University Removes Chapel Pews to Accommodate Muslim Students

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Friday, October 9, 2015

University Removes Chapel Pews to Accommodate Muslim Students

Critics of a university’s decision to make a chapel “faith neutral” are being called Islamophobic

According to Charisma News, Wichita State University renovated the Harvey D. Grace Memorial chapel last May by removing the pews and altar and replacing them with portable chairs to be able to make room for Muslim prayer rugs.

"Under the terms of Mrs. Harvey D. Grace's gift to the university in her will, 'This chapel will be open to all creeds and to all races of people,'" WSU President John Bardo said in a statement. "Our goal should be exactly what Mrs. Grace set out to do in her gift, to have an all faiths chapel that is welcoming to all religious groups on campus."

But according to reports, Wichita State removed “anything remotely related to the décor of a Christian church.”

"That space was always viewed as an interfaith for lots of folks," WSU administrator Eric Sexton told Charisma News. "In the spirit of today—there was belief at the time this was discussed that the space was not as flexible for all to feel welcome and included."

But Student Body President Joseph Shepard said outrage over the changes is “Islamophobia.”

"It's coming from off-campus, not from the students here," he told the newspaper. "They say we've taken a place of Christian worship and turned it into what they call a mosque."

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Publication date: October 8, 2015