The missed opportunity of Duke’s Muslim call to prayer

Shiao Chong

Shiao Chong
January 22, 2015

In the debacle over a Muslim call to prayer, Duke has confused syncretism with hospitality, while Graham has confused hostility with defending the faith.

Doug Vande Griend
January 22, 2015

I think Duke University needs to figure out just what Duke University is, that is, what underlying worldview it stands on. Duke's governing documents suggest that worldview is Christianity, as understood from a Methodist tradition, but Duke seems unable to affirm that, or sort out what that means.

So here's the interesting question, and possibly answering it may help determine an appropriate answer for Duke. Should Calvin College, Dordt College, or Trinity College be "gracious" to would-be Muslim students? If so, why? If not, why?

Shiao Chong
January 22, 2015

Thanks Doug, for the question.

If I look at Duke's current Mission Statement (found here: http://trustees.duke.edu/governing/mission.php) I don't see any mention of its Christian faith or roots. The closest I could find is in Article 1 of its Bylaws. There, the key statement I believe is this: "Recognizing its origin in this tradition, its continuing relationship to The United Methodist Church, and the diverse constituency that has developed since its founding, the University is committed to creating a rigorous scholarly community characterized by generous hospitality towards diverse religious and cultural traditions."

So, I suspect that Duke's current state of affairs is a functional secularism, even if its roots were in an underlying Christian worldview, that worldview does not seem to me to function in any major way in Duke's current classroom functions. I suspect that Duke has compartmentalized the Christian faith to the chapel, to an ethical standard (rather than an all-encompassing worldview) characterized by generous hospitality (which in my post above I think they are slightly confused about). Its functional secularism in the classroom is probably what allows students of different faiths finding a home at Duke.

This is very different from my understanding of explicitly faith-based colleges like Calvin, etc. These colleges are functionally Christian from classrooms to chapels. The Bible permeates all facets of academic life and learning in these institutions. Hence, I do not see any large numbers of devout practicing Muslims (or any other faiths for that matter) trying to attend these colleges anytime soon. Why would they go to such a place? You might get the odd nominal or progressive Muslim but you would not likely have the same prayer demands or issues either from such small numbers and the nominal nature of their faith. On that level, the question is somewhat academic or moot.

Furthermore, I believe these explicitly Christian colleges would also have Biblical principles and themes shaping their student life and conduct codes. And I suspect that would be a deterrent already for most non-Christian students. I don't know but some of these codes might contain forbidding promotion of other religions or explicit idolatry, for instance, which would be the rub right there.

Well, for arguments' sake, I would think that if a Muslim student have put up with all the Christian worldview functioning and permeating every classroom and s/he can subscribe to everything in the Christian student life code, and still wants to do the Muslim prayers, I will think of the golden rule in this case - Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31). If I were a Christian in a hostile environment, would I want my freedom to pray to Jesus? Yes, I would. And for me to pray in private, at the very least, by myself in a room without disrupting anyone else is to me, reasonable and just. But I would not expect to be allowed to evangelize and distribute Christian pamphlets publicly to others!

Let's use another metaphor - if I have a Muslim guest in my home, staying for a few days, maybe even weeks, I personally would graciously allow him to pray on his prayer mat in the guest room in private, as long as he also puts up with our Christian prayers and bible readings over meals. But he does not have the right to put up posters propagating Islam on the guest room windows so that outsiders can see them. I will not allow my house to be used as a tool for propagating what I do not believe in. Neither can he proselytize to me or to my family under my roof.

Because when the tables are turned, and I am the guest at his house, I would hope he would graciously allow me to read my Bible, do my devotions and prayers in the privacy of the guest room as well! To me, that would be principled hospitality.

Sorry for a long comment but it was a good question.

Doug Vande Griend
January 23, 2015

Shiao: No need to apologize for the length of your comment. Some questions demand length and this is one of them I think. :-)

As to Duke's purpose, I find a bit more than you do in the Bylaws (the primary authoritative document for the institution besides the "articles," or "charter," which are silent on purposes). They (bylaws) say (with CAPS emphasis added):

"The aims of Duke University (the "University") were originally set forth in a statement that President John C. Kilgo wrote for Trinity College in 1903. Kilgo's statement, which grounded the University's purposes in the CHRISTIAN TRADITION of intellectual inquiry and service to the world, was adapted for Duke University upon its establishment in 1924. RECOGNIZING ITS origin in this tradition, its CONTINUING RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, and the diverse constituency that has developed since its founding, the University is committed to creating a rigorous scholarly community characterized by generous hospitality towards diverse religious and cultural traditions."

