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Duking It Out Over Islam

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Try It.This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 21, 2015.

Duke University is an excellent school in North Carolina. It has terrific basketball teams and high academic standards. Of late, it has had a rough few years, due mostly to being too sensitive to charges of racial prejudice or any prejudice, easier to make in the American South, and it is difficult to be too condemnatory about that. There was the lacrosse team scandal nine years back which turned out to be untrue regarding rape but did include the white team hiring black strippers. This month, a woman has made a similar charge of rape albeit with drugs off campus at a fraternity party. Duke, solely on this allegation, suspended the fraternity. Hilarity and horror to ensue.

Duke is not alone. Rhode Island's Brown University is undergoing much the same, as are others, like CU and the University of Virginia, and it would not be too much hyperbole to suggest that most college administrators would love to suspend and waterboard most Greek social fraternities and get them out of the campus life and nation's headlines. The mostly 19th century American versions of these academic and social groups had a constructive purpose then but are mostly drinking clubs today.

Duke has one more issue. Student Muslims, of which about 700 so identify, gather in the campus chapel to pray on Friday. They requested being allowed to sound the call for prayer on Friday - called the adan - from the chapel belfry. That's one call on one day. I'm willing to bet the belfry has been utilized for its height and sound coverage for many things not conducive to the school's original Methodist affiliation. Oh, and it turns out most of the 700 student Muslims, much like their Christian and Jewish peers, aren't really religious. So, what's the issue?

Well, for those who don't recall Golden Cadillac Billy Graham, his prodigal son returned to the hearth and home of his wealthy father years back to come into his inheritance once the olde man kicks the buck, leaps the twig, bites the dust. Franklin Graham thought it awful that a Christian church was being Christian and allowing a related faith to call its adherents to prayer from the chapel belfry. He boiled up all the usual suspects: Sharia Law, the killings by ISIS, and condemnations of rape, butchering, and beheading by enthused patriarchal thugs with crescent moon and scimitar on their mind and not the cross. Where was Graham when the very Christian Lord's Resistant Army was afoot and in power slashing its way across central Africa? Or anyone when Catholic priests and nuns offered sanctuary to Rwandans before locking the doors and burning to death all inside during those same years. If equally repulsive Muslims do the same, that gets Christian danders up.

So, in order to calm down Graham and those Christians offended by the secular school's allowance of Muslims to use the chapel, it was allowed that the adan can be sounded at ground level in the quadrangle at campus center by the chapel, but not up in the bell tower. This apparently appeased Graham and others. If they were concerned for the reasons they gave, why would they be appeased?

Be it said, the Muslims were okay with it and did their thing. Nobody much notices or cares.

It is supposed that the Muslims did this to annoy Christians and generate a violent reaction that would lead to something awful. Sharia Law on campuses across the nation. Today, Duke, tomorrow Texas A & M. I suspect less. Probably more in the nature of official acknowledgement of their existence and something nice. That they only pray one day a week and not six times a day as required sorta wipes clean the supposition they are devoted Islamic theocrats and extremists. Just like most Americans claim they're religious and Christian in inverse proportion to church attendance.

Frankly, Franklin, Muslims only want to be marginally annoying, like the churches that have long been in the habit of frequent bell ringing, especially during the now seven month Christmas season. We have no problems celebrating Passover with friends, and ought to have none celebrating Ramadan with Muslims. Like your father, who said this week this nation was founded on Christian principles and not Islamic, you're a half-educated bag of misinformation who cannot read Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or much besides goober English and cannot be an authority. Let American Muslims celebrate Ramadan as periodically as American Christians do Easter. If nothing else, great food. And Jesus never turned down an invite.