IRD: Duke University Correct to Reverse Course on Muslim Call to Prayer

on January 15, 2015

Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
January 15, 2015
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: [email protected]


“Duke Chapel is a Christian sanctuary that was dedicated in 1935 to proclaim the Gospel – not as a venue offering ‘equal time’ to all religions.”
-Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director

 

Washington, DC—Plans to begin issuing the Muslim call to prayer from a bell tower at North Carolina’s Duke University have been withdrawn after public outcry, the Associated Press is reporting.

The Duke Muslim Students Association planned to chant the call, or adhan, from the Duke Chapel bell tower on Fridays. The adhan signals the beginning of the weekly prayer service. The call was to last three minutes and be “moderately amplified,” according to the University.

Duke has historic ties to the United Methodist Church, and the chapel’s associate dean for religious life defended the initial plans as representing “a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission.” Evangelist Franklin Graham was among those critical of the proposal.

Various Christian denominations hold prayer and worship services in the chapel. Approximately 700 of Duke’s 14,800 enrolled students identify as Muslim.

IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

“Thank you to Duke University officials who were responsive to concerns about issuing the Islamic call to prayer from the chapel tower.

“Duke University would have been guilty of a double standard if it allowed the weekly public broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer from the Chapel belltower while not allowing equal public proclamation of the Gospel, or of Jewish Sabbath prayers.

“Additionally, there were significant concerns that the group set to sponsor the prayer — the Muslim Student Association — is a Saudi-backed political group associated with the Wahhabi movement of Islam. It is identified by the Muslim Brotherhood itself as the second most of important of its partner organizations in the ‘civilization-jihadist process.’”

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  1. Comment by Jason P Taggart on January 15, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Faith, heard your voice on the radio a few minutes ago, commenting on the Duke episode. Nice to have a voice to connect with the face.

  2. Comment by brookspj on January 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Additionally, there were significant concerns that the group set to sponsor the prayer — the Muslim Student Association — is a Saudi-backed political group associated with the Wahhabi movement of Islam. It is identified by the Muslim Brotherhood itself as the second most of important of its partner organizations in the ‘civilization-jihadist process.’”
    Can you cite any sources for this information?

  3. Comment by chris crews on January 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Faith is doing a disservice to Christian and other people of faith by peddling old lies like this one claiming the MSA is a front for Wahhabi Islam and the Saudi agenda. Both are common claims made against Islamic student activity on university campuses, and both have been debunked. You’ll find that most of these claims all lead back to the same source, “Soda, pizza and the destruction of America”, a 2003 article by Aaron Klein in WorldNet Daily, a far right, reactionary website. Klein uses his experience from one event hosted by one small MSA chapter to paint the entire national organization as part of a secret, anti-American jihadist conspiracy. Muslim students critical of Zionism and the internationally-recognized, illegal settlements by Israeli in the West Bank or Gaza do not “prove” these claims as a global conspiracy, despite what similar authors’ (ME Forum, etc) whose thinking is in line with Klein’s would suggest.

  4. Comment by Violet Vanderhelm on December 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Duke U. did the right action. I believe Duke U. is fair. It is a private university and can make decisions independent of student requests. It is their history and prerogative.
    “Duke Chapel is a Christian sanctuary that was dedicated in 1935 to proclaim the Gospel – not as a venue offering ‘equal time’ to all religions.”
    -Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director

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