"What was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect," officials at Duke University said yesterday after beating a hasty retreat from plans to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast from the Duke University Chapel bell tower. When the plan was announced earlier this week, conservative evangelist Franklin Graham urged donors and alumni to withhold support from the school, complaining that "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," NPR reports. Officials say there had been a flood of "vitriolic" emails and calls objecting to the plan, as well as some security concerns.
Graham tells the News & Observer that he thinks the school's 700 or so Muslims should be allowed to worship on campus: "Let Duke donate the land and let Saudi Arabia build a mosque for them," he says. Before the plan to broadcast the call once a week was scrapped, the chapel's associate dean for religious life said it reflected Duke's commitment to religious plurality. The call will instead be broadcast on the quadrangle outside the chapel before Muslims move to the chapel's basement for Friday prayers as they've done for the last two years, reports the AP, which notes that the chapel has also hosted Buddhist meditations and Hindu services. (Read more Franklin Graham stories.)