Religious Accommodation—Harvard Style

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Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus has an interesting column today about Harvard University's decision to close one of its gyms to men for six hours per week to accommodate the desire of Muslim women for unisex exercise. Marcus also notes that some Harvard students have objected to broadcasting over a loudspeaker the Muslim call to prayer from the steps of the university's main library during Islamic Awareness Week. Apparently they objected to the fact that the traditional prayer makes the exclusionary claim: "There is no lord except God." As Marcus reports:

Three graduate students, writing in the Crimson, argued that the prayer sowed "seeds of division and disrespect" by declaring that "there is no lord except God" and that "Mohammad is the Messenger of God." Harvard, they wrote, "should not grant license to any religious group, minority or otherwise, to use a loudspeaker to declare false the profoundly important and personal beliefs of others."

I wonder what the protesters would have thought if some students had similarly recited the Nicene Creed during Christianity Awareness Week?

As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses. And of course, if a student, alum or faculty member doesn't like it, they can complain or leave.

Whole Marcus column here.

Note: Just googling around, I apparently missed several possible religious awareness weeks, e.g., Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, and perhaps in the future, Christian-Fascism Awareness Week. Wouldn't it be fun if we could hold them all on the same week?

Disclosure: My views on religion are somewhat similar to those of Christopher Hitchens.

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  1. How does Harvard enforce standards of academic honesty on female muslim students? How can they verify that the burka-clad person taking the final exam is the person enrolled in the course and not a hired substitute?

  2. People have the right to offend and the right to be offended. And if crazy extremist Christians and crazy extremist Muslims wish to annihilate one another like matter and anti-matter, more power to them.

    Thankfully since Harvard is private, we won’t get stuck with the cleaning bill.

  3. Islamic Awareness Week? Because issues involving Islam are so low-profile the rest of the year?

  4. As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses. And of course, if a student, alum or faculty member doesn’t like it, they can complain or leave.

    Can they stand on the steps of the library with a bull horn and proclaim “Mohammad was a fraud”? As a private institution that accepts government funds, does Harvard have the right to regulate speech on campus? Or Do Harvard students have a right to freedom of speech?

  5. As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses. And of course, if a student, alum or faculty member doesn’t like it, they can complain or leave.

    Alas, this is increasingly a distinction without a difference. The University of Virginia, for example, now receives less than 9% of its funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of course, like all U.S. research universities, UVA receives vast sums of federal cash every year. And so, of course, does Harvard and every other ‘private’ school. Does anyone here believe Constitutional law is likely to start considering the likes of UVA to be basically a private institution and not subject to 1st Amendment restrictions or is the opposite more likely?

  6. Just to be clear — I think campus speech codes are odious in the extreme. BTW, if Mohammed and Jesus were not frauds, they were at least delusional.

  7. Harvard is private? How much government money do they receive again?

    Maybe we can just have a re-enactment of the Crusades on college campuses. Wouldn’t bother me.

  8. If someone declares “I bear witness that there is no lord except God” (which is what the call to prayer literally says), how is that imposing anything on anyone else, or how is using a loudspeaker a declaration that “the profoundly important and personal beliefs of others” (emphasis added) false?

    I declare that these three students are plain stupid.

    Thanks, Ron, for the good post.

  9. And it is interesting that this is viewed from a “religious accommodation” point of view, rather than a freedom of speech one.

  10. Quoting Hitchens:

    Not all monotheistic religions are the same at the moment. They are all based on the same illusions, they are all plagiarisms of each other, but there is one in particular which at the moment is posing a serious menace, not just to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but to quite a lot of other freedoms too. This religion exhibits the horrible trio of self-hatred, self-righteousness and self-pity. I’m talking about militant Islam. Globally it’s a gigantic power. It controls an enormous amount of oil wealth, several large countries and states, with an enormous fortune, and it’s pumping the ideology of wahabism and salafism around the world, poisoning societies where it goes, ruining the minds of children, stultifying the young in its madrasas, training people in violence, making a cult of death and suicide and murder. That’s what it does globally. It’s quite strong. In our societies it poses as a cringing minority whose faith you might offend, which deserves all the protection that a small and vulnerable group might need.

    Fuck Muslims.

  11. Disclosure: My views on religion are somewhat similar to those of Christopher Hitchens.

    An Atheist! Clearly, Ron is shilling for Big Nothing.

    Say, when’s Harvard holding a Nothing Awareness Week to be fair to their atheist students?

  12. “the prayer sowed “seeds of division and disrespect” by declaring that “there is no lord except God”

    Maybe if the students could just get over their goddam selves for three seconds they’d see that stamping out the Muslim call to voodoo is more disrespectful than letting it go on and ignoring it.

    I used to wake up to Church bells every Sunday from St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral. I’m an atheist. Making a big stink about it would have been the most divisive and disrespectful thing to do. Same here with Mr. Harvard fancy pants.

  13. Did Rev. Wright have anything to say about Muslims?

  14. I got sick of the Jesus-shouters that used to show up in the student commons every spring in my University proclaiming that everyone was going to rot in hell. The guy needs to grow up and deal with it.

  15. Ali:

    “And it is interesting that this is viewed from a “religious accommodation” point of view, rather than a freedom of speech one.”

    Eeveryone should have every right to stand on their rooftop and proclaim whatever they want.

