A Christian college in Missouri is requiring incoming freshmen to take a class to encourage patriotism.
The College of the Ozarks, an evangelical school in Point Lookout, has debuted a military science class called “Patriotic Education and Fitness.”
The class is designed to educate students on modern military customs, US politics, and proper flag protocol, the AP reports. It will also teach marksmanship, map reading, and rope knotting – almost like the Boy Scouts.
The college held an orientation session this week to introduce the course. President Jerry Davis says patriotic education “must be taught, it must be modeled and it must be emphasized.”
The move comes amid a backdrop of some U.S. athletes protesting alleged national injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem. The college announced last month that its teams won’t compete against other teams whose players don’t stand for the anthem.
“There is too much of an indifference toward the military in this country, and people seem to have forgotten that people in the military are the ones that continue to make the sacrifices for the rest of us,” Davis said.
He said the course is unusual for a non-military institution, but it “helps support the college’s patriotic goal” and would count toward ROTC fulfillments if interested students wanted to pursue that program.
“We think in the culture there is a problem in the division between the 1 percent who serve in uniform and the 99 percent living the good life because someone else made a sacrifice in a military uniform,” Davis told Fox News. “Colleges should be more intentional about teaching young people about the military and such things as leadership and cooperation and teamwork, things the military does very well.”
He said he hopes other schools follow suit. The College of the Ozarks has about 1,500 students, many of whom seem supportive of the new class.
Talan Saylor, an 18-year-old freshman from Illinois, told the Springfield News-Leader the course helps build camaraderie and that he plans to serve in the U.S. Army.
“We all go through kind of the same thing so going through a patriotic class where we are learning about our country and fostering a love for that country together is really special,” he said.
This is the latest move from a school that is founded on tradition. They recently made headlines with their new “No pledge, no play” policy enacted in September, which states that its sports teams won’t compete against other schools whose athletes kneel during the national anthem.
“We just are not comfortable with that sort of thing going on here, we think it undermines the school and is a bad example to young people,” Davis told Fox News. “We think we are all Americans and everyone should respect the country and the flag — and of course we can deal with that what people believe to be problems in a different context.”
Davis said he is disappointed that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the conference the college competes in, didn’t have a set policy of how athletes should conduct themselves during the anthem.