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Anthem Absolutism Drives NAIA Tournament from Branson to Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls gets to host the NAIA Division II men’s basketball championships for the next couple years. Yay, sport.

The first tournament happens at the Sanford Pentagon this coming March, on the 7th through the 13th. That’s pretty short notice for a national tournament. During that period, the Sanford Pentagon calendar currently lists a Skyforce game and the March Mayhem youth basketball tournament.

Sioux Falls has landed this lucrative schedule change because the Sioux Falls Sports Authority and co-hosts Dakota State University and Northwestern College aren’t as persnickety about forced displays of patriotism as College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, which had hosted the contest for 18 years and was slated to host again in 2018 but told NAIA to beat it when the organization refused to require athletes to stand for the National Anthem:

C of O President Jerry Davis said in a news release that the school requested to develop a forum to discuss the issue with players and coaches prior to the beginning of the tournament.

“Unfortunately, the executive committee of the Council of Presidents refused to create a policy or hold a forum,” Davis said in the release. “As a result, the College felt that its concerns were not taken seriously by the committee and requested that the tournament be moved. The College is willing to help with the move to another venue.”

…“The NAIA missed the opportunity to take a stand,” Davis said in the release. “They refused to craft a simple policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem. The NAIA’s refusal demonstrates a lack of moral clarity on a significant national issue.

“Their decision contradicts their own character emphasis that identifies respect as a key trait, and we believe they are missing a golden opportunity to teach student-athletes about the honor due our country and its Veterans” [Wyatt D. Wheeler, “Anthem Protest Policy Moves NAIA Basketball Tournament Away from College of the Ozarks,” Springfield (MO) News-Leader, 2017.11.27].

The Christian college’s determination to require everyone express patriotism according to the college’s rules will cost Branson and the Ozarks region millions of dollars in economic impact. (Sioux City boosters claim recent NAIA D-2 women’s basketball tournaments have generated between $9.5 million and $17 million in economic activity.) The college also tramples on good theology by requiring all freshmen to take a military science class to make all of its students appreciate “the most successful military organization in the world.” The C of O student handbook also makes the theologically problematic claim that “Christ-like character” includes being “patriotic.” Funny—I don’t recall any Scriptural mention of Jesus standing up for any Roman anthems.

NAIA basketball fans and Christians alike will surely cheer Sioux Falls and South Dakota for providing a more liberal, inclusive venue that respects the diverse ideas and freedom of expression of student athletes.

Related Reading:

The American flag is performing the exact same function for NFL spectators that the Artemis statues performed for the people of Ephesus. The National Anthem is being used as a pious hymn that turns the spectacle of male gladiators beating each other up into a legitimate religious ceremony. The early fathers of the Christian church would have zero ambivalence about our duties as Christians to declare Jesus as Lord in the face of obvious idolatry. When they chose to nonviolently kneel rather than hailing Caesar’s statue, they were thrown to the lions. No early Christian would stand for our national anthem [Morgan Guyton, “When It Became My Duty Not to Stand for the National Anthem,” Patheos: Progressive Christian, 2017.09.23].

17 Comments

  1. OldSarg 2017-11-18

    Maybe it’s better for the businesses in Branson have the thieves moved to Sioux Falls for the tournament. Do you think Sioux Falls will release the thieves to Trump like China did? Somebody should also warn the Uber/Lyft drivers there are athletes in town. With fewer drivers on the road the sexual deviants may be too tired from walking to commit sexual assaults.

  2. Concerned Citizen 2017-11-18

    “NAIA basketball fans and Christians alike will surely cheer Sioux Falls and South Dakota for providing a more liberal, inclusive venue that respects the diverse ideas and freedom of expression of student athletes.”

    Except it’s my understanding that DSU student athletes are NOT allowed freedom of expression during the national anthem at sporting events. So kudos to the NAIA. Maybe they can influence DSU’s view of this.

  3. Ben Cerwinske 2017-11-18

    UCLA plays in the NCAA not the NAIA OldSarg.

  4. Rorschach 2017-11-18

    The College of the Ozarks seems to have set the flag up as a false idol to be worshiped. While demanding respect for the flag, the college has discounted the idea of showing respect for other viewpoints. Essentially they are saying, “You need to respect what we want you to. We don’t have to respect your first amendment rights to peaceful protest.”

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-18

    CC, what informs that understanding? Has DSU issued some written directive on anthem beahvior?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-18

    False idol—bingo, Ror.