    They don’t automatically have any right to stand on someone else’s rooftop and do the same, and that includes using a loudspeaker on the campus.

    Private property rights give the owner the right to determine who is allowed on the property, and what they can and can’t do while they’re there.

    Since the President and Fellows of Harvard University own the campus property, they get to decide who does what, where and when.

    That’s why it’s a “religious accommodation” issue, and not a freedom of speech issue. They have no fundamental right to use the loudspeaker unless the property owner allows them to.

  16. But seriously, people, especially Ron, the call to prayer does not declare anything about others’ faith (or lack of which). It literally says “*I* bear witness that…” Nothing at all about what others believe or disbelief, or should bear witness to or not.

    Stop fussing around, people! You start to remind me of Muslims fussing about some cartoons.

  17. Russ-

    Did you miss the part that the students get permission from the school for the entire freaking week, including the use of a loudspeaker?

    No private property rights violations here. Sorry.

  18. Islam appears to be increasingly like Fosterism.

  19. Russ, and my point is that I find interesting that when Muslims say something some may find distasteful, it is no longer a matter of free speech (which seems to apply very well regarding the danish cartoons, but for some reason not here), but a matter of “religious accommodation” (with the implication that it should not be done condoned).

  20. Islam? I am unaware.

  21. Oh, my Allah. What next?

    As an atheist, I can agree with the first three words of the English translation of the call to prayer.

    If Muslims want to say more, I have no problem with it.

    Free speech includes the right to say things others find obnoxious.

  22. Cab- I doubt that Banzhaf is a libertarian, to say the least. He does have an argument in there since Harvard does receive some public funds. The way I see it is that the problem is that Harvard violated public trust, as opposed to being discriminatory.

  23. Aresen- 🙂

  24. “I wonder what the protesters would have thought if some students had similarly recited the Nicene Creed during Christianity Awareness Week? ”

    I don’t know about these guys but I gaurentee you a lot of people who are not saying anything right now would be having kittens. It is bad enough to have an evironment where you can infringe on everyone else’s freedom by claiming to be offended. It is even worse when only some groups can be offended and some protected groups are allowed to do things that no one else would. Havard would never blast the Nicean Creed over loudspeakers and would never bow to a Christian group’s request for seperate sex gyms. The fact that they will for Muslims shows that the adminstration and faculty are comprised of anti-Christian bigots and cowards afraid of offending Muslims.

  25. Apparently they objected to the fact that the traditional prayer makes the exclusionary claim: “There is no lord except God.”

    I don’t see why they would object to that. The three major monotheistic religions all claim the same.

    This is little more than the ringing of church bells.

    Plus, if they disagree, Harvard students are presumably free to yell back “No he isn’t!”

  26. The fact that they will for Muslims shows that the adminstration and faculty are comprised of anti-Christian bigots and cowards afraid of offending Muslims.

    In your head, may be. Give evidence that the school discriminated against or oppressed Christian or other religious groups.

    You are also assuming that the Muslim students at Harvard are the same kind of Muslims as the ones who make threats of violence (e.g., the ones responding to the cartoons). So by accommodating Harvard Muslim students, Harvard is afraid of violent Muslims elsewhere (and not at Harvard)? Unless, of course, all Muslims are violent and should be feared.

  27. Havard would never blast the Nicean Creed over loudspeakers

    That’s not a Christian tradition, as far as I know.

  28. Three graduate students, writing in the Crimson, argued that the prayer sowed “seeds of division and disrespect” by declaring that “there is no lord except God” and that “Mohammad is the Messenger of God.” Harvard, they wrote, “should not grant license to any religious group, minority or otherwise, to use a loudspeaker to declare false the profoundly important and personal beliefs of others.”

    Give me a loudspeaker. I’ll proclaim all of their profoundly important delusional personal beliefs false.

  29. There would be outrage over blasting the Nicene Creed, just from a different crowd than the one that would be outraged over the call to prayer being blasted.

  30. Dean Esmay, you just blew your cover as joe’s context troll.

  31. … the adminstration and faculty are comprised of anti-Christian bigots and cowards afraid of offending Muslims.

    Just to keep things in perspective, there is a gigantic Christian church in the middle of Harvard’s campus with a two-ton bell in its belfry.

  32. The fact that they will for Muslims shows that the adminstration and faculty are comprised of anti-Christian bigots and cowards afraid of offending Muslims.

    Yeah, those poor persecuted Xians in America. My atheist heart goes out to you. Perhaps you can console yourself by listening to the ubiquitous church bells every Sunday morning, when sane people are trying to sleep in.

  33. Epi,

    Curses, foiled by cookies again!

    But it’s Dave, actually. And like there was much doubt anyway.

    So by accommodating Harvard Muslim students, Harvard is afraid of violent Muslims elsewhere (and not at Harvard)?

    That would not be unreasonable. Harvard presumably has professors visiting places all over the world.

    I doubt fear is an issue here, though. If someone was proposing to write a thesis on why Muhammad was not divine, perhaps they could reasonably fear for their safety. I doubt anyone would get that upset over speakers.

  34. Didnt Harvard at one time require church attendance? When did they get rid of that? I think they should bring it back and require moslem students to attend and see what the reaction is. Heck, the reaction from the atheist students would be great to watch.

