I was at work one day last month when I heard a news report over the radio, announcing a historic change. The announcer reported that Goshen College had just broken with 116 years of tradition by beginning this year’s series of basketball and baseball games with the playing of the national anthem. Standing to their feet, with bowed heads and reverent gestures, the “Anabaptist” college sang—for the first time in their 116-year history—their devotion to a flag. Apparently there was quite a stir, as news reporters and onlookers came out to witness this historic event. I had to wonder what the rival team, a Catholic university called “The Saints,” must have thought about it all.
Goshen College, 1898
As the radio announcer continued to report on the dispute that arose over this incident, I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed. Most of my coworkers know where I stand on these issues, so I felt as though someone was publicly exposing the sins of one of my family members.
It reminded me of another humiliation I had a few years earlier during one of the presidential elections. This time one of my supervisors, a Jewish man, was asking me who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. I used the opportunity to explain to him the Christian concept of the two kingdoms. I explained to him that—simply put—Anabaptists don’t vote. He disagreed. An Amish man was right in front of us, so he challenged me, “Are you saying that this Amish man doesn’t vote?”
Being painfully new in Lancaster County, I smugly answered, “That’s right, just ask him yourself!” I stood there, confident of my Amish brother and his response to this Jewish man. Then he leaned over and asked the Amish man, “Are you going to vote in this election?” To which the Amish man enthusiastically replied, “You bet I am! I voted in the last election, I certainly am going to vote in this one!”