(As a member of the United Methodist Church, it is specifically troubling to me that this policy was adopted, and it is certainly in line with the trend in United Methodism toward a progressive value system, and one I do not support. My personal belief on the matter is that despite it's history as a Christian school, I consider it an imposition when ANY religion is given an opportunity to proselytize on campus under the direction and endorsement of the university administration. I feel it is imposing one's religious view on another, no matter what religious it is being promoted. However, I am more concerned with a school founded originally with a Christian mission to make the concession that was made here, and this issue trumps any other concern of imposition I would typically have.)
I learned of this story early last week, around Tuesday. Duke University had proposed and passed a resolution that would allow the Muslim call to prayer, the adhan, to be sounded from the Duke Chapel.
I learned Friday night that the issue had been revisited after public outcry, and the earlier decision was reversed.
In the wake of this new decision, naturally another party was dissatisfied with the new (old) policy and the NBC Nightly News featured a report on it Friday evening. One individual lamented that we had "lost an opportunity to begin a dialogue with Muslims."
So I want to talk about having a dialogue with Muslims, which I think is very important, and one that too many Christians overlook.
I want to stress why evangelicalism toward the Muslim religion is so important to me. Ultimately, when it comes to salvation, the Muslims are souls, but they are lost souls. In this regard, they are like any other group that engages life removed from God and true religion. They are people that, without the intervention of Christ, they are lost. That is personally disturbing to me that it is one of the greatest untapped sources of missionary activity, and the Church, by virtue of its resignation from its duty and indifference to Muslim lives, will allow over one billion people to perish in flames, merely for because they are indiffert. They will say they are afraid of Muslims, they will say it is fruitless... These are side issues. The real issue is that Christians are indifferent.
As I have stated, I look forward to a dialogue with the Muslim communities. I hope that at some point in the future, meaningful activity to this purpose can be accomplished. However, I disagree with that man who was interviewed and others who have expressed the same feeling about the Duke controversy.
To the Christians who pursued this policy, this is seen as a real advantage to Western Christian and secular Western society. Because of the liberal ideals that Western societies hold dear, that it does not favor groups over individuals or large groups over smaller groups, the West prides itself on this basis, seeing it as an important illustration of what is so good about the West.
But it would be incorrect to say Muslims see this in the same light we do.
Muslims would consider a society that does not yield to central Muslim precepts not merely as a society that prioritizes a competing vision or ideology; it is instead viewed as an evil society, or even a shaitanic society.
Muslims would not only not recognize it as an endearing facet of our way of life, they would rather ask why such a policy had not been adopted sooner. Their rigid belief in the rightness of their way would never allow them to concede that a society even has a prerogative in deciding to not follow Muslim practice at all. Society must follow the dictates of Islam. Even they were given the vote in several Arabic and North African nations, they voted, rather than for a sort of democracy, to be ruled by the imperatives of the Qu'ran and Islamic tradition, which seems far more like a totalitarian state to people in the West.
It seems then that many Muslims who are still deeply impacted by the way of life in the East, view such consolations as NECESSARY PRECONDITIONS to dialogue.
I call this a form of Dhimmitude.
It is really asking for unconditional, total surrender. Before we can have dialogue with you, the Muslims figuratively are saying, you must kowtow and acquiesce to all of our cultural idiosyncrasies, your churches must sound the call to prayer, you must agree to the superiority of our culture, before we consider you to have standing.
This is not a genuine precondition to precede a true debate. This is the request for total, unconditional surrender.
If Muslims cannot have a debate until our culture concedes in its entirety cultural superiority to the East, then a meaningful dialogue cannot be had with them.
I do not feel this is the majority of Muslims however and again, I will reemphasize, I look forward to that dialogue in the future, with those Muslims of noble manners and customs, that will engage biblical Christians with the same eagerness that we will greet them.