  35. Answering my question above: google search says mid 1880s.

    The point is not that I favor manditory chapel attendance, but that I bet the lawsuits would happen immediately. And Im not sure Harvard would win. Actually, Im sure they wouldnt.

  36. This is nothing personal against Bailey, but I have to ask: when did this “disclosure” thing gain popularity? It reeks of postmodernism — that somehow we must reveal our biases in order to make claims on issues.

    Of course, I find that most “disclosures” are really just “fun” ways of slipping in personal facts and other things that could just as easily be written into the main text.

    Again, nothing personal RB. I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    Excuse me…

    Disclosure: I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

  37. when did this “disclosure” thing gain popularity?

    It’s a running gag, Mr. No Sense of Humor in The Morning.

  38. Democratic Republican-

    Back around three or four years ago on H&R, whenever Bailey would make a post about global warming or energy independence or pretty much anything, a bunch of liberals would come on and say something like “Why don’t you tell us how much stock you own in XYZ comany?”

    Its kind of a running joke.

  39. “How does Harvard enforce standards of academic honesty on female muslim students? How can they verify that the burka-clad person taking the final exam is the person enrolled in the course and not a hired substitute?”

    I cant sleep at night knowing that this is the case.

  40. Freedom sucks J Sub D. I hope the bells blair through your home every morning and make you as miserable as possible. The point is that we live in a world where schools won’t sing Christmas carols at assemblies for fear of offending the stray ear of an athiest but we will let Muslims practice sex descrimination in gyms.

    What the hell is the rule here? If the idea is that we will live in J Sub D land and have no freedom of religous expression and shut the church bells down to keep from offending his delicate ears, fine let’s have that debate. But that is not what is happening here. Athiests apparently are only offended by some religions. While the sound of a church bell will apparently send him screaming into terror over the possibility of a theocracy, sex segregation and calls to prayer affirming one God and that is Allah, are apparently ok. Bullshit. If religion is going to go from the public square, all religion should go, not just those that it is okay to pick on.

  41. “As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses. And of course, if a student, alum or faculty member doesn’t like it, they can complain or leave.”

    Well, ok, but this has nothing to do with the issue at Harvard right now. MA is not passing a law preventing Harvard from making its own gym policies. The question is whether Harvard wants to be the kind of place where religious observances are accommodated, and if so, how that accommodation impacts other students.

    Also, “complain or leave” is a pretty narrow range of options in dealing with our institutions. I disagree that Harvard’s administrators have that kind of “take it or leave it” authority and ownership over Harvard itself. Besides, isn’t “complain” pretty much the option chosen by students?

    Some students are simply afraid that Harvard will change the its pro-secular culture to one that allows religious peculiarities to impact its policies, e.g. co-ed gym space –> women only gym space.

  42. Just to keep things in perspective, there is a gigantic Christian church in the middle of Harvard’s campus with a two-ton bell in its belfry.

    You “facts” have no power over the persecution complex in John’s head. He already asserted what the university officials would and wouldn’t do if some poor persecuted Christians asked to do something similar. Why do you insist on trying to counter omniprescient John’s knowledge of the minds of Harvard administrators with your silly little “facts”??

  43. So Chicago Tom,

    You honestly believe that if some wacko Christian group came to Harvard and demanded a segregated gym, they would get a hearing? Give me a fucking break. They would get run off campus and you know it.

    As far as the church goes, there is no doubt a mosque or a muslim center on Harvard’s campus that functions as one. No one is complaining about that, so the analogy doesn’t hold. No one is saying there can’t be a church or a mosque on campus. If you weren’t such a smug jackass, you might be a little concerned about a major college practicing sex descrimination in the name of religion. Certainly if it were any religion other than Islam you would be.

  44. Plus, if they disagree, Harvard students are presumably free to yell back “No he isn’t!”

    Only if they are willing to risk being hauled up in front of whatever PC star chamber has for ensuring “diversity” and “respect”.

  45. a disclosure a day keep Gilmore at bay

  46. No one is saying there can’t be a church or a mosque on campus.

    Actually, you only think this because you don’t know anything about Islam.

    Islam’s call to prayer from the muezzin is the functional equivalent of Christian church bells. In fact, all the textual evidence we have indicates that the call to prayer was specifically modeled on Christian practice of ringing bells, with human voices used instead of bells as a deliberately contrived distinction for the new religion.

    Anyone who says that there can’t be a call to prayer at Harvard is, in fact, arguing against the presence of a mosque on campus.

    If you weren’t such a smug jackass, you might be a little concerned about a major college practicing sex descrimination in the name of religion.

    You mean the way Liberty University does?

    I’m not concerned about it at all. [In either case.] I don’t care what kind of discrimination private organizations conduct. Libertarians oppose Title IX just as much as they opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1963 and for the same reasons.

  47. John, you miss my point. Xians whining about persection is just plain stupid. You probably got offended when some congresscritter swore in using the Koran. The country is overwhelming Xian, I accept that reality. You could at least ackowledge it and stop acting like you’re manning the barricades of righteousness.

  48. I don’t know that this applies to this specific topic, but maybe it does.

    Ali, being the resident libertarian Muslim on H&R:

    Can you clarify once and for all whether or not there is a command or order in Islam for Muslims to generally obey the laws (or even customs?) of the land in which they reside?

    If there is indeed one, how does it apply to the current situation at Harvard mentioned in this post?

