Religious Accommodation—Harvard Style


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.