Letters to the Editor

Readers respond to Duke decision to abandon Muslim call to prayer in chapel

Duke University’s decision to reverse itself on allowing the Muslim call to prayer to be amplified from the Duke Chapel bell tower has brought a stream of letters today.

Read a Point of View by Christy Lohr Sapp, associate dean for religious life at Duke University Chapel, on the original decision to allow the call here.


A missed opportunity

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: While I understand the reasoning behind Duke University’s decision, I am disappointed in the turn of events.

As a church lady and preacher’s daughter, I have found the Islam call to prayer to be one of the most beautiful religious rituals that exist in our world today. Duke University’s original decision to allow the chanting of the adhan on Fridays from the tower of a Christian house of worship was a thoughtful gesture toward religious tolerance and unity. Our Christian community could learn from the Muslim community’s daily dedication to prayer.

Franklin Graham’s statements in the article convey his and some Christians’ ignorance of the Muslim faith. The behavior and beliefs of jihadists and radicals are no more religious than the behavior and beliefs of radical Christians. It is more of a cultural difference than a religious one.

We would all be healthier both physically and mentally if we spent more time each day in prayer or meditation – pick your practice.

I am sad that the Duke community won’t hear this call to prayer. It might have been an opportunity for us all to be reminded to take time out each day for peace and understanding.

Margaret Albert



Different gods?

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: Franklin Graham said, “It’s wrong because it’s a different god.” How many gods does he think there are? Perhaps he could make us a list. If he’s having trouble with this concept, perhaps he could look to a common saying in the Islamic world: There’s no God but God.

Andrew Bird



Disappointing Graham

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: I was shocked by Franklin Graham’s remarks regarding Duke’s decision to allow Muslims to use the bell tower for the call to prayer.

I am a Jew. Does he believe that I, too, worship a “different” God from Christians like he states Muslims do? We all worship the God of Abraham. Does he preach that all Muslims are terrorists as he proclaimed?

We all have differing opinions as to whether the use of the bell tower is appropriate, but his remarks promote ignorance, bigotry and hatred. They are dangerous. I expected more from the son of the great Billy Graham.

Bonnie Bleiweiss

Wake Forest


Inclusion, not isolation

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: Duke should be ashamed of its leadership.

The decision to reverse course on allowing Duke students to include the call to prayer as part of their Friday service is a failure to understand the fractious state of worldwide Islam and a missed opportunity to encourage a nonradical, peaceful, modern understanding and practice of the faith.

Society cannot eliminate radical Islam by isolating and denigrating the entire faith. Only by encouraging and supporting the practice of millions of peaceful Muslims, and their inclusion in the cultures of all countries, will we deny radicalism an incubator

Scott Chapman



Lack of courage

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: Franklin Graham and his ilk are bullies, and Duke University lacks a spine.

Graham claims that permitting the Muslim call to prayer from Duke’s Chapel would be “wrong because it’s a different God.” Contrast that to the tolerance and respect shown by my West African Islamic friends who are fond of reminding me “there is only one God but many paths.”

Graham further characterizes followers of Islam as “raping, butchering, and beheading Christians.” Yet, in Rwanda, where I have spent time, Islamic imams risked death during that country’s genocide by offering asylum (often within the walls of mosques) to their Christian neighbors who were being systematically hunted and slaughtered by other Christians. Many of the mass killings during Rwanda’s genocide happened inside of churches, and many priests and nuns were complicit.

Is Christianity as a whole also a violent religion? Obviously not.

Duke’s decision to permit the prayer call was a symbolically important reminder that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide are peaceful and tolerant. Duke’s reversal shows that it lacks the institutional courage to stand up to bullying by narrow-minded extremists.

Thomas Kelley

Chapel Hill


A radical decision

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: As a minister professing to follow one who calls us to love our enemies, I find myself incredibly tested these days to extend that charity to Franklin Graham – and now Duke University.

I pray my good Muslim brothers and sisters, so quickly thrown under the bus by radical Christian fundamentalists and status quo bureaucrats, will forgive us all.

Douglas S. Long



Same God for all

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: May I be so bold as to correct the illustrious Franklin Graham regarding the proposed Muslim call to prayer from the Duke bell tower.

The Muslim God is not “a different god.” He is the God of Abraham, the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians.

During the 1990s, I was in Casablanca on a medical mission. There were windows in the operating room, and we could hear the adhan several times a day. It was beautiful, of course, but it served to remind us of our humanitarian purpose, that our one God commanded us to love Him by loving one another.

Flora O’Brien



Our neighbors

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: Once again Franklin Graham, head of the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, has made anti-Muslim remarks betraying an intolerance and bigotry unworthy of the Jesus Christ whom Graham claims to worship.

The Jesus of my Bible tells a story about a Jewish traveler who is wounded, stranded and urgently in need of life-saving attention. In the story, a priest and a Levite, clerics of the traveler’s own religion, refuse to offer help. The unlikely hero turns out to be, of all things, a Samaritan. Samaritans were distant cousins of the Jews but were regarded by Jesus’ contemporaries as impure followers of a false religion. Yet this unlikely do-gooder has the humanity and compassion to bind up the traveler’s wounds and make extensive provision for his continued care. He was the only character in the story who acted like a “neighbor” to the man in need. He was not an enemy but a neighbor.

This parable is known as the Good Samaritan and is, of course, the source of the name of Graham’s charity.

One wonders how carefully he pays attention to the actual teachings of the Jesus to whom he is so devoted.

Donald N. Penny



A right reversal

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: I am disgusted by the actions and words of Michael Schoenfeld and Christy Lohr Sapp regarding the ill-thought-out plan to have the Muslim call to prayer sung from the Duke Chapel bell tower.

It would be informative to know the names of any others in the Duke administration who authored and agreed to this idea. They should be rewarded with career termination!

Thank God for Franklin Graham and all the alumni who voiced their objections to this farce.

William Powers



One god, many religions

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: It certainly was a surprise to hear Franklin Graham say that there is more than one god out there. Too bad he doesn’t follow the teachings of his.

I was always taught that Christians were forgiving and accepting, but apparently I had some bad instruction growing up (not enough televangelism I guess).

Good thing I’ve realized there is probably only one god but many religions, and some of them do quite well without one.

Charles R. Schroeder



Extremist voices

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: A Muslim call to prayer from the bell tower of the Duke Chapel would have been a beautiful expression of Duke’s openness to cultural exchange.

Instead of one god, Franklin Graham speaks of different gods. One need look no further than the Golden Rule and the First Amendment to see that Graham’s extreme position is neither Christian nor American.

We live in contentious times. Until moderates have the strength of their convictions, extremists will have the loudest voices.

David E. Stewart



Duke double standard

In response to the Jan. 15 Point of View “ At Duke, welcoming Muslims” regarding the Muslim call to prayer that Duke University planned to ring from its chapel bell tower: Christy Sapp, the chapel’s associate dean for religious life, argues this is religious pluralism and is at the heart of Duke’s philosophy.

For those who support this viewpoint, let me ask a question. Duke doesn’t want Chick-fil-A to sell its sandwiches on campus because its founder believed that homosexuality was a sin. But it does want Muslims bowing toward Mecca on campus even though their founder believed in the subjugation of women, the enslavement of other cultures and the death of those who disagreed with him.

I thought the people at Duke were supposed to be smart!

Matthew Walker