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)
  1. Lisa

    Pastor Schloneger,
    Why did you write this hate piece? I call it a hate piece because church and state are already separated. So you want your opinion heard. Who are you? You are just like everyone else who can either sing it or not. No one cares what you think. They print this stuff to stir the pot and their advertisers are happy. What an ego you have.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  2. Mike

    What difference does it make, who sings and who doesn't? Frankly, the tune is crappy and I can't hit half the notes. Now I know that if I don't sing to save your ears, at least some of you are going to think I'm not patriotic. Fine. Different people believe different things, and THAT is what our great country is all about. A show of patriotism is not required to be a good citizen, just like a show of prayer doesn't make a good Christian. It's your day to day actions that matter.

    July 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  3. BoDacious01

    Noooooooooooo.......Atheist are flying flags over the country saying GodLess USA and a Christian is NOT singing the National Anthem?? I think.....my.....yep...my cat just barked and my dog just purred....please God make things right.

    July 3, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  4. James Vlisides

    I applaud Mark for maintaining this separation between the duty of the government, and the duty of his church. It is obviously a controversial idea to refrain from submitting to a tradition that highlights an irresponsible devotion to a blood-soaked path to freedom, and even further to a Christian dominated nation.
    I believe Mark is making a bold first step toward a HEALTHY relationship between the church and state, not allowing his privileged position as a Christian to overrule his pursuit of freedom and peace within our diverse nation.

    July 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Jimbo

      @mark..... Seperation of church and state wasn't written to keep our leaders from making decisions based on their faith. It was written to keep the state from telling us how to worship God like they were doing in England. That is why our founding fathers came to America, to be able to worship God the way He was meant to be worshiped. Our fore fathers actually made decisions based on their faith in God. They spoke of Him and Jesus as well in many, many of their speaches. Taking Him out of our government will lead us to the condition our country is in today.

      July 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  5. Marie Kidman


    July 1, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  6. Serena

    The one practical thing that Jesus did was overturn the tables of the money lenders. They got back and perpetrated the biggest hoax in the history of mankind that has gotten two billion people worshiping a man instead of the Creator.
    The second biggest hoax they created, to enslave the gentiles, is called the IMF, WB and Federal Reserve

    July 1, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  7. Ed

    And do we really have to idolize the cross as well?

    July 1, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  8. Bernie

    WOW, one more supossed to be educated misguided out of touch person, it's good to follow your dreams however, you got to wake up. This guy has possibily lost his common sense in books.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  9. True Friend

    CNN, won't you bring the news of discovery of new galaxies or planets or the surface of Marcury in the religion section? American politics is boring. Whoever you elect, if America does not repent and stop infanticide and Sodomy, Daniel 2 will be sooner than you think. Report on N. Korea, too, as much as possible, if you truly care about the Holocaust vistims.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  10. AGuest9

    So, about the ISS being evacuated this AM. No news on that yet?

    June 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  11. AGuest9

    I remember my mother telling me about how people were so against JFK, because he would "take orders from Rome". What scares me is seeing more and more of this fundamentalist nonsense. They feel that they can tell science and any other form of order that they don't have to do something because their favorite pulpit-pounder said so on Sunday morning. This is really getting bizarre. We're rapidly turning into the Middle East!

    June 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Zelda

    I know CNN plots against me because I speak the truth. They cannot handle a real Christian.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Zelda

      CNN is out to get me. So is Fox and MSNBC. It's a conspiracy. The Weekly World News and National inquirer have recruited my cat to spy on me – I see how it looks at me! My parrot – he's not really dead; he's just pining for the fjords – is actually transmitting everything about me to the Weekly World News spy satellite that is geosynchronously located over my head at all times. I know what you are doing, you evil people!

      They have a cameras everywhere. I don't watch TV; TV watches me. There's microphones hidden in bananas and my meat loaf – I rip them to shreds, but they must use really tiny microphones. But I know they are there.

