Preserve Religious Pluralism at Duke University

Target: Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke University

Goal: Preserve plans to sound the Muslim call to prayer on campus once a week

Just days after announcing that it would begin to broadcast a short call to prayer for Muslim students once a week, Duke University has capitulated to Islamophobic pressure and canceled its plans. This would have been a major milestone for religious pluralism both on Duke’s campus and for the country as a whole. Urge the university to stay the course and stick to its original plan.

According to Duke University, the original plan was to broadcast a “moderately amplified” Muslim call to prayer for three minutes from the university’s Duke Chapel bell tower every Friday in an effort to highlight “a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission.” Immediately after this plan was announced, however, Duke came under attack by the religious right. Most prominent among them was the evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the famous late Billy Graham. He condemned the university on Facebook, saying “As 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, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism.” Graham then issued a call to arms from Duke’s donor base, saying, “I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”

Unfortunately, it appears that Graham’s warpath has been successful, but we should not let the voices of bigots and racists be the loudest that Duke hears. Sign the petition below to tell the university that you appreciate its original plan to establish religious pluralism on campus and urge the school to hold true to it.


Dear President Brodhead,

I am writing you today to express heartfelt disappointment that your university bowed to pressure from Islamophobes and racists and canceled its plans to broadcast a weekly Muslim call to prayer. The lack of backbone your university has demonstrated is, frankly, cowardly.

Many of us saw the announcement of your original intention to broadcast the call to prayer as a huge milestone for religious pluralism, not just within the confines of your campus, but also for the nation as a whole. Likewise, many of us saw the predictable reaction from anti-Muslim bigots criticizing you for the plan as evidence that you were doing something right. Apparently, however, you took it seriously. The condemnations of someone like Franklin Graham, who is on record saying that Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion,” should be heard as nothing more than the ravings of intolerant people upset that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

You are sitting on a $7 billion endowment—You should not be beholden to your donor base when certain members (and a great minority, I would bet) are upset that you are doing a good thing that they, for bigotry, disagree with. I urge you to ignore the criticisms, reverse your cancellation, and stick to your original plan to promote religious pluralism on Duke’s campus.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Bluedog423 via Wikimedia Commons

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66 Signatures

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