By Theodore Shoebat
Muslims at Duke University were about to use their chapel tower to say their Call to Prayer, but after many complaints, the university decided to prevent the Muslims for using the church. As the report tells us:
Before it unraveled, a plan to use Duke University’s chapel tower in a call to prayer for the school’s Muslim community was meant to promote religious unity and pluralism.
One administrator explained in a newspaper column that “at Duke University, the Muslim community represents a strikingly different face of Islam than is seen on the nightly news: one that is peaceful and prayerful.” Religious pluralism is part of the school’s mission, wrote Christy Lohr Sapp, Duke Chapel’s associate dean for religious life.
But after a flurry of objections arrived by phone and email — along with reported security concerns — Duke canceled a plan to have members of the Muslim Students Association read a moderately amplified call to prayer from the tower for about three minutes each Friday.
Instead, Muslims will gather for their call to prayer in a grassy area near the 210-foot gothic tower before heading into a room in the chapel for their weekly prayer service. Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations, said it would be up to the students if they want to use some sort of amplification.
The original plan drew the ire of evangelist Franklin Graham, who urged Duke alumni to withhold support because of violence against Christians he attributed to Muslims. Schoenfeld said emails and calls came from alumni and others in the community.
“There was considerable traffic and conversation and even a little bit of confusion, both within the campus and certainly outside, about what Duke was doing,” Schoenfeld said. “The purposes and goals and even the facts had been so mischaracterized as to turn it into a divisive situation, not a unifying situation.”
Many had questions and concerns about the structure that’s an important piece of the school’s identity. The tower of the 83-year-old Duke Chapel was modeled after Canterbury Cathedral in England.
“The chapel is a very powerful symbol to anybody who has been at Duke or is connected to Duke. We have to be very thoughtful and deliberate in the way that it is used and presented,” Schoenfeld said.
He also said there were concerns about safety and security, but he declined to elaborate on whether any specific threats had been received.