As this blog site's name proclaims, there is "No Such Thing as Secular." (I'm a bit puzzled that you would characterize Duke as "secular"). Yes, Dordt, Calvin and Trinity are intentionally Christian, that is, intentionally grounded as to all they do in a particular religious (prepositional) perspective, but so is Duke, however communally aware or unaware (or confused) it might be as to what is religious (prepositional) perspective is.

For Duke, this issue and others like it will hopefully push it to think harder about where the institution stands in a prepositional way. Duke may begin to realize that if you physically uproot the institution and then plunk it down into a country like, say, Saudi Arabia, the institution as it now exists would be completely destroyed, save the physical wood and bricks, because the religious (prepositional, worldview) perspective in Saudi Arabia is antithetical to Duke University as it now exists in the US (even if Duke is communally confused about what it is, the Saudis are not so confused).

If Duke University is in fact Christian, as the word Christian is properly understood, its curriculum content would evidence that. And if it doesn't (and it probably doesn't), that would only be evidence that Duke University is not Christian, or perhaps that the Methodist tradition that Duke claims roots in is not Christian. Or possibly that they both INTEND to be Christian, but the Duke powers that be have simply not figured out what that means for a college. I went to Willamette University College of Law (1976-1979). They said (in their publications) that they were "mindful of their Methodist heritage," but in fact they were not. My first year Legal Ethics professor was a self-described Marxist Atheist and had no use for my participation in class. He early on realized that his perspective and mine were antithetical. I was far more mindful of his institution's claimed heritage than he was (or wanted to be).

I agree with you, Shiao, when you talk of the need to be gracious. If I were Dordt College and a Muslim wanted to attend, I might allow that but make it clear that the student would not be able to work out his claimed faith -- at least publicly -- while at college. But I wouldn't suggest, as you do for Duke, that Dordt College "build a symbolically neutral multi-faith space for Muslims and others." I don't think you would recommend that for Dordt either, but you do for Duke. Why?

The only answer I can possibly see to that "why?" is that you regard Duke as being a non-Christian institution, that it is either non-Methodist or it's claimed strain of Methodism is essentially also non-Christian.

In fact (knowing a couple of Duke Law grads), I think Duke intends to be an institution that religiously stands upon (philosophical) materialism and atheistic humanism. It may give lip service to Methodist Christianity, but that is only to keep some institutional donors from stopping their donations. I would like to see the Christian contingent of the Duke constituency challenge that. I suspect Franklin Graham would too.

As to Graham's (in-artful) statements , I think he simply saw Duke taking an abrupt move toward PUBLICLY accommodating a religion that holds its own "not one square inch" perspective antithetical to that of Christianity, and wanting to say (scream even), "wake up, there is something very wrong with this picture!!" Certainly, there was something dreadfully wrong about the picture, at least if one assumes some meaning to Duke's claim of being Christian in the Methodist tradition.

Joe Fontenot
January 23, 2015

Very well put. Passing along!

Shiao Chong
January 24, 2015

Hi Doug,
I was at a conference/symposium all day yesterday Friday so didn't have time to respond to your follow up comment.

Yes, I saw that By law Article which was why I quoted the last sentence in my first comment, which you also quote but you quoted the previous sentences as context. But the key to understanding what that Article by law means to Duke is the very last bit of that sentence, not all that went before it. Their Christian heritage and commitment is basically reduced to "generous hospitality towards diverse religious and cultural traditions". In other words, Duke might think it is Christian but when pushed for what they think it means, I think they will answer that it means: "don't be a jerk, be nice, moral people, be non-judgmental, be loving and kind, and being generously hospitable. And, oh, we still have a chapel where Christians worship on campus."

Christian faith is reduced or compartmentalized into the realm of ethics and explicit religious activities, e.g. worship, prayer, etc.

I don't see any where Duke sees the relevance of the Christian faith in the classroom, in the realm of thought and philosophy, or anywhere else.
In short, Duke has bought into the secular myth that the public space is faith-neutral. That is a lie that you and I don't believe in, which is what this site's tagline - No Such Thing As Secular - attest to.

But when I say that Duke is functionally secular, I mean in shorthand that they have bought into this lie, and is ordering their university according to it.

