News: CCU Statement on National Anthem Controversy

CCU Statement on National Anthem Controversy

Over the last 24 hours, Colorado Christian University has been drawn into a robust national debate regarding athletics, free speech, and dissent. In light of the recent media attention, I want to offer some clarification about CCU’s position on these topics and address the racial tensions in our country.

Let me start with the latter so there is no confusion about where we stand. The University’s ultimate desire is to see racial reconciliation that is consistent with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The racial issues facing this country are serious and racial reconciliation should be a priority for all Americans, especially Christians. Scripture teaches that we are created in the image of God, and that Christ is redeeming a people out of “every tribe and language and people and nation.” This compels us to view racism as a sin that the gospel reveals and heals. Furthermore, Christ’s great commandment to His followers to love God and love our neighbors has no qualification. As a Christian institution of higher learning, and as Christ-followers, we have to take this seriously — to teach it, and with Christ’s help, to live it more faithfully.

Colorado Christian University also upholds our students’ right to dissent in a manner that is safe and appropriate. The University has a long-standing policy in the College of Undergraduate Studies student handbook (pg. 169) that allows any student to voice dissent or opposition in an appropriate manner. This policy is not unique for CCU; you will find similar policies at many other institutions of higher learning.

Unfortunately, some of yesterday’s media coverage misrepresented CCU, specifically referencing our policy for student-athlete conduct during competition. The University athletic department has always required our student athletes and coaches to stand respectfully for any pre-game or post-game prayers, as well as for the national anthem. Contrary to several reports, this is not a new position.

We ask students to stand out of respect for God, for our nation, and for those who are serving it or have served it. Students are not required to sing the anthem or to pray, nor do we threaten them with this policy. It has been a non-controversial community standard for decades, through many different eras and administrations.

The University does not believe that our athletic events are the appropriate venue to conduct political or social protests. We are grieved by the sudden politicization of athletic events around the country. We are saddened that our practice of standing out of respect for God and our nation is suddenly seen as divisive or strange, silencing free speech — that is not the case. We simply believe that there are other more constructive avenues for expressing dissent.

As a Christian university, we don’t intend to shy away from tough discussions on difficult topics — we welcome the appropriate expression of free speech. CCU has often invited speakers to campus with whom we are not in full agreement. This enhances our mission of higher education, and better equips our students for the challenges they will face beyond their time at CCU.

CCU aspires to be a Christ-centered community, faithful to God’s Word, obedient to His commands. We are still learning how to do this well. We want to live lives of grace and truth. This tense and teachable moment in our nation’s history gives us a new opportunity to grow in this area.

Yours in His service,

Dr. Donald W. Sweeting