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Does the Law Require Catholic U to Build a Mosque?

By Gregory S. Baylor posted on:
October 17, 2017

George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf has accused the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, DC, of discriminating against Muslim students at Catholic University of America (CUA).  Banzhaf complains that CUA has denied Muslim students "the same equal access to its facilities and services enjoyed by other student groups, including Jewish ones, solely on the basis of their religion."  More specifically, he contends that:

usually, or at least frequently, these Muslim students at CUA find that they must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians, etc. – which many Muslim students find inappropriate and not especially conducive to praying according to their very different religious beliefs. Furthermore, some Muslim students find they must do their meditation in the 'school's chapels and at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus - the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception' – hardly a place where students of a very different religion are likely to feel very comfortable.

In an interesting bit of "reasoning," Banzhaf contends that CUA has no good religious reason for not better "accommodating" Muslim prayer because nearby Georgetown University will soon offer Muslim prayer space at a new interfaith center.

Surely Banzhaf doesn't think the Archbishop is legally obliged to either tear down the Basilica or build a mosque on the CUA campus?  Right?

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Gregory S. Baylor

Gregory S. Baylor

Senior Counsel for Government Affairs, Director of Center for Religious Schools

Gregory S. Baylor serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is the director of the Center for Religious Schools and Senior Counsel for Government Affairs.


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