FORT WORTH, TX — Controversy is stirring over a recent news report surrounding a special prayer room at Texas Wesleyan University that was established at the request of a Muslim student group.
The Rambler, the student publication for the university, published an article on November 19th about the prayer room, explaining its purpose, the story behind its inception and its uses.
“The reasons for this (prayer room) are twofold,” Chaplain Dr. Robert K. Flowers told the publication. “One, to show hospitality to our foreign students and, two, our campus needs to be open and tolerant of other faith traditions whether it is Islam, Hindu, Jewish, or otherwise.”
The prayer room was established last year at the request of Mohamed Khalid Alshafei, the president of the Saudi students club, who met with university President Frederick Slabach about the matter. The article noted that Saudi–or Muslim–students pray about five times a day and have certain rituals surrounding their observances.
“We have to be cleaned before we pray,” Alshafei stated. “We believe that when we pray, we will be between the hands of God.”
Therefore, the prayer room is held in the Morton Fitness Center and faces Mecca in compliance with Islamic requirements.
According to the university website, Texas Wesleyan University, founded in 1890 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, welcomes students of all religions, even though its history is rooted in Methodism.
“Throughout its history, the University has remained closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church,” it explains. “The University maintains special relationships with several United Methodist congregations, and some of the trustees are representatives of the United Methodist Church.”
But, “[i]n keeping with Methodist tradition, the university welcomes individuals of all faiths and is thoroughly inclusive in its practices,” the site continues.
However, some are expressing concerns about the university’s prayer room, stating that a school that identifies as being affiliated with the United Methodist Church should not accommodate those of the Islamic faith.
“Texas Wesleyan has dangerously aligned itself with Islam, not unlike most colleges across the United States. However, the Methodist affiliated private university, which doesn’t mean the school is Christian by any stretch of the imagination, is caving to sharia,” reporter Janna Brock wrote on Freedom Outpost. “All in the name of ‘interfaith’ worship, which is surely the most outrageous claim. Islam does not co-exist.”
She said that she questions whether the room is really an interfaith venue, or is really a capitulation to Islam.
“Never does ‘interfaith’ mean anything but non-Christian activities, namely New Age practices,” she stated. “Today, the word ‘interfaith’ can be directly translated to mean Islam, with full sharia compliance.”
Comments under the Rambler article also expressed disapproval.
“I am disgusted by this submission to Islam. What’s next, a room for Rastafarians? How about Voodoo? Santa Ria? Devil worshippers?” a reader named Mark wrote. “You are supposed to be a Methodist university. What is wrong with this school?”
“I am appalled by this Methodist university,” another wrote. “My great grandfather Gifford was a Methodist circuit rider minister. He is probably rolling in his grave.”
Photo: David Tribble