    How does it apply to other recent incidents where Muslims appear (whether or not they actually are) to be petitioning the state or other institution for what some might call “accommodation”? (The ones that jump to mind are the Minneapolis cabbie situation and the Florida woman’s driver’s license flap)

    More generally, how do Islam’s traditions (public call to prayer, hijab, etc.) square with any such command, as some of these can be considered in direct conflict with not only culture, but laws of the land?

    Up to now, my own anecdotal observations are that just about every Muslim I have come into contact with in NE Ohio completely minds their own business and doesn’t seem to seek out these accommodations in any real way.

  49. Fluffy,

    Just as another anecdote, AFAIK, the (rather large, modern and impressive) mosque in the Akron area does not have a broadcast call.

    Then again, that may be because it abuts a mixture of light industrial and a bit of residential, but very little else (as in, there ain’t much else in earshot).

  50. I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me

    Sound familiar?

  51. There was also a little something in there on the subject of graven images, as I recall.

  52. Fluffy,

    I am well aware of the Muslim call to prayer. And the Islamic Center at Harvard probably has one and no one cares nor should they. I am not even saying that there is anything wrong with blasting the call to prayer on the front steps during Muslim week or whatever it was. My point is that if you did that in any other context or blasted the Nicean Creed from the front steps the very same people who think that the call to prayer is “diversity” would scream bloody murder. That is bullshit.

    Either there are standards or there aren’t. Christianity is in no danger from jackass having a fit over Christmas carols at school assemblies. But that is not the point. The point is that we can’t have two rules. If it is wrong to blare the Nicean Creed it is wrong to blare the call to prayer. I would air on the side of freedom and let people blare whatever they want. But of course we can’t er to the side of freedom because as soon as someone you don’t like choses to express their religion, you and J Sub D and Chicago Tom will be screaming about the establishment clause. Just apply your rules and sensibilities evenly.

  53. Funny thing is, Harvard started out as the Bob Jones University of its day. It was a Puritan seminary, and it seems that they only thing Harvard has preserved from that time is their deep conviction that Harvard grads are entitled to tell everyone else what to do.

    -jcr

  54. Will the gym have “no Jews allowed” hours next term? For the sake of, you know, sensitivity.

  55. I was in high school in the mid to late 1990s, and every year at the Christmas assembly we had some pretty religious carols sung by our choir (even had “Jesus” in some of them) and nobody said anything.

  56. Without taking any position on this particular issue, can I just ask that we all accept that making “accommodations” for a group that comprises less than 5% of the community is completely different from making accommodations for a group that has to be at least a 75% majority?

    The former may realistically feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and such accommodations may help them to feel more welcome, while exposing the majority to their traditions, which can be an important learning opportunity.

    I’m not sure why the majority would need additional outlets to reinforce their traditions.

  57. How about the people who require heightened privacy build their own gym?

  58. Ali, being the resident libertarian Muslim on H&R

    Hehe… 🙂 Damn, I keep forgetting to ask reason to send me the check. I like the thought though.

    So, in my capacity as the resident libertarian Muslim here…

    Can you clarify once and for all whether or not there is a command or order in Islam for Muslims to generally obey the laws (or even customs?) of the land in which they reside?

    As in Jewish law, as once edna on this board mentioned, and as mentioned in numerous places in the Quran (including Joseph’s story), a Muslim has to abide by the law of the land, even if they conflict with basic Islamic teachings, unless there is coercion to give up the faith (which I do not imagine happenning in the US or any other Western country. That coercion can happen in some Islamic countries is appalling, but I am sure there will be other occasions to discuss this).

    How does it apply to other recent incidents where Muslims appear (whether or not they actually are) to be petitioning the state or other institution for what some might call “accommodation”?

    I think you are referring to the “sink” thingy up in Minneapolis. AFAIK, they are making a request for it, but not demanding it. Because they can’t demand it based on Islamic law. Even if the special sinks for washing were mandated Islamically, there is no doctrine in Islam saying that a Muslim has to change the law of the land as long as it is non-Muslim land. There is nothing in there, though, that prohibits them from making friendly requests to the State to accommodate them.

    More generally, how do Islam’s traditions (public call to prayer, hijab, etc.) square with any such command, as some of these can be considered in direct conflict with not only culture, but laws of the land?

    Again, AFAIK, the law of the land takes precedence since it is not a majority Muslim country.

    Regarding the call to prayer, the same rule applies. That is why something like 99% of mosques (in fact, I think there is only one in Detroit that is allowed to make a call to prayer) do not make the call to prayer.

    Which raises a good point, why allow Church bells but not Muslim call to prayer. Either ban all (which is what I favor because the sound infringes on the private properties of others), or don’t pick one over the other.

  59. How about the people who require heightened privacy build their own gym?

    I second that.

  60. “Which raises a good point, why allow Church bells but not Muslim call to prayer. Either ban all (which is what I favor because the sound infringes on the private properties of others), or don’t pick one over the other.”

    I agree. I don’t have a problem with them doing it as long as everyone can.

  61. John, I really don’t give a crap about the manger display in front of city hall for the winter solstice. No, tax dollars should not be expended for it. But if a good christan wants to pay for it, more power to them.

