Minority Muslim students take over Christian chapel in Kansas university
(Courtesy: Wichita State University)
Right in the American Heartland, in the state of Kansas, a minority group of Muslim students have succeeded in taking over what used to be the Christian chapel of their university to the dismay of the school's majority Christian population.
Ironically, the Muslims gained control of the Christian prayer area with the help of the administrators of Wichita State University (WSU) who, last May, decided to make the university's chapel "faith neutral" to accommodate Muslim students, according to a Fox News report.
University officials ordered workers to remove all the pews and the altar inside the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel. Muslim prayer rugs and some portable chairs were then brought inside.
In a statement, WSU President John Bardo said the changes were in compliance with the wishes of the chapel's benefactor, Mrs. Harvey D. Grace, who in her last will wrote that "this chapel will be open to all creeds and to all races of people."
Guided by this, Bardo said they decided to convert the chapel into a facility "welcoming to all religious groups on campus."
But the changes ultimately resulted in a "Christian cleansing," according to Fox News. "Anything remotely related to the décor of a Christian church was given the heave-ho."
The student alumni and university donors protested the removal of the pews and altar. "Why did they have to take out all the pews?" alum Jean Ann Cusick wrote on Facebook.
But the Muslims now in control of the facility are dismissing the Christian outrage, calling it "Islamophobia," or prejudice against Muslims.
The Muslim students have also apparently taken over the university's student body and publication, the Wichita Eagle. Student body president Joseph Shepard told the Wichita Eagle that the Christian outrage is "coming from off-campus, not from the students here."
Of the university's 15,000 predominantly Christian students, only about 1,000 are Muslims.
The Christian protesters continued to appeal to the university administrators not to deprive its majority Christian student population of their religious rights.
Apparently feeling the pressure, President Bardo recently ordered a committee to be formed to study possible changes in the facility to address the concerns of the school's Christian students.
"I don't think that change was undertaken with enough consideration of the feelings of all elements of the campus and broader community," he said.
Meanwhile, the Muslims students are also making their move to assert their control of the facility. They recently presented a petition calling for the university to install Islamic-friendly plumbing—specifically, handheld bidets in restrooms around the campus.