Which mean, yes, I agree with you - Duke is, by practice, not Christian in the fullest sense. It's almost analogous to a person who confess to be a Christian but lives Monday to Saturday as if his faith does not matter, but shows up on Sundays in church. He/She is a practical atheist, even if s/he doesn't think so.

And yes, that is why I think that Duke, under their parameters as a non-Christian university, needs to build a multi-faith building for others because that would be just and fair, rather than turning its Christian chapel into a multi-faith space.

I think, ideally, in a pluralistic world (NOT in an ideal New Heaven and Earth, mind you, where the whole earth will be full of God's glory, where there will be only one worship, no false gods) but in a fallen pluralistic world - you would not only have Christian faith-based universities true to their identities, but also Muslim faith-based universities, Buddhist faith-based universities and, presumably, Atheist/Humanist based universities (which is what most public secular universities are), and etc., and they all cater to their communities, and we won't have such issues.

But because we don't have that, a public university, therefore, that seeks to accommodate its religious students, need to therefore do it in a way that is gracious, yes, but also just to the integrity of each faith group.

And, yes, I would NOT expect a Christian university like Dordt or Redeemer to build a multi-faith space because that goes against its identity. That would be akin to - going back to my Muslim guest analogy - would be akin to me building a special prayer room in my house for my Muslim guest. That goes beyond hospitality but to actually suggesting that his faith has become part and parcel of this home.

Thanks for this conversation.

Doug Vande Griend
January 24, 2015

OK, I think we agree as to what has happened at Duke: they have and still suffer from the illusion that the Christian faith has little if anything to do with Monday to Saturday. They've bought into the idea that secularism is a real perspective (there is "such thing as secular" :-) ).

Where I suppose we disagree is this: I would want Duke to see this as an opportunity to recognize their myth to be myth, to understand that faith is the foundation of all of life. And perhaps Franklin Graham's inartful expressions might help do that. The last thing I'd really want to see is Duke perpetuating and deepening its myth by building a supposedly neutral forum so that worshiping many gods might be done on its campus with less controversy and uneasiness.

Ironically, the Islamic faith is challenging Duke to realize that all of life finds its foundation in one's religious perspective. Suggesting that Duke retreat deeper into its myth that secular is possible helps no one.

Put another way, if Muslims are capable of and willing to push Duke to realize that faith underlies all of life, why should we, Christians, insist that the Muslims are wrong on that?!?!?! Why should we not agree with the Muslims about that, but insist that Christianity is true and Islam is not, and tell Duke it has a choice to make, that being neither hot nor cold (which is what "Sunday Christianity" is) is not an option, that it must abandon the secular myth?

Frankly (no pun intended), I think that is what Franklin Graham might be trying to do, even if his communication is clumsy. God willing, that may be what Islam does for many Christian traditions in the western world that have bought into the secular myth. Above all, Reformed folk shouldn't be pushing to continue or deepen the myth.

Shiao Chong
January 25, 2015

Hi Doug,
I just saw your comment now. Somehow, the notifier did not automatically notify me of follow up comments.

Thanks for this. Now, I see your point or concern.

I guess I have exposed my pessimist (or cynical?) side in this. I think that realistically, universities with a Christian heritage like Duke that has turned "secular" are too far gone to reform back. I suspect there are way too many forces at work to prevent that from happening, everything from non-believing faculty members, staff, students, to money, endorsements, sponsors, donors, alumni, etc.

I guess I was looking at Duke too much perhaps as another public "secular" university, like the one I serve at - one that does not have any Christian background to begin with.

So, I guess I never held out hope - and maybe to my shame - that Duke can recapture its Christian worldview and ditch the myth. At least, not in any time soon. Hence, I was operating more from let's make the best of a bad situation - in this case, preserving whatever Christian witness that's left - the Duke Chapel - from becoming also a multi-faith space, because then we would have pretty much lost even a possible prophetic voice within Duke.

Duke did not become "secular" overnight, and it won't turn back overnight. And I suspect that it did not become secular because secular forces from the outside berated them into it. It was probably more a gradual change of philosophy from within its leaders and ranks. So, I suspect that any turning back will have to go through the same gradual route. Hence, I doubt very much any external criticisms like Graham's makes much difference but only probably make them dig in their heels even more.

The more hostility or perceived bigotry secularists see from religious groups, the more likely - from my experience - secularists think religion as a whole is a bad idea. So, rather than push them back to rethink their assumptions, it will probably only make them reinforce their assumptions and react even more knee-jerk in the long run. In other words, their thinking might be: maybe we should just ban these groups flat out. Maybe we should not even accommodate any religion at all? Any religious symbols anywhere we call public or secular space?