    Do you really believe that accomodations are never granted to christians? Spring break dates, at Harvard, U of M, and all the K-12 schools seems to change every year. That it ALWAYS corresponds to the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox (Easter) is just a coincidence, right? In Michigan, the liquor laws for Sunday, (christian holy day) are different than the rest of the week. No accomodation there, huh? December 25th is the one day of the year that liquor sales are prohibited. Do you think it might have to do with accomodating some birthday celebration that occurs then? The government has, and continues, to make accomodations for Christians on a regulsr basis. Now you have the audacity to bitch because some other superstition gets a little bone thrown their way.

    Wah!

  62. J Sub D,

    All those examples you give are the result of tradition and the majority of the people voting that way. I don’t care if they sell liquer on Sundays and neither do most Christians. You want to know why they don’t? Because the restaurant and bar lobbys love to have a monopoly on Sunday liquer sales. The religous reasons for those laws died years ago. What is left is the interest groups keeping them in place.

    Furhter, Islam can have whatever concessions it can get as long as every other religion gets the same. Again, do you think for a minute that Harvard would make such a concession to Christians? No way.

  63. John. This is an easy one:

    Don’t go to Harvard.

    See? All your problems are solved.

  64. Without taking any position on this particular issue, can I just ask that we all accept that making “accommodations” for a group that comprises less than 5% of the community is completely different from making accommodations for a group that has to be at least a 75% majority?

    Equal protection under the law conceivably comes into play here. But that isn’t a complaint of mine. I know that in a secular muslim nation, more social and governmental accomadations will be made for the dominant faith. IMHO a muslim in Istanbul complaining about christian church bells would be whining. He would deserve any mocking that comes his way.

  65. But of course we can’t er to the side of freedom because as soon as someone you don’t like choses to express their religion, you and J Sub D and Chicago Tom will be screaming about the establishment clause.

    Says who?

    I stand up for the Establishment clause on public property. As I think any good American should.

    But I don’t believe and have never claimed that the fact that Harvard receives public money for research makes it public property. I have always found that argument specious. If Harvard becomes public property because it receives a subsidy, then the apartment of anyone who gets a Section 8 housing subsidy is public property, the house of anyone who gets social security is public property, etc.

    I have also loudly supported the right of [for example] public schoolchildren to talk to their classmates about religion, or to hand them candy with religious messages, etc.

    I have also aggressively argued that taking tax money from fundamentalists to teach children that their Bible is false probably itself violates their rights, and despite my disdain for fundamentalists I’m more than willing to sacrifice the public school system in its entirety to prevent the taxation of believers for the spread of ideas that contradict their beliefs.

    So don’t tell me that I only worry about the Establishment clause when it only goes my way.

  66. Sorry, I don’t hold with the argument that Harvard, as a private institution, can do whatever it wants. Harvard is a corporation, an “artificial person,” created out of nothing by legal fiat. The rights of such an artificial person can be as extensive, or as limited, as the state wishes.

    Furthermore, Harvard is a non-profit, with special advantages not given to real persons. I’m sure Harvard is not free to refuse to accept Black students.

    I would not like to have to listen to anyone’s call to prayer, particularly if it was delivered over a loudspeaker.

    Over the centuries, western religions have learned not to intrude their most clearly obnoxious beliefs into the public square. Evangelical Christians have learned the hard way not to talk about the Anti-Christ, even though there’s plenty of such talk in the Bible.

    In return, society politely ignores the hopeless confusion that is “theology” (of whatever brand). Fundamentalist Muslims make a point of being as “uncompromising” as possible. We shouldn’t accommodate them.

  67. Alan,

    Do you realize that this call to prayer was just a freaking demo? Over 1 (one) week?

  68. Fundamentalist Muslims make a point of being as “uncompromising” as possible. We shouldn’t accommodate them.

    Um, why not? This is the MLK/Ghandi “kill ’em with kindness” strategy that makes you look reasonable and your opponent look like an asshole. It works, and well, when it is tried seriously.

    Nobody is arguing we should compromise our physical security, and short of that, “cultural accomodation” is no *threat* to a society of free-thinking and free-choosing individuals. If we have nothing to lose by seeming reasonable, why not do it and make the opponents look as fools?

  69. Won’t somebody please think of the Spanish Inquisition?

  70. I would not like to have to listen to anyone’s call to prayer, particularly if it was delivered over a loudspeaker.

    But Frank Meriweather’s two yard off tackle plunge gets blated out over campus loudspeakers every home game. Is that a violation of your rights?

  71. Mad Max,

    Also, tying this to Obama would be interesting. I mean, come on, we’re discussing Harvard here, and Islam for God’s sake. I heard Obama is Muslim.

  72. JsubD … you claimed that this is a majority Christian nation. No, it’s not. People may tell the pollsters that, but in reality they are giving a very convenient answer to a generic question.
    The vast majority of people I know that would say they are Christians actually don’t know shit about Jesus, the Old or New Testaments, and could not name three apostles. They adhere to a very bland, murky and ill-defined sort of monotheism that happens to have Christ (sometimes) at it’s center. Church attendance has plummeted, and what used to be called “practicing” your faith is dwindling fast.
    We are actually entering the post-Christian era in America, and as in most things, we are simply catching up to broader cultural trends first realized in Europe decades ( some would say centuries ) ago.

