Todd Starnes / October 10, 2015

Heartland Fury as University Renovates Chapel to Accommodate Muslims

A decision to make a university’s chapel “faith neutral” to accommodate Muslim students has created great angst in the nation’s Heartland after critics were accused of being Islamophobic. Last May, Wichita State University ordered workers to remove all the pews and an altar inside the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel. The pews were ripped from the floor and replaced with portable chairs to make room for Muslim prayer rugs.

A decision to make a university’s chapel “faith neutral” to accommodate Muslim students has created great angst in the nation’s Heartland after critics were accused of being Islamophobic.

Last May, Wichita State University ordered workers to remove all the pews and an altar inside the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel. The pews were ripped from the floor and replaced with portable chairs 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 what happened at Wichita State wasn’t so much a renovation as it was a Christian cleansing. Anything remotely related to the décor of a Christian church was given the heave-ho.

The chapel’s stained glass windows are still intact — for now. But I would not be terribly surprised if they’re boarded up for the sake of inclusivity.

“That space was always viewed as an interfaith for lots of folks,” WSU administrator Eric Sexton told me. “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.”

Nevertheless, the removal of the pews and altar was a step too far for alumni and donors.

“Why did they have to take out all the pews,” alum Jean Ann Cusick wrote on Facebook.

Student body president Joseph Shepard told the Wichita Eagle that the outrage over the renovation 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.”

The original renovation request came from a resolution presented to the student government association earlier this year.

The campus newspaper reported that the school’s roughly 1,000 Muslim students needed a space on campus to pray and the idea was to renovate the chapel “into a flexible, faith neutral space where the spiritual needs of all students, faculty and staff can be accommodated.” About 15,000 students attend WSU.

The proposal went on to describe the chapel as a “predominantly Judeo-Christian environment” — hence the need for a faith neutral makeover.

But now the makeover could be getting a makeover.

There was so much outrage President Bardo has ordered a committee to be formed to study possible changes.

“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, Muslims students have presented a petition calling for the university to install Islamic-friendly plumbing. They want handheld bidets installed in restrooms around campus.

This is what the Islamic transformation of a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values looks like, folks. The Christian faith is marginalized while the Islamic faith is given accommodation.

I documented this phenomenon in my latest book, “God Less America.” Check out the chapter titled, “One Nation Under Allah.”

I still can’t help but wonder whatever became of the altar and the pews. A university spokesman tells me they were more than likely hauled away by the facilities department.

But, he said, no one knows for sure.

I reckon the best case scenario is they’re in storage. The worst case scenario? They were sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

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