LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Michigan Catholic high school is standing up for the nation's flag.
On Tuesday, Lansing Catholic High School president Tom Maloney, along with two other school staff members, sent a letter by email to parents, notifying them that athletes who kneel at a game during the national anthem will not participate in the game.
The school addressed the source of the media frenzy over the anthem concerning racial injustice while also defending the mission of Lansing Catholic to shape students spiritually, intellectually and socially into disciples of Jesus Christ, according to the letter.
The school's decision to institute the policy happened after four high school footall players were benched after kneeling during the anthem at a game in October. The school issued a statement after the game that any player who knelt during the anthem wiykd be disciplined by Lansing Catholic. In a letter, Maloney clarified the school's initial position:
After much prayer and reflection; in consultation with our Board of Trustees, with the Superintendent of the Diocese, with administrators at other Catholic schools, and with law enforcement, we will continue to hold our student-athletes to the expectation that they stand for our National Anthem. ... Any student-athlete who chooses not to stand will receive consequences. As always, this will be handled with Christian Charity, with the goal of growth in virtue.
Lansing Catholic admitted the right of groups to peacefully protest but justified the school's stance that protesting at school sporting events is not an appropropriate venue. The letter stressed that student safety is a priority.
In another letter from October, Maloney stated that the coaches will make any further decisions regarding the playing time for athletes: "All other decisions about playing times are at the discretion of our coaches. As always, our coaches base those decisions on performance in practices and past games and game time situations."
The four players wrote a letter in response to the school's position and requested a number of short-term and long-term suggestions, including a formal apology from the school for "the disrespect shown to us and the unprofessional handling" of the disciplinary measure issued to the players, clarificaiton of future disciplinary consequences for the four players who knelt during the anthem, and a zero-tolerance policy for racism that allows for students to report discriminatory issues, diversity training for faculty, staff and students.
Lansing Catholic responded to the letter in an email, which Moore sent October 28, that requested the students to form a "multicultural diversity student group." Moore stated that the goal of the group is to "create a safe space for students to talk about issues of race and ethnicity and build bridges of unity and respect." He continued in his email, "Racism is real, it affects all of us in different ways. And how do we respond to it — ignore it, fight it, change it?"
The school's current policy, issued Tuesday, for winter athletes promises to continue the discussion. Another Lansing Catholic school, Immaculate Heart of Mary-St. Casimir School, enacted a similar policy regarding students refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The Catholic elementary and middle school will send a child home for the day for not standing for the pledge. If it happens again, the child will be sent home for the week. Further consequences would involve the dismissal of the child from the school.
Church Militant reached out to Lansing Catholic for comment, but as of press time has received no response.