  73. And what this portends is a future very much like that found in Europe today … post-Christian, overwhelmingly secular, but with a large, un-integrated Muslim population that is given gigantic accommodations despite their frequent violent outbursts

  74. People may tell the pollsters that, but in reality they are giving a very convenient answer to a generic question.

    Munchies, does this mean you are the real authority on what it means to be a Christian and we can ignore everyone else who also thinks Jesus was divine? I hope so, because it will make atheist vs Christian arguments much easier to navigate. I get so confused when Catholics disagree with Episcopalians who disagree with Baptists.

    And then some Catholics have the nerve to disagree with the pope, and some fundamentalists disagree with Falwell. It has always been so hard to keep you guys straight, I’m glad to know that someone is stepping up to be the final authority.

  75. But of course we can’t er to the side of freedom because as soon as someone you don’t like choses to express their religion, you and J Sub D and Chicago Tom will be screaming about the establishment clause.

    John,

    one day, I hope to meet you and you can show me how to read minds and how you know for a fact what people would do in response to any hypothetical situation you think of. It is an awesome skill.

    Oh and regardless of whether Christian “traditions” are older or have been around longer in the USA — they are still an accommodation to poor persecuted Christians.

  76. stuartl… no, I am not the “authority”. I simply gave an observation from my personal experience. I feel that it is a reasoned supposition. I am not denying that there is a large number of people, of varying denominations, that practice their faith and are well-informed. What I am saying is that we are not, as JsubD contended, a truly “Christian” nation. Stated more simply, we are not a nation comprised of people that are actively practicing the Christian faith or that have that much knowledge about the core tenets of Christianity.

  77. Um, doesn’t the private sector already include some chains of female-only gyms? Clearly there’s a market for it. Muslim students might be the ones most vocally demanding it at Harvard, but I wouldn’t be shocked if other female students also take advantage of the female-only gym hours.

    Curves Gym: Dhimmitude since 1992.

  78. “””I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me”””

    Ah the first of the 10 Commandments. PBrooks, you beat me to it.

    The hypocracy lies in people who want the 10 commandments in the schools and the courts, yet have a problem with the example in this thread.

    I’m not religious, and I have no problem with Harvard promoting the religion within the context of learn about a religion week. That’s far, far, far, away from trying to demand you practice that religion as a way of life. Unlike those who wish to place the 10 Commandments in public buildings 24/7.

    I am confused about some of the responses to John posts. He seems to take the proper 1st amendment approach, what is good for one religion is good for another, and all religions should be equal under law, and there is no religious test for citizens. Although he would prefer to hear neither, he’s standing for religious equality. No?

    “”What I am saying is that we are not, as JsubD contended, a truly “Christian” nation. Stated more simply, we are not a nation comprised of people that are actively practicing the Christian faith or that have that much knowledge about the core tenets of Christianity.”””

    That’s true. We are a secular nation where people are free to practice any religion of their choosing. As long as you don’t stockpile guns at the same time.

    Even if it was true that we are a nation of Christians, we would not be Christian nation.

  79. Which raises a good point, why allow Church bells but not Muslim call to prayer.

    i hate the friggin bells. i think that if a church can do that, i can get a bullhorn, go out front of it (that tax-exempt place!), and start screaming about jesus being a fake and priests being pedophiles while they’re filing in for services.

    i say that as an intermittently resident oenophilic mizrahi vegetarian.

  80. I’m not concerned about it at all. [In either case.] I don’t care what kind of discrimination private organizations conduct. Libertarians oppose Title IX just as much as they opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1963 and for the same reasons.

    Fluffy, is this really the case? Don’t you think there is often something wrong with discrimination based on sex? You don’t have to believe the government should outlaw it in order to care about it.

  81. I wonder what the protesters would have thought if some students had similarly recited the Nicene Creed during Christianity Awareness Week?

    We all know the answer to this. No Christianity Awareness Week would be allowed, let alone the speaking of the Nicene Creed. This isn’t because of any “law”, but because of the leftist hypersensitivity commonly known as Political Correctness. I dare say that if it weren’t a Republican Administration antagonistic towards Muslims in power, that the left wouldn’t be allowing this prayer on their campus. The Muslims are *oppressed*, after all, and must therefore get special treatment.

    Anyone here old enough to remember history before Bush took office? Remember when the left actually *criticized* the Taliban and other extremist Islamic groups? Remember when feminists used to critize female genital mutilation instead of championing the right of Muslim women to wear burkas?

  82. Can we broadcast “God is dead, and we have killed him” from the library steps on Nietzsche’s birthday?

    Because that would be cool. And not at all offensive.

  83. Went to a school honors induction thingy the other night. The young person that is the president of the national honor society chapter here at the high school said a nice christian prayer in the name of jesus to kick things off. No muss,no fuss. Apparently. we are more tolerant and understanding here than some other places.

  84. http://www.memorialchurch.harvard.edu/

    Brandybuck, I invite you to peruse the website of this church located on the Harvard campus, sharing its web server, etc. They have prayers there every day.

    And you are aware that Harvard University includes a Divinity School, right?

  85. Ali,

    I was actually referring to the airport cabbies refusing (and I believe wishing to ban) fares who even had unopened alcohol in their luggage, nevermind fares who appeared drunk or other such things.

