U Chicago’s Hagia Sophia

by Ian Tuttle

In case you thought this sort of thing was only happening in Europe:

Administrators of the University of Chicago (UC) have permanently removed pews from an 88-year old campus chapel in order to accommodate Muslim students.

According to NPR affiliate WBEZ News, rows of pews were removed from the university’s Bond Chapel in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray. The pews were moved to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Kovler Atrium and are now part of an art installation by UC Director of Arts and Public Life, Theaster Gates . . .

Campus Reform reports that an official description of the exhibit states, “The pews were recently removed from the chapel in order to offer Muslim students a place to pray, a symbolic gesture of religious tolerance.”

There is much to be said for the importance of religious tolerance, but it is difficult to ignore the parallel with the plight of churches in the United Kingdom and Europe, which are being shut down by the hundreds — some to be reopened as mosques. And it is only fitting that the remnants in Chicago are now part of a museum exhibit. If Chicago pursues the European path with vigor, the pews will end up in a history, rather than an art, museum.

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