches do not have flags inside them, and many Mennonites are uncomfortable with the ritual embedded in the singing of the national anthem.

That’s because we recognize only one Christian nation, the church, the holy nation that is bound together by a living faith in Jesus rather than by man-made, blood-soaked borders.

To Mennonites, a living faith in Jesus means faithfully living the way of Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies and he loved his enemies all the way to the cross and beyond. Following Jesus and the martyrs before us, we testify with our lives that freedom is not a right that is granted or defended with rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. True freedom is given by God, and it is indeed not free. It comes with a cost, and it looks like a cross.

It’s a strange tribe to which I belong, and sometimes it’s hard to be strange. We struggle to be inclusive in our welcome yet passionate in our identity. Our desire for acceptance, for approval, is strong, and we don’t always live up to the convictions that we set before us.

We must repent of that, for the world cannot know of its brokenness and hopelessness without a people who show a holistic way of life. The world cannot know that there is an alternative to violence and war without a people of peace making peace. The world cannot know that the weak and the vulnerable are cared for by God without a people practicing an economy centered on sharing and mutual aid.

The world cannot know the unsurpassable worth of human life without a people who consistently work to protect it - in the fetus, in the convict, in the immigrant, in the soldier, and in the enemy.

These convictions do not reflect ingratitude or hatred for our country. Rather, they reflect a deep love for the church and a passionate desire for the church to be the church.

Mennonite beliefs and practices seem bizarre to some and offensive to others. But it’s life in this strange tribe that keeps me faithful to what I believe. I love my country, but I sing my loyalty and pledge my allegiance to Jesus alone.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Schloneger.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Mennonite

soundoff (4,381 Responses)
  1. TheRationale

    It's completely hypocritical to say that they believe in the separation of church and state but then claim that they can't sing the national anthem for religious reasons.

    June 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  2. JCS

    It is my opinion that if a person or group holds a belief such as the one that makes singing the national anthem of the country in which they live contrary to their religious beliefs, they should also be firm enough in their faith to fight paying taxes and being beholden to secular laws, and avoid using public services, roads, etc.
    Religious beliefs are important, and if you are willing to go far enough to offend others, you should be willing to go far enough to inconvience yourself as well.

    June 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"to offend others,"

      As much as I disagree with this bloke, is him not standing during the national anthem such a direct offense? There are people who would say a Person praying at a graduation to a interracial couple as offensive.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • chief

      pathetic.... at least the meonites arent systematically trying to take the country over and create a muslim nation.... just check the england or france for their test case....

      June 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • JW

      Many Mennonites do live in poverty by choice and choose to live simple lives. Many do avoid using public services and even using modern technology.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    There are Mennonites in my area of Ga. and if us red necks say they are okay folk and we do, then don't be messing with them.
    I am a big believer is seperation of church and state, being it is a religious school I can see a reason for not going down that road. Just because you don't play the national anthum does not mean you are an unpatriotic person, you are just saying there is a time and place for everything and in your opinion (free country that it is ) this is not the time nor place.

    No big deal to me

    June 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • DRT

      A very sound, logical, concise comment!

      June 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • DB5602

      Thank-you, HPNIII. You sound like a very thoughtful and well informed person. It's refreshing. It would be interesting to know how you arrived at a position of tolerance and respect for Anabaptists (Mennonite, Amish, Quakers, Church of the Brethren, etc.). Over the past 10 plus years I have been trying to discover more about my ancestry (back to 1294 in Bruges, Belgium and 1233 in the Netherlands) which goes back through Switzerland and the first selected bishop in North America of the Amish. You probably know that the Anabaptists and many others were "burned at the stake", tortured, drowned, banished, etc. during the 1500s and until about 1820 with banishment. Mennonites have moved by the thousands over 350 years to Prussia, Russia (not safe, especially during Stalin's rein of terror), Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Belize, Mexico, Canada, USA, etc. The moves were basically with a desire for mainly religious reasons, but also educational, and occupational freedom. We have solid cognitive reasons to believe what we do about separation of State and Church issues. Our roots, as you can see, have been consumed early on in the dealing with the issue. And just so you may know us a little better, many of us are very modern, have donated some of our time and efforts in many other countries in agriculture, medicine, etc., well traveled (God has been most kind in allowing me to visit 50+ countries in my 68 years), love this country as much as anybody, and try to love people equally regardless of where in the world they live. Most of us have gotten over a "martyr complex" and try our best with God's help to appreciate and respect the right of others to have a differing opinion – even strong non-thinking language of saying that we still should be "burned at the stake" for our opinions in the comment sections here.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  4. TheRationale