  86. It’s no surprise that Harvard has gone all Muslim-y. They gave Christianity the finger a long time ago:

    In this point of view we become very sensible of the first defect of historical Christianity. Historical Christianity has fallen into the error that corrupts all attempts to communicate religion. As it appears to us, and as it has appeared for ages, it is not the doctrine of the soul, but an exaggeration of the personal, the positive, the ritual. It has dwelt, it dwells, with noxious exaggeration about the person of Jesus. The soul knows no persons. It invites every man to expand to the full circle of the universe, and will have no preferences but those of spontaneous love. But by this eastern monarchy of a Christianity, which indolence and fear have built, the friend of man is made the injurer of man.

    Damn Harvard. They’ll do or say anything to piss off God’s Chosen.

  87. DannyK

    Can we broadcast “God is dead, and we have killed him” from the library steps on Nietzsche’s birthday?

    GA.

    As for whether people will find it offensive: I suggest you wear a good pair of runners. A flak jacket might also come in handy. I have a suspicion that, for most people, “turn the other cheek” comes with an undisclosed “not applicable to infidels” rider.

  88. For the record, I posted
    “The country is overwhelming Xian, I accept that reality.”

    Munchies posted
    JsubD … you claimed that this is a majority Christian nation. No, it’s not.

    Ignoring the fact that I was being misquoted, this is from the good folks at the Census Bureau.

    Religious Identification of Adult Population:

    2001 figures –
    Adult population, 207,980,000
    Total Christian, 159,506,000Self-Described

    If you say you’re a Christian, I’m going to take you at your word. I’ll leave it to others to discern the nuanced differences between a real Christian and others.

  89. As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses. And of course, if a student, alum or faculty member doesn’t like it, they can complain or leave.

    And as a taxpayer, I have a right to petition to withhold federal funds from Harvard.

  90. How does Harvard enforce standards of academic honesty on female muslim students? How can they verify that the burka-clad person taking the final exam is the person enrolled in the course and not a hired substitute?

    It’s too bad that Teddy Kennedy wasn’t a burqa wearer when he was at Harvard. He could have maybe avoided his expulsion for having someone take his Spanish exam by having someone smarter than he dress up in his size XXXXXXL female Muslim garb.

  91. When I worked at a University, the law students were notorious for threatening to sue *all* staff they encountered and many of their fellow students for this, that, or the other thing. They were flexing their mental muscles, prepratory to going into the law ring after graduation.

    I can’t believe law students at Harvard will allow this travesty to continue since it is so blatently illegal, discriminatory and unconstitutional. And Harvard has such nice deep pockets should they win.

  92. America is a nominally Christian nation. If you ask someone about religion they will claim Christianity. They might even make it a point to drop in on an Easter service every couple of years.

    But mostly when they say Christian, it’s because, like my friend The Flooze, they think Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take The Wheel resonates with them on some deeper level.

    In real life, the only church service she managed as an adult was when the niece was baptized, and even then she snuck out for a smoke half way through.

    Ask her if she believes in God? Dam Straight she does. Ask her when the last time she read the Bible was? Well, she ain’t got one.

  93. Ask her if she believes in God? Dam Straight she does. Ask her when the last time she read the Bible was? Well, she ain’t got one.

    I misplaced my car’s operating manual, but I still know how to drive.

    Just sayin’. 😉

  94. I misplaced my car’s operating manual, but I still know how to drive.

    [chuckles]

    But without the operating manual you’re on the Highway to Hell. 🙂

    But we digress, the point is that The Flooze is more representative of Christian America than Pat Robertson’s flock.

  95. “The Flooze is more representative of Christian America than Pat Robertson’s flock.”

    And I think we can all thank god for that!

  96. And I think we can all thank god for that!

    You’ve been out with her, haven’t you?

  97. But without knowing what’s in the operating manual diverts you ‘re on from the Highway to Hell. 🙂 😛

    I just looked up your song. It reads more like an opening bid by Fiddler’s Tevye than something derived from Luther or Peter, but hey, anything to make the roads safer.

  98. I’m not a Christian, but anytime I see someone use “xian” instead of “Christian”, I know that person is an asshole.

    As for this “Muslim Awareness Week” crap. They should post a running tally of islamic terrorist attacks for the week so everyone can be completely aware of what’s going on in the muslim world.

    Here’s this weeks tally (starting Sunday):