    Also, false patriotism:

    Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

    …If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein [Justice Robert Jackson, 1946, quoted by Jeffrey Toobin, “Colin Kaepernick and a Landmark Supreme Court Case,” The New Yorker, 2016.09.15].

    My love of my country (and, I suspect, Colin Kaepernick’s) is bigger than any other American’s symbolic display of support or dissent.

  7. John 2017-11-18

    The pious clothe worshippers will rush to the SD legislature in January to force coercion. The difference between the clothe worshippers and their coercion and the national socialists criminals is but a tiny ‘nth of a degree. They both want to think for you.

  8. Kurt Evans 2017-11-18

    I’d originally written this several years ago:

    I’d like to try to explain some things about libertarianism to my fellow Christians. It’s generally none of our business what Muslims and homosexuals and drug abusers do. We can tell them what the Bible says, but if they still don’t want to change, we’re better off just leaving them alone.

    The thirteenth chapter of Romans seems to suggest government should avenge crimes of aggression such as theft, violence and defamation. Broad attempts to use government coercion to micromanage people’s lives and force non-Christians to act like Christians, on the other hand, don’t work, and they have high social and economic costs.

    Maybe we Christians ought to be thanking God for a nation where sins like drug abuse, religious deception and consensual sexual immorality usually go unpunished, because government with more power to take away other people’s freedom is government with more power to take away ours.

    College of the Ozarks wasn’t using government force, but it was seeking to micromanage the behavior of non-Christians in a way that would seem to violate the Golden Rule as stated by Christ in Luke 6:31.

    I believe patriotism is a traditional Protestant virtue, and I’ve always stood at attention for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem, but if anyone ever tried to coerce me into doing so, I’d probably consider it my patriotic duty to exit the venue.

  9. Donald Pay 2017-11-18

    “I believe patriotism is a traditional Protestant virtue….” Uh, if you believe this, you are wrong. Even in Luther’s time there came to be so many different strands of “Protestantism” that you can’t seriously make such a broad statement. After all, peasants who followed Luther’s theology revolted against the Princes, even though Luther himself more or less figured out, as Catholism did in the Roman Empire, that religion and the state married together mean that the elite don’t get killed. Perhaps it’s an interpretation of what “patriotism” is, too. I find the kneelers far more patriotic than thoshe demanding, Hitler-like, that people stand for the anthem.

  10. grudznick 2017-11-18

    Luther? The Kneelers? I’m not sure the Catholics are any more patriotic than the Lutherans, or for that matter the Methodists, Mr. Pay. I knew some pretty patriotic Methodists, back in the day.

  11. Roger Cornelius 2017-11-18

    My religion is more patriotic than your religion.
    Perhaps we should ask Trump to weigh in.

  12. Kurt Evans 2017-11-18

    Donald Pay writes to me:

    Uh, if you believe [patriotism is a traditional Protestant virtue], you are wrong.

    Actually I’m not.

    Even in Luther’s time there came to be so many different strands of “Protestantism” that you can’t seriously make such a broad statement.

    My statement doesn’t refer to everyone who conveniently identified with “Protestantism” in Luther’s time.

    After all, peasants who followed Luther’s theology revolted against the Princes …

    Luther said the peasants who revolted didn’t generally follow his theology.

    … even though Luther himself more or less figured out, as Catholism did in the Roman Empire, that religion and the state married together mean that the elite don’t get killed.

    A union between religion and the state doesn’t mean the elite never get killed.

  13. Richard Schriever 2017-11-19

    Mr. Evans – the protestants (Puritans) that migrated to the new world were NOT doing so out of a sense of patriotic submission to the crown. The root word of protestant is – after all – PROTEST.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-19

    I’ll allow the idea that there are many traditional Protestants who also happen to be patriotic. I will contest any suggestion that active patriotism has a valid Christian theological basis. Jesus and Paul advised the early Christians to pay their taxes and obey the law, but that was to keep from getting thrown to the lions, not to exhort believers to celebrate the Empire as patriots would… or as the College of the Ozarks freshmen are being trained to do in their required military science class.

  15. cc too 2017-11-19

    The players at DSU have definitely been told that they are not allowed to kneel, sit, not be on the field or protest in any way. The President of DSU issued a statement about the unpatriotic nature of not standing for the anthem in one of her newsletters to the entire campus a year or more ago.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-19

    Anyone have a copy of that newsletter?

    Curious: why don’t we sing the National Anthem when they enter class, or before campus assemblies, or before concerts, plays, or graduation?

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