    Religious people doing weird things for even weirder reasons – somehow news.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      This is the belief section...get a clue.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Nurse Lisa

    the bible teaches us to respect the government too – render unto Caesar what is his; and also Romans 13 is all about respecting government authorities – if you live in the USA there should be no reason to disrespect the national anthem. They pay taxes don't they?

    June 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • JW

      Mennonites do pay taxes. They are not anarchists. Mennonites fulfill all of their obligations as a citizen. If all citizens are required to sing the national anthem that is a violation of freedom of speech

      June 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • DRT

      1.) The Bible also shows in Acts then when the government or other men try to COMPEL an individual to go against his God ordained conscience the correct reply would be "We (I) must obey God as ruler rather than man."

      2.) The Biblical example of the 3 Hebrew companions of Daniel who risked death rather then give allegiance or worship to a National symbol supports the Apostle's above statement.

      3.) Choosing not to sing a National Anthem or recite a Pledge of Allegiance or to respectfully sit still while others do is NOT in anyway disrespectful.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • chief

      so would it be better if they didnt pay taxes? then it would be ok and they would be like all those illegals from the south of us and the eurpeans and asians that live here and dont pay taxes and complain the whole time....

      June 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  6. Bruce

    A little history lesson to gain some perspective on our national anthem:

    Francis Scott Key wrote a poem called "Defence of Fort McHenry" in 1814 based on a battle he witnessed in the War of 1812. He didn't experience this war as a soldier, by the way, he was there as a lawyer negotiating the release of some prisoners. The poorly-written poem later became an even more poorly-written song with very little musical value, and it was NOT our national anthem officially until 1931, signed into law by President Hoover.

    While the first rendition of the anthem at a sporting event was during the 7th inning stretch of the 1918 World Series, it was not until WWII that the tradition of singing it at the beginning of each game came into being. Coincident to this was the evolution of the Pledge of Allegience, written in 1892 by a socialist flag maker trying to "innoculate" those dirty foreign-born immigrants whom he perceived as not patriotic enough and needed to be held to some sort of repeated pledge to remind them of their place. It wasn't officially our national pledge until 1942 (and in 1942 it didn't include the words, "under God," until Eisenhower signed a a new law into place in 1954). Placing your hand over your heart was a convention that happened in late 1942 (about 6 months after adoption), replacing what is now called the "Bellamy salute." Google that term and look at the images of children making this salute. It's quite an image...

    The national anthem, at least the notion that we should open up all of our sporting events with it, is a relatively recent phenomenon. It blossomed with the pledge at about the same time, during the McCarthy era and the red scare times, when our country was at a low point when it comes to political freedom. Those times, and the notions they fostered, are reflected in most of the so-called "patriotic" statements you see in these posts. The traditions of the national anthem and the national pledge are, perhaps ironically, not traditions of freedom. They are traditions of tyranny.

    Of course, most people don't even bother listening to the words of the Star Spangled Banner (very few know there is more than one verse to the poem), let alone learn anything resembling a history of these things. They are content to spew their anti-freedom rants and pro-patriotic bile like they are the next incarnation of Joseph McCarthy. We should perhaps ask them, "have you no shame?"

