VMI Dinner Prayer

The taboos against state-sponsored prayer have also made their way onto college campuses. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, has conducted dinner prayer ceremonies since the 1950s. During the ritual, the cadets march to dinner in formation, then hear a prayer from a school chaplain, which changes daily. In May 2001, the ACLU filed suit against VMI on behalf of Neil Mellen and Paul Knick, two cadets who objected to the prayer ceremony. The school defended the tradition, saying that it was not endorsing religion because the prayer was non-denominational and voluntary for the students, who are adults. In January 2002, U.S. district judge Norman K. Moon sided with the plaintiffs in ruling the practice unconstitutional. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision on April 28, 2003, stating, "While the First Amendment does not in any way prohibit VMI's cadets from praying before, during, or after supper, the Establishment Clause prohibits VMI from sponsoring such a religious activity." The court rejected the contention that the prayer was voluntary because the extraordinary obedience required of the cadets supposedly negated the voluntary nature of the exercise. Because two students didn't feel comfortable while the rest of the students were enjoying a prayer, the entire tradition had to be scrapped, with virtually no thought given to the encroachment on the religious freedom of the participants.

Promoting Islam, Homosexuality, Pornography Pro-Islam

The attack on Christianity is seen not just in what is prohibited on campus, but also in what is promoted. When the topic under consideration is, say, Islam, homosexuality, or even pornography, students are urged to be open, diverse, accepting. Every conceivable idea is embraced, it seems, except Christianity.

Again, UNC-Chapel Hill has shown us the way. That august university required that all freshmen and transfer students read Approaching the Quran: The Early Revelations, a book of excerpts from the Islamic holy book. The university website described the volume as a book of "enduring interest" that introduces the literature and culture of a "profound moral and spiritual tradition." Later the website's blurb was revised, saying that reading the book would no longer be required, but that students who declined to read it because they found it "offensive to their own faith" had to write a one-page paper explaining why they chose not to read it. The inconsistency between the university's approach to the Koran and its attitude toward the Bible and other Christian materials is staggering. Can you imagine the apoplexy that would have ensued from the liberal community had this been a book about the Bible?

Some of our major universities don't have the same reluctance toward Muslim speakers as they do toward Christian ones. In fact, a willingness among universities to give even pro-terrorist Islamist speakers a campus platform, in stark contrast to the animus displayed toward Christians, could be seen in an incident at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Michael Curtiss, a Christian second-year resident in the Wausau Family Practice program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, claimed he was persecuted because he asked a couple of "innocuous questions" during a required 2002 lecture on Islam. This particular one, by two first-year Muslim residents, was on the subject of Islam and Muslim culture, and "no medical topics were discussed at all," said Curtiss. "There was no point to the lecture other than to give them a forum to expound their religious views. They wouldn't have given me two and a half hours to teach about Christianity, not that I would expect them to." During the presentation, in what Curtiss said was an acknowledged effort to evangelize, one of the men sang prayers to Allah, preached the benefits of Islam for women, and explained the Five Pillars of Islam. Some residents became uncomfortable when the Muslim speaker refused to condemn suicide bombers and admitted donating funds to their families.

Curtiss said he questioned the lecturer about six times, citing Scripture, insisting that he did so in an "informative, and non-insulting manner." Following the lecture, Curtiss alleges, one of the Islamic residents, Altaf Kaiserruddin, called him into a room and told him his contract would not be renewed. Two days later, according to Curtiss, he received a letter confirming that he was being terminated. He said that when he asked why, university officials would give no reason for their decision. Curtiss filed a complaint against the university with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for religious discrimination. The university denied the allegations. "The established curriculum of the Department of Family Medicine Residency Program includes occasional informational presentations about different cultures," said University public affairs spokesman Michael Felber. "The purpose of these presentations is to adequately prepare residents to deliver high quality medical care to people of different backgrounds." But, Curtiss contends, no other cultural presentations had taken place. "We don't really have Muslims here, and there's no foreseeable influx of Muslims to Northern Wisconsin."

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