UPDATE: Duke University rescinds decision to sound Muslim call to prayer
UPDATE: Duke University canceled its plan to use its chapel tower for a weekly call to prayer for Muslims. Instead, Muslims will gather on the quadrangle before going into the chapel for their weekly prayer service.
The school’s spokesman, Michael Schoenfeld, says the previous plan to use the chapel tower didn’t have the intended effect of helping to unify people on campus.
(CNN) — The Muslim call to prayer will sound from a bell tower at North Carolina’s Duke University — but not everyone is considering the chant music to the ear.
Starting Friday, the Duke Muslim Students Association will chant the call, or adhan, from the Duke Chapel bell tower. The adhan signals the beginning of the weekly prayer service. It’s ubiquitous in Muslim countries the world over; not so in the Carolina piedmont.
The call will last three minutes and will be only “moderately amplified,” the school said.
Duke, which got its start in the late 19th century with help from the Methodist church, says the move “represents a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission.”
“It connects the university to national trends in religious accommodation,” said Christy Lohr Sapp, the chapel’s associate dean for religious life.
Various Christian denominations hold prayer and worship services in the chapel. The school also has spaces dedicated spaces on campus for various faiths, including Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.
“Just as the bells announce chapel worship in the building on Sundays, the adhan announces Muslim prayers on Fridays,” the chapel said.
Duke is a big name nationwide. US News and World Report rated it among the top 10 American universities.
Another big name in the state is strongly denouncing the school’s decision.
Franklin Graham, son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, took to his Facebook page to call on donors to pressure the university into reversing course.
“As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” he wrote. “I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”
The post has been shared tens of thousands of times.
Many of the comments came from readers who view the decision as the university giving Muslims privileges not afforded to Christians.
“When did Christians end up being the bad guys!” Nancy Kain Walls wrote on the page, offering a sentiment shared by many other posters. “Political correctness is going to destroy this country. God help us.”
But others praised Duke and urged restraint.
“STOP SPREADING HATE” wrote one woman.
Another, April Haynes, wrote “Duke has not taken away their Christian or Catholic services. What a ridiculous post.”
On Twitter, a similar back-and-forth played out.
“Duke University is going to start airing Muslim prayer over speakers every Friday, do they display the 10 commandments on campus also?,” tweeted @Jami_USA
On the other side were those congratulating the school.
“Very proud and happy that I work at Duke,” tweeted Li-Chen Chin.