    June 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • chief

      yes it was written about 30 years before the Cherokee were slaughtered and rounded up like catlle to oklahoma to die,.... then the bonus was that the government implemented orphanges to remove all the culture of the kids..... for all the BS this country has done, i wish people would quit blaspheming God by attributing its success to Him and not the slaves or the people that lived here first.... the US made over 1500 treaties with the Indians..... they broke 1500,.... in God we trust

      June 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  7. JW

    Mennonites are very involved in volunteer work, community service, and disaster relief. I dont understand why just because they dont support a war people say they are not a part of this country. It is sad that war and violence is the most important part of our society.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  8. BilCat

    A very interesting and well written article. I can understand and empathize with the Mennonite beliefs and actions. Of course there are differences between the church I attend (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and the Mennonites buut I wholeheartedly agree that the focus should be on following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    As we come closer to Him (Christ) we realize that our differences are minuscule compared to our similarities.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Scott

      If the college in question takes no federal funds, and its students do not receive federal grants (i.e. Pell grants), then I am fine with it, but I bet that is not the case. If the school and the students are willing to accept federal funding, then they are not exercising the seperation of Church and State as they claim (since this college is owned by the Church as described above) and are only doing so on issues that don't directly benefit them, which is hypocritical at best. If they are going to exercise the moral highground by not paying respect to the Nation, then they should be consistent in that stance and not accept any federal funding.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  9. Bonnie Crawford

    This is a wonderful article. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state – anything else is dangerous. Whether one sings the national anthem or not is a freedom we still have (so far). Nationalism has done a lot of damage, and it would be better if people could think of themselves as citizens of the world. If people would care unselfishly about everyone and practice The Golden Rule among fellow citizens and among countries, we could transform the world.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Brian

    Then go live in that metaphorical Christian Nation – until then, respect that country which preserves you're right to be an ungrateful, holier-than-thou idiot

    June 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • BP

      Spoken like someone who doesn't understand the country he lives in.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @ BP
      I don't exactly see the flaw with Brian's comment. They are, in fact, being holier-than-thou and they could also be a bit more tactful.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • HPNIII

      They have said nor done anything disrespectful, nor shown they are ungrateful, nor are they holier than thou if you have ever met or delt with any of them, and they seem to have far less hate and far more education than what you have displayed.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  11. Mary Meehan

    Many thanks to Mark Schloneger for a brave and well-written piece.

    Many citizens would be happier with a national anthem that's not war-related and one that focuses on our country itself rather than the flag. Congress chose the "Star-Spangled Banner" as our national anthem in 1931; it certainly could choose another song instead. Other possibilities include: "America the Beautiful," "My Country 'tis of Thee," "God Bless America," and "This Land Is Your Land." Any one of them would be better–and much easier to sing.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  12. Pete

    Why bother to reason with people that ascribe their existence a magical being?

    June 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Pete if your goal is to convert every person of Faith you meet then you really have more in common with the Jahovah Witnesses that knock on our door.

      Best to learn to live and tolerate and coexist 🙂

      June 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said: Why bother to reason with people that ascribe their existence a magical being?

      I do it for a number of reasons. Trying to convince the person you are reasoning with, not being the most important. I don't do it (at all) to "win the argument", as that is virtually impossible.

      I do it because I find it educational and entertaining. Whether or not I agree with the beliefs, I might learn about what drives them to believe the way they do. It may open my perspective on religion and belief.

      I do it mostly on the off chance that there is someone out there reading these comments that is still on the fence regarding religion. Without a counter argument the discussion would be pretty one-sided. I hope to present a viewpoint grounded in evidence and rational thought.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  13. Marie Kidman


    June 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  14. Clu

    Nobody prays for peace more than a soldier.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • BP

      Agreed, but a soldier doesn't necessarily have to be in a nation's army.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • News Flash

      And the soldiers are not the leaders of the military/industrial complex, or their lobbyists, who need to keeps the funds coming in, and the corporate contracting businesses which make their billions on the backs of the taxpayers.