In other words, see what's happening in France where they ban every outward religious apparels in public universities. And there's the similar proposed bill to ban any public servant from wearing religious symbols in Quebec, Canada, which thankfully, never went through because they lost the elections.

So, I am more pessimistic about that and think that change has to be more from the inside "undercover" work, so to speak, and gradually over years, gently and incrementally so as to side step resistance, rather than any form of external pressures from religious groups.

Doug Vande Griend
January 26, 2015

Thanks for the discussion Shiao. This involves a critical question for us (the church) I think.

No, I am not so "pessimistic." Let me explain why. When I moved to Oregon (Salem) in 1976 to begin law school (having graduated from Dordt with a Philosophy and History double major), I went to a Christian Legal Society Pacific NW regional meeting. I was hesitant to go, thinking these Christian lawyer people would in all likelihood tell me I needed to hand out "save your soul" tracts to clients when I became a lawyer. I was one of those rather smug, Dooyeweerdian types who thought God's select group (Reformed) knew everything and other Christians not much.

The conference stunned me. First, I was shocked that the reading table consisted entirely publications that came from Calvin profs, Dordt profs, and Dutch Reformed guys (no save your soul tracts). The second stunner was that I was the only Dutch Reformed guy (CRC, RCA, etc) there. I'm ashamed to say my first reaction was like Jonah's. I didn't want those "outsiders" to have "my stuff." These were Baptists, Charismatics, Lutherans, Methodists -- second rate Christians. They couldn't have this truth, could they? It took time but I came to accept, even appreciate, that: (1) the body of Christ role the Dutch Reformed community played in the universal church was perhaps "how to think holistically"; (2) Christians from non-reformed traditions were far more likely than Dutch Reformed to actually do what Dutch Reformed folks said needed doing.

Later that year, I attended a Willamette Univ showing of Frances Schaeffer's "How Shall We Then Live" films. I was again the only Dutch Reformed guy there. Again, I was stunned. I saw Christians from non-reformed traditions crying because of what they had heard and learned from a film series I took for granted. They explained this sort of perspective opened up life for them, made them understand that God wanted 100% of them, their entire lives, not just for their "souls to go to heaven." Understand, these kids were all going to Willamette Univ, a very old school that was begun by Methodists but had lost its way over the decades (Duke anyone?).

Think about the effect people like Schaeffer, Dobson, and Sproul have had. They have sold the idea of reformed thinking, of "there is not one square inch" thinking, to millions of Christians who had not previously never heard of it. In a very real way, the 1970's was the beginning of revival in the church in the US, lead by the Dutch Reformers and some branches of the Presbyterianism.

Years later in the course of doing public interest law work, I worked a lot with a Wash DC based lawyer who was a Duke law grad. By the time I started working with him, he had "turned Calvinist" (his way of saying it). Many years later, this lawyer would be the lead attorney representing Dordt College in its recent lawsuit against the federal government over the Obamacare mandate requiring the college's employee health insurance to cover abortion agents (Dordt won that).

Among what I have learned over the decades from events in my life:

I don't think a form of Christianity that doesn't demand Monday through Saturday, that does not have a "not one square inch" element in it, is worth very much. As to this, the Muslims got it right.

I was so very blessed early in life to have been taught as I was.

Reformed people may not be, as I had been, either jealous of that perspective, nor minimizing of what exposure to that perspective can have.

I have no interest in advancing a Christian faith that is not holistic. Nor do I doubt the change that can result from being exposed to the fullness of God's word and spirit (which I don't hesitate to identify with Reformed thinking). As a corollary, it no longer surprises me to find "full Christianity" as much or perhaps sometimes more present in Christian traditions that are NOT historically Reformed.

My hope is that the Islamic intrusion into American life and politics will be cause for some Christians to radically and fundamentally re-examine their perspective (Dutch Calvinists used to talk like this), just as the Schaeffer films did years ago. Duke constructing a neutral site for Muslims to pray accomplishes nothing except to perpetuate and re-enforce the idea that anemic Christianity is Christianity. In Revelations Jesus said to the church in Laodicea:

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."


Shiao Chong
January 27, 2015

Hi Doug,
Thank you so much for this rich conversation! And thank God for optimists like yourself!

