All faith practices have bedrocks, certain cornerstones upon which both the religion and practice thereof are built and are considered irrevocable, nonnegotiable, foundational. When it comes to both Judaism and Christianity – that’d be the Ten Commandments. We look no further than the Old Testament book of Exodus to find them, and most Jews and Christian take that second one, “Thou shalt have no other gods” (Exodus 20:3) pretty seriously. Which is why a Christian university in Texas is raising eyebrows for its decision to provide space for students who have another god to worship on its campus.
“The Methodist-affiliated McMurry University dedicated the space in one of the school’s residential dorms for its Muslim students’ daily prayers.”
Some would see this as a watering down and others as a step toward inclusiveness. Leaving aside the obvious question of “why would a practicing Muslim want to attend a Christian school rather than attending a Muslim one?” one has to wonder how this decision plays into McMurry’s goals of developing Christian leaders?
The “Mission and Core Values” page on McMurry’s website is (oddly) broken as of this writing but another part of the site discussing the school’s mission asks, “How does a Christian university develop, equip and send the next generation of Christian servant leaders?” Its a good question. How does a Christian university develop Christian students into such Christian leaders if the students aren’t Christian to begin with?The story quotes student Hector Flores who added, ““Being Christians, we should be open to free religion and letting everyone do what they want to do…” Not exactly the words of Christ. One may wonder how this addition of a Muslim prayer room came into being at McMurry. Though initiated by students it appears it was the University Chaplain who took point in making it happen! University Chaplain “…Jeff Lust, and Dr. Mark Waters, professor of religion and director of international education, reportedly helped the students in their effort.”
So Chaplain Lust (hey, the guy can’t help the name he was born with) provided an assist on the project. Lust gave an interview to local news, KTXS channel 12, and added that the Muslim prayer room is “a step in the right direction.” A Christian school providing space for its students to violate one of the core beliefs of its faith represents that school moving in the right direction? Imagine what a move in the wrong direction would look like.
The room is also slated to serve as a meeting place for a new interfaith club on McMurry’s campus.
One can’t help but to wonder how lessons in a class specifically on the book of Exodus at McMurry must go. From outward appearances we can only presume the syllabus includes two weeks of lectures on “The Nine Commandments.”
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]