      June 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Clu

      @BP – Agreed, but a soldier is a part of something greater than themselves, yes? Othewise they're just vigilantes. 🙂

      @News Flash – Thank you for illustrating the point. Those who are asked to fight are rarely the ones who are doing the asking, agreed?

      June 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  15. Kabel

    Look at me, look at me, I am such a good Christian because I refuse to sing the Star Spangled Banner. I think that the most powerful being in existance will understand if you sing the nation anthiem. After all did Jesus not say, render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's and render unto God that which is God's? As a Christian I love my country, but my ultimate loyalty is to God and he knows that. So singing the Star Spangled Banner or saying the pledge of Allegiance is not an issue for me and it never has been. The strange thing is, the majority of the founding fathers of this nation were Christian and they didn't have a problem with it either. Heck it would be safe to say that the mass majority of Americans up until the 1940's didn't have a problem with it. So why is it such a big issue now?

    June 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Bruce

      Kabel, just so you know, neither the Star Spangled Banner nor the Pledge of Allegiance existed when the founding fathers of this country were alive.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • keith

      I render to caesar my citizenship, taxes and love of country. I render to God my worship and pledge of Allegience. It feels wrong to be required to stand, place my hand on my chest and turn toward an object while music is played.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bruce

      And just to be clear, while the poem written by Key existed in 1814 and some of those founding fathers were still alive, it wasn't the national anthem until 1931.

      The more you know!

      June 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Grant

      I will give to caesar what is caesar's – but what about standing at a pre-appointed time/signal, facing a symbol (the flag), covering your heart in respect, and singing a song to that symbol? What sort of ritual does that remind you of? To me, it brings up images of singing to an idol, and that is most definitely something which is spelled out clearly in scripture.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • thresher

      Goshen is not saying "look at me, look at me." It's the right-wing media that jumped all over the school's decision and publicized it - and which you are now propogating. Mark Schloneger was just responding to all the vitriol directed at Goshen and Mennonites.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Jessica

      Kabel, you're right that the majority of Christians don't have any problem with singing the national anthem. The majority of Christians in America come not from the Anabaptist spiritual lineage, but Protestant. Like the Catholics, the Protestants have always had a close relationship between church and state – "God and Country." They believe that America is a Christian nation blessed by God. The Anabaptist Christians suffered hundreds of years of intense persecution by the church wielding the power of the state, and have come to recognize the dangerous, unbiblical nature of such a union. We serve a higher power than the State. Since Jesus came to earth, God has had only one Kingdom, comprised of all believers everywhere. The value of this Kingdom is love and peace, rather than war. We love the country in which we live, but because of our Christian beliefs and our heritage, we cannot participate in its patriotic traditions or support its wars.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Clu

      Singing the National Anthem and placing your hand over your heart is a sign of respect for your country and those who fought for it. We don't worship our flag or our contry any more than we do our homes, but I certainly am thankful for having both and would fight to defend both.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Cathy W

      The majority of the founding fathers also believed in a strict separation of Church and state, and many of them were agnostics. Read your history.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Come on Now

      CLU – it is a sign of Worship......you better do some more research cause you don't have a clu.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • jwas1914

