Dedicated to the Fighting Patriots of Goshen College

“Pacifists are the last and least excusable on the list of the  enemies of society. They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman  to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near  a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.”

                                                     G.K. Chesterton

I just hope the version with lyrics below will not be deemed too militaristic:

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. I will not defend the Goshenites on moral or political grounds but they are right that “The Star Spangled Banner” is a horrible song and “America the Beautiful” is far superior. It is unsingable and if you put a gun to the average American’s head I doubt he could explain what the lyrics refer to.

    If we had no anthem and we taking nominations I doubt the “Star Spangled Banner” would even occur to anyone. I would go for “God Bless America” (shot down by the deophobes), “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (unacceptable to Southerners) or “America the Beautiful”.
    I hadn’t thought of “Ain’t that America” — it does seem a bit informal but it would be cool to her it sung at the Olympics!

  2. The unofficial anthem of the country was the forgettable tune Hail Columbia until 1931, and is now used when the Vice President stumbles into view.

    If the Star Spangle Banner could not be our national anthem, I would stump for some variant of the moving hymn Eternal Father:


    In regard to the Star Spangled Banner your critque Thomas is not an uncommon one. For myself, when I hear it I get goose bumps and when I attempt to sing it, and it is a difficult song to sing, I have a grand time. Time for an encore of the Cactus Cuties:

  3. Don:

    With all do due respect have you examined the Mennonite’s rational for this refusal to play the national anthem beyond what the talking heads on Fox News may have said.
    I found the following article from a Mennonite minister and found it very compelling:


    The minister states:

    “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.”

    There is nothing in their rational that contradicts Catholic teaching or is not consistent with Catholic teachings. It is not inconsistent with the Church where there are not U.S. flags in the sanctuary or where secular patriotic songs are not sung during a Mass. It is not inconsistent with the Church which made Saint Maria Goretti, the patron saint of forgiveness, one of the most important saints after WWII. It is not inconsistent with the Church in which Pope Pius XI when proclaiming the Feast of Christ the King said:

    “ The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God’s religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result.”

  4. Oh, I am quite familiar with the pacificism of the Mennonites and other minor Protestant sects Eva. They enjoy freedom and peace here in the United States due to others throughout our history paying with their blood. Other than those who are willing to risk their lives as medics in a non-combatant role, Seventh Day Adventist Desmond T. Doss, awarded the medal of honor, is a shining example, I share Chesterton’s contempt for their doctrine.

    I believe that the Catechism amply demonstrates that pacificism is a doctrine foreign to Catholicism:

    “2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.”

  5. “It is not inconsistent with the Church where there are not U.S. flags in the sanctuary or where secular patriotic songs are not sung during a Mass.”

    Actually I have never lived in a parish where patriotic songs such as America the Beautiful, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and others were not sung on occasion during Mass. When I was a boy it was the custom in most parishes to have the US flag and the Vatican flag in the sanctuary, and some still do this.

  6. The practice is very common hereabouts. There is a variation of it in Anglican parishes as well. I have never cared for it.

    And I think your ‘contempt’ is overdone. Mennonites and Amish make a point of living very much apart from the larger society and partake of it as little as they can manage to earn a living. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not abstain to that degree, but they very seldom manifest much in the way of personal ambition. I think the question you have to ask is the degree to which they are truly detached from their lives when push comes to shove. It is difficult to know that in advance. (I think with politically-engaged Quakers, you are on firmer ground).

  7. “Mennonites and Amish make a point of living very much apart from the larger society and partake of it as little as they can manage to earn a living. ”

    The Amish I grant you Art, but much less so the Mennonites. My point still stands however that their lives here would be impossible but for others shouldering the burden they are unwilling to shoulder.

  8. I like “Hail Columbia”. I, for one, am sorry to see it relegated to such a state in which it currently suffers.

    That said, my preference for the National Anthem would definitely be “America the Beautiful” …

    … but only if they always played THIS version of it:

    “…and y’all? ought to love Him for it…”

    (While I do appreciate the “Star-Spangled Banner” for what it is, the melody is a too-difficult-to-sing drinking song titled “To Anachreon in Heaven”, and the subject matter is rather limited to the flag as opposed to the Nation the flag represents. “America the Beautiful” – listen to ALL the verses – captures the essence of this Nation.)

  9. I would have to vote for “America the Beautiful” also, not only for the elegant simplicity of its melody but also its better lyrics — for example, contrast Verse 3 of Star Spangled Banner:

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
    A home and a country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    with Verse 3 of America the Beautiful:

    O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife.
    Who more than self their country loved
    And mercy more than life!
    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine
    Till all success be nobleness
    And every gain divine!

  10. The fourth stanza Elaine of the Star Spangled Banner I have always found very moving:

    O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  11. My favorite verse of America the Beautiful, until Dan Rather ruined it for me, was always this one:

    O beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam
    Undimmed by human tears.
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea.

  12. Love this verse, too (in fact, the entire song is just a wonderful reflection on the Nation and really should be our National Anthem):

    O beautiful for pilgrim feet
    Whose stern impassion’d stress
    A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    Across the wilderness.
    America! America!
    God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    Thy liberty in law.

  13. Agree with Chesterton – he certainly knew how to put things.
    Pacifism – the last retreat for the coward. Afraid they don’t get any sympathy from me. I get annoyed by people who try to say , “Jesus was a pacifist.” (gag) One does not need to be a pacifist to promote and love peace, but one has to have a sacrificial heart to live Peace.

    I think “The Star Spangled Banner” is a tremendously stirring song. That is what national anthems should do – inspire patriotism and pride in one’s country – prepared to defend the country and all its people from agressors etc. etc.

    “I vow to Thee my Country” was actually taken from the 1999 Rugy World Cup theme song in Wales, wasn’t it? 😉
    A local musician has used the tune to a beautiful hymn to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Its a great piece of music.
    Actually, our own “God Defend New Zealand” isn’t too sketchy either. Trouble is, nowadays, everyone has a version of it, and even though it was written in English back around 1860 by a Catholic migrant to NZ, our P C society has allowed it to be hi-jacked by a maori language version in the last 10 years, which is played in tandem with, but in front of the english lyrics, and which to 80% of the country becomes a bit trite.

  14. As for pacifism as a Christian belief, I am more in agreement with C.S. Lewis’ view of pacifism as expressed in Mere Christianity: “War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, though I believe he is entirely mistaken. What I do not understand is this sort of semipacifism you see nowadays that says that while you have to fight, you must do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it.”

  15. I have no beef with what the Mennonites are doing, but that probably stems from knowing a lot of them in central lower Michigan while growing up. Good folks, and scrupulously honest–a young Mennonite lady smacked into my car while it was parked while I was at work back in high school. She immediately sought me out and told me about it. Hardly a given, even back then. Let alone now.

    I prefer TSSB, but have to admit AtB has been growing on me over the years. “Battle Hymn” is perfect for the sword-sharpening moments we sometimes find ourselves in. Real or figurative.

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