Methodist University in Virginia Hires Muslim Chaplain

Mikaela Mathews | Contributor | Monday, August 19, 2019
Methodist University in Virginia Hires Muslim Chaplain

Methodist University in Virginia Hires Muslim Chaplain

Methodist school Shenandoah University has hired Hanaa Unus, a Muslim chaplain, to support their student’s religious needs.

“Shenandoah is open to people of all faiths, or no faith, exploring their belief system and being leaders in this world for the greater good,” dean of spiritual life Rev. Dr. Justin Allen said, according to Diverse Education. “Hanaa provides the opportunity to be what we always say we value, and that’s a place that cherishes religious diversity.”

The school nestled in Winchester, Va. has tasked Unus to work with all students, regardless of their religion, to address their spiritual needs. She is the first clergy person in the school’s nearly 150-year history to not identify as Christian.

The university also hopes she can draw in more Muslim high school students.

“College is a delicate and defining period in a person’s life,” Unus said in a press release. “Hopefully, if students can learn about different faiths and different cultures, they can go out into the diverse world and be the change-makers Shenandoah hopes they will be.”

Unus’ hire raised a few eyebrows towards the liberal-leaning university, however. In an article for the Christian Post, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, fired several questions towards the school.

“The school’s news release explains about hiring a Muslim chaplain: ‘We’ve always wanted to be more inclusive and more diverse.’ But how diverse are they really,” Tooley asked.

“Shenandoah University’s Office of Spiritual Life includes a cleric from the Church Within a Church, an LGBTQ advocacy group. There are six listed staffers in Shenandoah’s Office of Spiritual Life. Are any NOT progressive? Do any defend United Methodism's (sic) and historic Christianity’s definition of marriage? Would a traditional Catholic or an Evangelical find any kindred spirits in this office? Does ‘diversity’ include traditionalists? Or does ‘diversity’ mean only progressives are truly welcome?”

He continues in rebuttal to Unus’ desire to make “change-makers.”

“What does Shenandoah University’s Office of Spiritual Life mean by ‘change makers?’ Traditional Methodists believe change makers preach Christ and seek a society rumored through the Gospel. But judging from at least its website and social media, Shenandoah’s chaplains have a vision of social change that’s closer to contemporary secular progressivism,” Tooley asserted.

Photo courtesy: Sarah's Glen/Shenandoah University's Office of Marketing and Communications/Creative Commons, cropped and resized to 1200x627

Methodist University in Virginia Hires Muslim Chaplain