I think we are mostly in agreement here. But allow me to just note two things that might explain the difference in our approach on this matter.

1. I am as equally optimistic as you about individual change of hearts and minds. I am enthusiastic about the Reformed worldview of a robust Christianity that is not compartmentalized. I, myself, was not Reformed, but became a Reformed Christian through the work of campus ministry when I was a university student. Hence, my own calling now as a campus pastor in a secular university. If I do not have hope that individual students can change their minds in terms of their Christian faith, I would not be doing this job. And, yes, all the examples you cite help to show how God is at work.

But that optimism of individual change does not translate for me when it comes to institutional change. It is a lot easier to turn around a speedboat then it is to turn around an ocean liner, if you get my drift. There are far more stakeholders and gatekeepers in institutions, and the larger the institution the more complex it is, that you need to change a critical mass number of those gatekeepers and stakeholders in order to effect change at the institutional level.

I mean, if I may push back a little at your examples, how many of those changed Baptists, Lutherans, Charismatics and Methodists individuals have resulted in changed denominations, for example? How many non-Reformed denominations overtly change and adopt and preach this form of Christianity as one of its central tenets?

Even some small changes within my denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, move at a snail's pace, and these are not even radical changes as in fundamental worldview shift. I can't imagine large organizations changing their fundamental philosophy that quickly or easily. It's not impossible, just very slow - gradual and incremental as I said before.

Of course, God can always surprise me! :-)

So, to sum up this first point: I agree with you about individual change, I am just more pessimistic about institutional change.

2. I wonder if part of our different approaches boils down to our basic postures in regards to Duke in particular and to our culture in general?

I wonder if you, Doug, sees Duke U as akin to ancient Israel having lost its way, and your posture, therefore, is akin to an Old Testament prophet calling on Israel to repent and return to the true spirituality? This is perhaps why you take Duke's historic Christian roots more seriously than I do?

For me, my many years of serving in a highly secularized university where Christianity and all religions are marginalized with very little influence or voice, and the fact that I am a visible minority and first generation immigrant who always tend to feel like I am on the margins, has shaped me into adopting a default posture of Daniel in Babylon. By Daniel in Babylon, I mean the entire experience or narrative of Daniel as illustrative for my posture.

Powerless Daniel and his friends was in a foreign country with its own idolatry and its own worldview. And as they begin their stay in Babylon, they needed to gain credibility and influence - not by being prophets and assuming they will be heard - but by being the best exemplary students for their Babylonian captors/tutors. But they negotiate to keep certain parts of their identities - eating kosher food for starters - they negotiate for themselves - not insist or demand that everybody else have to eat kosher but only carve up an experiment for themselves.

Over time, they grew in influence and credibility, and served the interests of the empire, and for the common good - Jew and Gentile alike. But they did pick their spots for real battles - at certain things, they needed to take a stand - even to martyrdom, i.e. the fiery furnace and the lion's den.

And, given the right opportunity and the necessity, Daniel even proclaimed the gloomy truth to the empire of its demise. But this often comes after his fame and credibility has been reached or acknowledged by his captors.

So, I think, because this is my default posture, I pick my spots for what fights we need to fight, and what hill are we willing to die on. And this Duke chapel issue, for me, is more a negotiation spot, akin to Daniel negotiating the dietary needs. And to build credibility and good will for future influence, we need to practice principled hospitality, to show that we are willing to work for the common good within "Babylon's" framework, as idolatrous and flawed as it is. Once we have gained credibility and trust from secularists, we are then more likely to be heard when we speak into their flawed worldviews in the future.

There might be issues where we need to take an obstinate stand. I just don't think this is it.

Does that resonate at all with you?

January 27, 2015

Given Duke's lack of commitment to a confessional Christian environment, I find it problematic that the belltower is being disallowed. The symbol of the chapel belltower is already somewhat emptied of its traditional meaning.

If Duke were still a confessional school, that would be different, and I really appreciate that you've grounded the conversation in a question of hospitality.

My friend Bryne brought up the problem of privilege here - as the longstanding majority in the USA, a Christian school occupies a position of privilege in that they own all the land. So the question of privilege should factor into the conversation as well.

Doug Vande Griend
January 27, 2015

Shiao: Back to you on the thanks for the discussion.

I'm not an optimist I don't think, nor a pessimist. Decades ago I resigned myself to being that cliche, "we are called only to be faithful, not successful." I say "resigned" because I was (probably still am) high on the scale of wanting to control things. These days, I just want to do what I should do, leaving the results to another.