    Date, Country, City, Killed, Injured, Description
    3/26/2008, Afghanistan, Helmand, 8, 17, Eight shoppers at an outdoor market are blown to bits by a Taliban car bomb.
    3/26/2008, Somalia, Jowhar, 7, 0, Mujahideen kill at least seven Somalis in an attack on an agricultural town.
    3/25/2008, Iraq, Basra, 31, 88, Thirty-three people are killed when a Shiite militia attacks government troops.
    3/25/2008, Pakistan, Swat, 2, 1, Islamic militants gun down a married couple as they are standing outside their home.
    3/25/2008, Pakistan, Swat, 2, 0, Two people are murdered by suspected al-Qaeda.
    3/25/2008, Pakistan, Bajaur, 1, 0, A man is killed in a landmine attack by suspected Islamic militants.
    3/24/2008, Afghanistan, Jawzjan, 5, 7, Religious extremists calmly shoot five Afghans to death. The workers were trying to clear landmines at the time.
    3/24/2008, Somalia, Mogadishu, 4, 0, A civilian is among four people killed when Islamic terrorists attack a police station.
    3/24/2008, Thailand, Yala, 1, 0, A 48-year-old man is murdered by Muslim gunmen after dropping his wife off at work.
    3/24/2008, Iraq, Baghdad, 2, 0, The bodies of two American civilians are found mutilated following their kidnapping.
    3/24/2008, Chechnya, Alleroi, 2, 0, Mujahideen murder two policemen with a homemade bomb.
    3/24/2008, Pakistan, North Waziristan, 1, 0, A young man is executed by al-Qaeda with a gunshot to the head.
    3/24/2008, Afghanistan, Heart, 6, 0, Religious extremists kill two farmers and four local police in an ambush.
    3/23/2008, Pakistan, Torkham, 2, 50, al-Qaeda terrorists bomb a restaurant and an oil facility, killing two people.
    3/23/2008, Somalia, Mogadishu, 1, 0, A doctor is reported killed in an attack by Islamic terrorists.
    3/23/2008, India, Srinagar, 4, 3, Lashker-e-Toiba militants ambush and kill four policemen.
    3/23/2008, Iraq, Baqubah, 2, 2, Two children are killed by a Jihad roadside attack.
    3/23/2008, Iraq, Mosul, 15, 45, Fifteen Iraqi security personnel are murdered by a suicidal Sunni bomber.
    3/23/2008, Iraq, Baghdad, 22, 34, Women and children are among the casualties as Islamic terrorists stage at least three separate attacks on civilians.
    3/23/2008, Iraq, Samarra, 5, 11, A Fedayeen suicide bomber kills five Iraqis.

  99. I think the protesting students should get a copy of the “offensive” Danish cartoon, blow it up to poster size, make 15 or 20 copies, and parade around the campus. They should also proclaim, “I bear witness that this cartoon isn’t that funny, but Bin Laden’s reaction to it is.”

    But that would only piss off some radical Muslims. To really piss of the vast majority of those on Harvard’s campus, the protesters should simply proclaim the American call to arms: The Declaration of Independence.” That might cause a riot 😉

  100. To really piss of the vast majority of those on Harvard’s campus, the protesters should simply proclaim the American call to arms: The Declaration of Independence.” That might cause a riot 😉

    Maybe.

  101. If they are Xians, wouldn’t that be pronounced Zy-ans? Like Xerox and Xylophone? or Zee-I-ans, like Xenon or Xenophobe?

    Or is it phonetic: EX E ANS?

  102. Fluffy – Are you telling me the Harvard Divinity School is allowed to broadcast the Nicene Creed through the loudspeakers of the library during Christian Awareness Week? Because that was what we were talking about.

  103. TWC – It can be phonetic. 🙂

  104. Xian, Xian, Xian.

    Just making sure that I get counted as an asshole in that guy’s book.

    Xian!

  105. It can be phonetic.

    About now you should have heard me groan. Without needin’ a phone.

  106. High #, is that pronounced Zion? Code for International Bankers.

  107. to accommodate the desire of Muslim women for unisex exercise

    They could try the fargin’ private sector. I think it’s called CURVES!

  108. Scroogle (never google) Xianity. Noughty stuff that surprised me, anyway.

  109. so, douchebag ivey eliteists (sp?) are upset that a group of free people are exercising their right to free speech at a nominally private university? I fear for us because we are so easily offended, I mean really, the muslim call to prayer affects the way their day works how?

  110. also, my dog hates loud noises.

  111. “MA is not passing a law preventing Harvard from making its own gym policies.”

    MA doesn’t have to pass such a law; it already has, as the Boston papers have noted.

    To qualify for exemption from the MA law against discrimination in public accommodation, a business has to not take government money and it has to be all-single-sex-fitness all the time. Part-time women, part-time co-ed is not allowed. It should take about 10 minutes in court for Harvard to be laughed out of “no-men” gym time.

    Laws aside, Harvard should have laughed themselves out of such a stupid idea in the first place.

  112. “Can we broadcast ‘God is dead, and we have killed him’ from the library steps on Nietzsche’s birthday?”

    As long as hecklers get to reply, “If you killed Him, where’s the body?”

    We know where Nietzsche’s grave is,

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1481

    At least until the coal companies move it:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,543222,00.html

  113. “”””They should post a running tally of islamic terrorist attacks for the week so everyone can be completely aware of what’s going on in the muslim world. “”””

    That’s an extremely narrow way of looking at it, since it represents only a very small percentage of what’s going on in the muslim world. One of the worlds greatest feats of engineering is happening in Dubi. Dubi is also bailing out some of our lending institutions.

    You can point to the war zones and complain about fighting, as if that makes sense. But while people like you are trying bury your head in the muslim/terrorist connection, muslims are kicking our ass on the world stage, in finance and engineering.

  114. The muslim world claiming credit for the engineering in Dubi would be like a music patron claiming credit for “Ode To Joy” or an art patron claiming credit for the “Mona Lisa”.

    Paying for something is a far cry from creating something.

  115. “As a private institution, Harvard should be allowed to make whatever accommodations it chooses”

    Does this joint receive any money from the US Government? If so, then you are wrong. Harvard should have the right not to receive any US tax dollars if they want to discriminate against men and non-Islamics.

  116. Perhaps you could hold off your snide and self-satisfying comments about the Nicene Code until Harvard actually broadcasts it over loudspeakers. When that happens I’ll buy you a beer and congratulate you on your wit. Till then I’ll only grant you half that.

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