Ah, the Duke Chapel. It has loud obnoxious chimes that go off every day play sweet Jesus muzak. I never minded. In my four years at Duke it was always kind of nice to hear the bells, and it was great because you always knew when happy hour ended at the Duke Pub. Hardly anyone actually goes to religious services there, and it’s mostly used for events..and for things like a backdrop for the Handmaid’s Tale. Most people at elite universities are not religious, and most of the Christians at Duke are not liberal Methodists so why would they bother.
Duke is a real meritocracy, much like MIT or Johns Hopkins. They’re more interested in getting the best students possible than in pleasing rich alumni by letting in little legacy Buffy who only scored a 1200 on the SAT. Little Buffy winds up at Vanderbilt or Princeton. Since we lifted the Oriental Exclusion Acts in 1965, a funny thing has happened. We’ve been hand-picking the best and the brightest people from all over the world to come to the United States! Many of these people come from Islamic nations; from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. They get into the United States because they have advanced degrees and jobs lined up with corporations or universities that sponsor them. Go to small cities anywhere in the US and look for a physician, dentist, or radiologist. Notice the names, Khan, Bhutt, Anad, Alam….those are just a few that came up at the top of the list for our humble town of Carbondale. We have a serious shortage of medical professionals, and we’re filling that with immigrants. Since this is a college town, I could add to that the names of my many colleagues who are Muslim. Those same names would come up if I listed out the top honors students at Carbondale Community High School. As I showed in my book Changing Faith, American Muslims have high levels of education and income. And, their children have a propensity to perform at very high levels in academics. When I attended Duke in the late 1980s there were maybe 200 Muslim students, and most of them were probably international graduate students. Now, of the 15,000 students, over 700 are Muslim, and most of them are undergrads and Americans. And, they apparently turn up for stuff, particularly during Ramadan where they have hundreds of students breaking fast. Muslims make up about .6% of the American population, but 5% of Duke students.
Duke added a Muslim chaplain to their stable, and as a nice gesture, they were going to chime a call for prayer on Friday afternoon from the giant Christian Chapel. Seems like a nice thing to do to be inclusive, and really a necessity when you have a sizable residential population of undergrads and no alternative in the Durham community. I’m an atheist but I understand that a university should try to help students adjust so that they can succeed. And, minority faiths like Islam and Judaism don’t have institutional resources in what was until recently the rural South. Ah, but not if you’re a Christianist asshole. It doesn’t matter that the air is filled with Christian calls to worship on Sunday, and that Christian music plays during the Christian holidays. Givin’ them Muslin’s a call for prayer is caving in to Sharia law, and Billy Graham’s demon spawn says that if we don’t shitcan a 1pm firing of the high tech church bells, next year all freshwomen at Duke will be wearing burqas. And that’s the “civilized” response. It seems clear from what has come out from both the Duke Chaplains’ offices and University Central that there were very serious, specific terrorist threats by Christianists. I’m guessing that these were threats against the life of the Duke University Christian Chaplain, the Muslim Associate Chaplain, and threats to blow up the Duke Chapel. I doubt that I’m wrong. Christian terrorists are rather predictable.