Thanks for pushing back on my examples. You should, and I should either be able to "defend." In answer to your challenge about "other denominations," let me suggest the following (all what I know of personallyh) as a few points of evidence.

- Once, only the Dutch Reformed folk talked about "world and life view" (it wasn't called worldview back then). These days, Christians from all stripes do and can explain what that means.

- Once, Wheaton College was the leader in post-Monkey Trials fortress building. Today, Wheaton is very aware that the Christian faith must blossom into a worldview.

- In my own hometown, it is the city's megachurch, the Christian and Missionary Alliance church, that created the city's free medical clinic, and has a Peacemakers ministry (started by an OPC guy named Ken Sande) that helps businesses (and others) resolve disputes in biblical ways. One would think that would come from Dutch Reformed guys, but not.

- Even though Christian Legal Society was started around 1962 by two CRC pastors in Chicago, few if any CRC lawyers have had anything to do with it. Still, CLS become a reformed thinking organization as to law and lawyers. It's founder, Lynn Buzzard (who also earlier started the Christian Medical Society was a Baptist Minister (from Portland Oregon no less), is as or more reformed in his thinking as any 1970's Calvin professor.

- RC Sproul (among others) is read and studied in all kinds of "historically non-reformed" denominations (etc). That popularity sprang from the 1970's work of Schaeffer and Dobson.

- Advocates International, a DC area group, pronounces its work as "Doing Justice With Compassion" (see website). Their people helped eastern European countries write constitutions after the USSR fell. They are serious, reformed thinking people who were and are miles again of CRCers on the subject of living one's life as if Jesus Christ owns every square inch.

I would say that if asked where one could find the hotbed for serious, substantive, life altering reformed thinking, I would point to quite a number of people and organizations before I'd point to anything CRC. I would say the torch has passed. Don't misunderstand. I am so grateful for my reformed heritage, all developed within the Dutch Reformed community. I also credit the Dutch Reformed community with keeping "worldview" thinking alive during some pretty dark decades in the US post-Monkey Trials. But the torch passed. Many within the Dutch Reformed community (not all) have moved on to a neo-liberation theology kind of worldview that emphasizes identification with the left political community (like Sojourners) and being socially (especially politically) nice. See, e.g., the WCRC. The Dutch Reformed has become rather socially elite community that is more concerned with what others (especially those politically left) think about them, than engaging in the kind of barrier breaking, mold busting "radical thinking and acting" (their words back then) they used to do.

You know how "charismatic" is cut across denominations? So has worldview thinking, the idea that there is no square inch in our world about which Jesus Christ does not say mine. That thinking escaped the "Dutch Reformed" (even the "Reformed") sandbox a very long time ago. I now think of the word "Reformed" as having multiple meanings, just as does the word "church." Many reformed people attend and affiliate with churches that are not "Reformed." I would even say most.

It is true that Duke is more than individuals. Yet it corporately proclaims words that identify it as Christian, even if barely. In that sense, it is not Nebuchadnezzar. Nor is it a government school. Truth be known, I suspect most Muslims consider it to be a Christian institution. I would challenge Duke to get rid of the lip service if it does not intend to be what it claims. If you aren't going to BE Christian, please don't say you are, even if anemically. And if Duke does disclaim its Christianity, I'd have no more interest in meddling in its affairs than I would a private college dedicated to serving Satan or Humanism. That's why I think Duke has to decide what it is.

I still think Jesus' words to the church of Laodicea best relate to Duke. Even if it means that Duke decides to be cold. Better that than misrepresenting what Muslim's believe it is, or anyone else. :-)

Shiao Chong
January 28, 2015

Hi all,
jrforasteros: Thanks for bringing up the issue of privilege. I believe it is a factor. I presume that in this case, Christians at Duke have privileges - such as a chapel - that other religions don't.

And, hence, I think the host-guest hospitality image is apt as hosts have privileges that guests don't. And in the United States, I think that Christians still have some privileges, by and large, which may be eroding. And some of the knee jerk reactions from the likes of Franklin Graham might be towards that erosion of privilege (which is sometimes confused as persecution by North American Christians - but that's another topic for another day).

Doug: I am curious as to what you practically propose to Duke Chapel in this instance? Since you do not like my idea of a separate building for other faiths, and you seem to side with Graham's objections to the bell tower being used, what do you actually propose the Christians and Muslims do at Duke?

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