Duke backs down on plan for weekly Muslim call to prayer from chapel bell tower

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DURHAM, North Carolina – Duke University administrators have done a U-turn regarding their plan to allow a weekly Muslim call to prayer from the Duke chapel bell tower.

One administrator had the idea that the school founded by Methodists and Quakers would benefit from a three-minute chant each Friday by promoting diversity and understanding of the Islamic faith, particularly after the terrorist killings in Paris and Nigeria.

But that plan was doomed from the get-go. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was one of the big voices in opposition.

“Duke University, they owe an apology, they’re the ones who owe the apology to the Christian students and to the donors who gave the money for the chapel,” he said.

Duke administrators say they’ve called off the prayer call because of safety concerns.

"The idea was conceived with the best of intentions and the greatest of intentions to create unity,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations. “It turned out to have the opposite effect.”

Muslim students will still use the chapel basement for Friday worship, along with Buddhist meditations and Hindu services, but not at the same time, of course.

That might be enough to turn a devil blue.