Friday, January 16, 2015

Duke U.: no campus-wide calls to Muslim prayers

"Duke University has reversed its decision to allow a Muslim call to prayer to sound from a campus chapel bell tower, school officials announced Thursday.  
Plans changed because the Durham, North Carolina, school's effort to "unify was not having the intended effect," Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said in a statement. 
 "Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students," Schoenfeld said.  
The Duke Muslim Students Association had planned to chant the call, or adhan, from the Duke Chapel bell tower. The adhan signals the beginning of the weekly prayer service. Jummah prayers have taken place in the basement of Duke Chapel for many years, the statement said."
The issue here is not whether or not Muslim students will be allowed to pray on campus. As the article notes, Muslim students at Duke have long been allotted space to practice their faith. No one is suggesting that there should be any change in this regard.

The question is whether or not Muslim students should be allowed to broadcast their religion five times per day from the campus's bell tower.

If Catholic students were requesting the right to broadcast sectarian prayers to the entire campus five times daily, I suspect that most people would say, "This goes above and beyond a reasonable accommodation of your faith at this non-Catholic* institution. If you want to do that, please attend a Catholic university."

I see no reason why the answer should be different in the case of Muslim students and Muslim prayers. 

*Note: Duke is a nonsectarian university with historical ties to the Methodist church.