      Hello Kabel, I’ve read your comment in reference to singing the Star Spangled Banner or pledging allegiance to the flag. Most of the responses you received are true; but why? One of Jehovah God’s laws or commands that Satan frequently attempts to get God’s servants to break is this: “You must not have any other gods against my face. . . . You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Exodus 20:3-5) Jesus stated the command this way: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:10). Here is an example: King of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image and ordered for everyone to bow down and worship his image; if not death will come to those that refused. (Daniel 3:5, 6). Among those present were three Hebrew servants of Jehovah God, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. For their loyalty to God they received protection and blessings from Him. This was a deliberate attempt of Satan the Devil to get the three Hebrews to break God’s law by bowing to the State, the State’s image. Just as nations did in the days of ancient Babylon, so nations today set up emblems and command their citizens to salute, bow or perform other worshipful honors toward these. Regarding a prominent symbol of the nations in modern times, Catholic historian Carlton Hayes observes: “Nationalism’s chief symbol of faith and central object of worship is the flag, and curious liturgical forms have been devised for ‘saluting’ the flag, for ‘dipping’ the flag, for ‘lowering’ the flag, and for ‘hoisting’ the flag. Men bare their heads when the flag passes by; and in praise of the flag poets write odes and children sing hymns.” And just as obligation was laid upon citizens of ancient Babylon to bow before the image of the State, so in modern times nations often require that service or worship be paid to some State emblem or some human representative of the State. Even Jesus at one time withdrew himself from the presence of the people because they wanted to make him king. (John 6:15) This proves that true Christians do not partake in the political aspect of this world and remain neutral. I hope I was able to help you understand. Please read your Bible daily.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Kindness

      Jwas1914 Excellently said!!

      June 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Clu

      @COME ON NOW – I'm not sure what research needs to be done here. Frankly, it seems that worship is really a state of mind. If I'm singing a song in the car, then I'm singing it because I like it. If I sing the Star Spangled Banner, it's because I'm showing respect to this country. If I sing Amazing Grace, its because I'm showing my love of God. The song isn't the problem, its the state of mind that it's sung with. After all, all songs are just a collection of words to a rhythm, but its our emotional connection to them that make them special. So if singing the National Anthem to you is worship, then don't. But don't thumb your nose at others who don't share your viewpoint.

      Oh, and I love the 'Get a CLU' comment. Very witty.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  16. Glenn Lehman

    i often have the same thoughts. Thanks for putting them so succintly.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  17. keith

    Please help me remember which war was fought for religious freedom?

    June 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • keith

      and remind me where in the Bible it teaches to kill others for the right to worship in "freedom"

      June 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Normon

      Please help me... what's your point?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • keith

      So many here saying that Mennonites should sing the national anthem because of the blood shed in wars to give them religious freedom. I question the premise because most if not all of the wars fought by our country were not about religious freedom. So why should a religious group feel bad about not worshiping a piece of cloth that symbolizes "freedoms". Even if wars were fought for religious freedom, is that a defensible position based on the Bible?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Clu

      The colonists left Brittain because of unfair taxation, parlimentary rule and ideological divides between the colonists and the controlling rule of the aristocracy. Among these divides was the idea that a true society ought to have a singular religion.

      While it was certainly not the only reason, an not even the main reason, America was founded on these freedoms to believe as you wish (And of course, No taxation without representation). So, ultimately, the Revolutionary War was fought to maintain our independance from Brittain and thus, to maintain the freedoms of each person to believe as they wish without mandate by any government (This the separation between the three branches of our government).

      So, the short answer is the Revolutionary War.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Normon

      Actually I was being somewhat sarcastic, but you did clarify your statements. I would guess, (since I don't agree with it) that they were talking primarily about the Revolutionary war, which, by way of freedoms in general, was fought for freedom of religion as well. Also, in a larger sense, all wars where theoretically fought to protect this country and all the freedoms we as a nation protect.

      I wouldn't consider the pledge or the national anthem to be worship, just respect and honoring the ideas, although the pledge is a 'pledge of allegiance.' I can understand some people's refusal to recite a pledge to anything, and yet I can and do also disagree with them.

      Your question about where in the Bible is a defense of fighting war for freedom of religion is misplaced, I think. I don't think the Bible should be used as the basis for anything, and furthermore I would think the Bible, if anything, would make a case *against* freedom of religion, since it is the only true religion, right? Oh, it wouldn't say, 'kill the infidel', at least not blatantly in New Testament, but nowhere that I can think of does it state anything about defending people's right to follow their own religion. Isn't freedom to choose your own religion anti-thetical to the Bible?