      Only God will save me from this atheist conspiracy! It's a good thing he made me sane.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Zelda

      Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

      June 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Artist

      Zelda aka Adelina or HeavenSent ,,, jesus christ get some help!
      Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.
      As the illness continues, psychotic symptoms develop:
      • False beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality (delusions)
      • Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)

      June 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • True Friend

      The above 3 Zelda are fakes. Atheists are insane and evil.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • True Friend

      Actually I found the 2nd Zelda's first and second paragraphs amusing. Thanks for the good laugh. I'm old and I'm not familiar with computer. Atheists, if you have time to waste, study Christianity seriously. You can live as if all other religions do not exist in this world, but not Christianity. It teaches eternal consequences which is accurate with reality. Therefore, stop the madman-like blasphemies and take life seriously before it becomes too late. Mockers only get punishment, nothing else. Read the Bible.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Zelda

      True Friend is not a friend of Zelda. They plot against me.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  13. TheRationale

    Trumpet separation of church and state.

    Refuse to sing national anthem for religious reasons.

    Does anyone else see the glaring hypocrisy in this logic?

    June 28, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  14. Joel

    Kudos to the Pastor for speaking his mind, but there is a better reason for not singing the anthem. Overuse of symbols and songs about America were on the rise during the Red Scare and the rest of the Cold War, where we tried to prove how much we loved our country by singing. This has carried over even after the Soviets are gone, and now the conservative, fear-mongering people of America seems to have a monopoly on patriotism because they sing more often and wave more flags (remember the whole Obama flag-pin nonsense in '08?). Patriotism should not be about these things, it should be about helping your country become strong where it is weak. Older generations may be attached to songs that were seared into their brains as kids, but for 20-somethings like myself who grew up after the Cold War, we have no attachment to such silliness.

    June 28, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  15. Reality

    One more time, Mennonites- too much inbreeding


    Next topic!!!

    June 28, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  16. Mike


    June 28, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  17. Zelda

    It's so difficult to type when I am wearing a straight jacket. I have to peck with my nose like a chicken. To capitalize, I have to stick my tongue out hit the shift key as my nose hits the letter. But I have lots of time to practice.

    June 28, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • Zelda

      The above Zelda is a fake.

      June 28, 2011 at 6:23 am |
    • Zelda

      Both Zeldas above are fake. Those responsible for the faking have been sacked.

      June 28, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Friend

      The 3rd Zelda is a fake.

      June 28, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Zelda

      All the Zeldas are fakes. Those responsible for the sacking have been sacked.

      June 28, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Friend

      I am Zelda and know for a fact who the fakes are.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm |

      A Møøse once bit my sister

      June 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Zelda

      Don't believe Friend. I am the real Zelda. All the others are fakes.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Ghân-buri-Ghân

    I fart in their general direction!
    And I make the evil gesture of cursing at them using all three fingers!
    They will find themselves with no god to speak to now!
    I have spoken! Bwahahaha!

    June 28, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  19. jdenishuggard

    hello all-mrs bachman-helluva break from the clintons who love living off taxpayers[for 40 years]michele obama spoke @great stength to south african womem[blacks]helluva delivery-damm good-the glass ceiling is crunbling-good for michele-we need vision,clarity,saudis are battling women driving autos-christ they have 15,000 princes doing nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!yikes-usa must get rid of fuel expemse-get their countryback-NOW-canada ready to send 6,000,000bpd oil to texas refineries-by cnr rail-eliminates protests/jdenishuggard@hotmail.com

    June 28, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Just Asking

      Why are right-wingnuts always so illiterate?

      June 28, 2011 at 3:49 am |
    • Bill C

      Just Asking: Unfortunately, we can't all be as enlightened as you.

      June 28, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Just Asking

      I realize the not all people can be as enlightened as someone who can put a coherent thought into some properly written sentences, but why is it that ALL of the right-wingnuts are so glaringly illiterate?

      June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • True Friend

      The liberals may be perfect in spelling and grammar, but their content is empty. They have nothing worth to say.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  20. Zelda

    CNN, thank you, I was able to log out. Please don't do this again. I know many atheists want me to shut up, but if you want that way too, just let me know. This is your site. I appreciate you for enabling this free interaction. Won't you put the religion section in international site so people can talk to non-Americans?

    June 28, 2011 at 1:38 am |
1 2 3
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.