Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Seattle Pacific University Conflicted Over Pledge, Flag, Anthem for Veterans Day

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Tomorrow is Veterans Day.

We thank and honor them for their service---for protecting our freedom and liberty.

However, Seattle's Q13 Fox TV reported last week that Seattle Pacific University will not be including the presenting of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance or singing of the National Anthem at their chapel service on Nov. 10 (today).

Q13 reported, "The organizers decided not to include the Pledge of Allegiance and the presentation of colors during the November 10 chapel service, given that there are diversity of views on campus whether such elements should be part of a Christian worship service."

I took personal note because our family, as many other Northwest families, have a history with SPU.

One of our daughters graduated from SPU. I once served as Special Assistant to the President at SPU.

Q13 reported last week, "The 'Students for Military Veterans Support' club want the presenting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance included in the program."

SPU told Q13, "Those events can't be included because the event is being held in the campus church, First Free Methodist."

The student group said, "We should be able to pledge allegiance to the flag inside our own church, in our own house of worship [for] the same people who died for that same right."

By last Friday, news sources were reporting, "Seattle Pacific University overturned a controversial decision Friday, and will allow an American flag and the pledge of allegiance at a Veterans Day ceremony in its chapel."

The University said their original decision had been driven by a handful of faculty and students.

Seattle Pacific University released this statement on Friday:

On Tuesday, November 10, SPU will hold a Veterans Day Ceremony and Chapel on campus, organized by University Ministries and a group of faculty and student leaders representing veterans. 
The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. in First Free Methodist Church and will include the Pledge of Allegiance, the presentation of colors, and the singing of the national anthem. The ceremony will be followed by a chapel worship service. Retired Navy Reserve Captain and Associate Professor of History Rod Stiling will speak, and SPU veterans will participate in the service. Those attending the service are invited to bring a photo of a friend or family member who is currently serving or has served in the military. A poster board will be available to post photos, and a prayer will be offered for those pictured in the military collage.
We regret that our initial decision about our Veterans Day service caused so much misunderstanding. It was never our intent to dishonor our veterans or their service to our country.

The Veterans Day Ceremony is today at 11 AM in the Free Methodist Church on campus.

Seattle Pacific University does indeed have a diversity of students. While 43% of incoming Freshmen are from out of state, the students and faculty represent more than 50 different Christian denominations.

SPU has, or at least has had in the past, reciprocal agreements with a variety of colleges, including some Quaker schools.

Quakers, as you likely know, are generally pacifist. Their conscience based on religious beliefs does not allow them to participate in war.

I would suspect there may also be views other than those of Quakers or conscientious objection involved in the opposition toward the flag and the pledge during chapel service.

In honoring our veterans, we are honoring people who put their lives on the line to protect the religious beliefs of all of us, including those who, by virtue of their beliefs, cannot or will not participate in the ugly task of war.

That is why America has been the greatest, most free nation in the history of the world.

However, while all religious beliefs must be protected, those who cannot participate in the defense of that freedom must not be allowed to diminish honoring those who believe it is their duty to defend freedom and liberty.

Regardless of what caused SPU to reverse their decision, they should be applauded for doing the right thing.

A powerful and famous story comes to mind. Although some professors and theologians have attempted to discredit the story, the evidence and documentation overwhelmingly support it.

We know the story and the portrait as "George Washington in prayer at Valley Forge."

Isaac Potts was 26 years old, a resident of Valley Forge, and as a Quaker, opposed to the Revolutionary War. Because of his religious beliefs he objected to all war---and he later said he didn't think Washington's army had a chance against England anyway.

He tells the story of how he was riding in the woods when he saw the "army of Washington" spread across the grassy plain. It was, he said, the most distressing time of the war, because they were "all giving up the ship."

He says that's when he heard "a plaintive sound, as of man at prayer." He says, "I tied my horse to a sapling and went quietly into the woods and to my astonishment I saw George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was in a crises, for the cause of the country, of humanity, and of the world."

Potts says, "Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him praying, I went home and told my wife, 'I saw and heard today what I never saw or heard before', and just related to her what I had seen and heard and observed. We never thought a man could be a soldier and a Christian, but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. We thought it was the cause of God, and America would prevail."

Following this encounter Isaac Potts changed political parties and put his full support behind the war for freedom, and later served as a senator in his state.

It is likely that the prayers Isaac Potts heard Washington pray were very close to the words of a letter he sent to Congress in December 1777.

I am talking about that letter today on the radio. Join me from anywhere in the world, live at 9 AM PST, or the rebroadcast at 7:30 PM PST. Here's how.

Prayer changes things. God always hears the prayers of His people. Sometimes the act of praying itself changes those who observe.

Be Prayerful. Be Faithful. Be Bold. Be Blessed.