Your Take: Comments on faith-based opposition to the national anthem
June 27th, 2011
03:04 PM ET

Your Take: Comments on faith-based opposition to the national anthem

Yesterday's post about a Mennonite pastor’s faith-based reasons for not singing the "Star Spangled-Banner" drew more than 4,000 comments.

Mark Schloneger, a Mennonite pastor and an alum of Goshen College - which recently decided to forego the singing of the national anthem at sporting events - described how his religion's teachings on separation of church and state lead to the decision to skip the anthem.

Some readers agreed with the author's view and defended the Mennonite faith:

As an agnostic, a wife of an Active Duty Marine for over 20 years and mother of two Active Duty Marines, I thought the author did a great job getting to the nuance of the reason behind the decision and also on giving some insight into Anabaptists. It is a faith-based decision stemmed in beliefs older than the US. I don't feel the author is any less patriotic than I am or the Mennonite Church is any less or more Christian than any other Christ-based denomination, they are just offering a different perspective on some things.

I too am a Mennonite. I understand Mark's desire to separate church and state, and can understand that his church may want to express this desire by not singing Star Spangled Banner in the church or the denominational school.

Lisa and Don
In reference to Mennonites being a cult, they are very mainstream and don't differ a whole lot from Presbyterian or Baptist. Our focus is on PEACE above all, is that so wrong? The remarks and opinions of our pastor, a highly tech savvy and intelligent person who has traveled the world in the mission field are justified. He goes to work, takes care of his family, pays his taxes, obeys the law, and drives an Accord not a buggy. And just as he is our pastor, and it is our church, we can disagree anytime we want and still feel right at home. For the church is not God, just a family of believers, and like any family, can have a diverse mix.

Others, including some Christians, defended the singing of the national anthem. Some said it comported just fine with Christianity:

"...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."

I agree with most of your opinion. You don't want to sing the anthem? Good on you. You love your country and your God? Good on you. But that previous statement is a bit much. If the cross is what provides freedom, why has it been cause of so much death and destruction? Why are there so many countries who base their governments off of the cross that do not grant their citizens freedom? I was raised a Christian. I think that core Christian values are similar to the values of almost all religions; good ideals for any person to follow. I think the majority of Christians are good people, just like I think the majority of all people are good people.

But I do know that there is the minority, who are bad people, and will take measures to take away freedom. The sad and simple truth is, these measures are not stopped by a cross. Unfortunately, they are stopped with the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air. To say what you said in that statement is to greatly disrespect every man or woman who has ever lost their life fighting to protect the freedom of others.

The Star Spangled Banner was written to commemorate the triumph of the U.S. over the British during the Battle of Baltimore Harbor. Francis Scott Key composed it after seeing OUR flag still flying over Ft. McHenry following an intense battle. Our national anthem is testimony to God's protection over us. I agree, God is the giver of freedom. However, many countries have taken away that right from its citizens. Every time our anthem is sung, we honor God who gave us the freedom and the brave men and women of our military who have sacrificed their lives so that we may retain it.

I am a Christian, and I do put God first in my life. However, I am also a citizen of the United States, and as a citizen I have responsibilities to my country. Singing a national anthem does not imply my devotion to my country is greater than my devotion to my God. There are no laws in the United States that coerce me to put country ahead of my God, or for that matter to sin against my God. In fact, that is what the national anthem in the United States is all about...singing about the survival of a country, or an idea the country was founded on, which allows me the freedom to put my God first.

Others challenged the author's assertion that a true separation of church and state prevents Mennonites from singing the national anthem:

Sandy Fleming
I get separation of Church and state, but a football stadium is not a Church. If Mennonites do not want to have a flag in their church no problem. Explain to me where separation starts. Obviously not at the doors of the Church. If you believe this to be true you should not play sports against and state schools or accept any tax breaks from the state.

So what you're saying is you can't be Christian and patriotic at the same time?

Hey Mark, it's this type of thinking that divides nations and creates civil unrest.
And can't we believe in god without all the drama religions create in society?

- Liane Membis

Filed under: Church and state

soundoff (128 Responses)
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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.