      June 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • keith

      Not sure, but I believe religion was brought into the revolutionary war as a way to stir up support for the military actions against taxation just as God was added to the pledge at the beginning of the cold war. Whatever the case many of those good Christians who pledged allegiance to the King, changed their mind and later opposed the King over taxation without representation. Some early american christians refused to assist the rebels because of their prior assurance to the King that they would support Him. It is funny that again the Mennonites are being castigated for refusing to bow to state religion (nationalism) when in fact it was the early anabaptists that broke away from the church state (catholic and lutheran) and were actually tortured and killed for that position as well.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  18. Punkass

    Still dont understand what their problem with singing the national anthem is. Probably due to the fact he didnt explain why he just talked about his religon but forgot the correlation.

    June 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bruce

      It's a religious school, founded by a religion that believes in separation of church and state. A school function, being a religious school, is ultimately a religious function by extension. To start the function off with the national anthem places a symbolic tie between the function and the nation, which places that same tie between the church and the state.

      If they believe in a separation, then they are correct to hold true to their beliefs and not create a symbolic tie, because a tie is the opposite of a separation.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Jessica

      Good explanation, Bruce.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  19. James Romer

    One thing i would like to add is that Religion sure has saved lives but since it's upbringing from even the beginning there has always been death, politics, morale wrong doings, and altering of human life of free will. It has been a scare tactic to make people think if they do not live their life the way someone interpreted a books then you will not be accepted into the afterlife. And if so, what happens to the people who live on islands alone or in deserts who don’t hear the word of a God. Do they not move on to the afterlife or are they forgiven due to not being informed. I believe it is time to let people follow their hearts and not the word of mouth. I believe in Karma and it has been blissful. Do right to others and maybe it will come back in turn. God doesn’t stop people from drinking or cure them from a illness or straighten their lives. Faith is a part of believing. But Take faith away and I see a life placebo. The mind and the actions of others is what keep us strong not religion. God doesn’t keep you safe on the way to work. The Flow and understanding of how to stay safe if what keeps people from dying. I don’t believe god killed my sister at the age of 6 from brain cancer, genetics did. Faith in god didn’t keep her alive longer than she was supposed to, doctors and the support of family and myself kept her alive longer to enjoy more memories in life and to have her here a little longer. I don’t think god has a plan for everyone. If so then your life is already predetermined. And no matter what you do it won’t change. I have been taught god has no control of free will of life so how can this be contradicted?

    June 27, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • David Johnson

      @James Romer

      You said "I don’t think god has a plan for everyone. If so then your life is already predetermined. And no matter what you do it won’t change. I have been taught god has no control of free will of life so how can this be contradicted?"

      Christians say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?

      The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.
      See the problem?

      If God knows the future, if the future can be known, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.
      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

      Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.
      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

      When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will.

      Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.
      The fulfillment of a prophecy cannot be left to random chance.

      What about the child who is murdered by a monster, or a people slaughtered by a stronger opponent (or a god)?
      Did they choose to be harmed? Where was their free will? These acts show that the strong or the people in power have greater free will than their victims. Hmmm... See how this fits in with the free will / god exists thingy?

      If god has a "plan for each of us", if there is an agenda, then that pretty much rules out free will.

      Jeremiah 29:11
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

      "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]

      You might argue, that while god has a plan for each of us, He doesn't force us to follow this plan. The problem with this argument, is that if a person does not follow god's plan, it may affect my ability to follow god's plan. A drunk driver may run me down. A robber may shoot me.

      Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The 5 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god.

      There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will.

      Humans have free will not because of god, but because god does not exist.


      June 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  20. Lobos

    Over 4,000 comments proving that religious people are intolerant narrow-minded totalitarians who demand obedience to their ideology and nationalists are intolerant narrow-minded totalitarians who demand obediance to their ideology.

    I think I will remain non-religious and cosmopolitan. The people are much nicer – and more sane.

    June 27, 2011 at 11:34 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.