While the call to Islamic prayer will not be broadcast from the Methodist Church steeple at Duke University, it will resound in the quad outside the chapel where the 700 odd students of Muslim faith – about 5% of Duke’s student population – will pray. There has been some criticism and some reaction among Christians, but Duke’s associate dean for religious life, Christy Lohr Sapp, expressed a viewpoint that is hardly unique in today’s world. “The use of it as a minaret allows for the inter-religious reimaging of a university icon” she stated referring to the Church steeple. It may be infuriating to devout Christians, but it is hardly shocking. Relativism as an ideology and worldview, to use it’s very language, has been steadily increasing its influence among many of the political and cultural elites in the Western world for decades now. As outlined by Msgr. Angel Rodriguez Luño in his essay Relativism, Truth, and Faith, relativism’s view of faith is one that affirms that no single faith, or religious system in the language of relativism, “possesses an absolute value. All are relative to their historical moment and cultural context; hence their diversity and even mutual opposition. But within the ambit of this relativity, all are equally valid, insofar as they are different and complementary ways of approaching the same reality…”

In other words, under the ideology of Relativism, divine truth reduces to a cultural perspective. Morality reduces to ethics and ethics reduces to aesthetics. Faith, under this view, becomes an accessory to be changed like someone discarding yesterday’s fashions. Think Madonna and her pick-and-choose buffet of spirituality selections. All that remains standing is a quasi- socialist creed that we are all of equal value and our perspectives are all of equal value. And somehow tolerance will emerge from this babble of diversity. The Tower of Babel itself is now seen as a founding myth for linguistic diversity, rather than punishment for man’s hubris. But how tolerance will emerge from a diversity that values violent and regressive creeds equally to the wisdom of Christian and Jewish faiths that helped raise Western Civilization is unclear. Give them time, look at the Church in medieval times, is the response. To compare the Vatican’s policies towards, say, a Galileo with, for example, the Taliban’s reduction of Afghanistan to a near bronze-age society, is of course exactly the type of leveling that relativism engages in. But it’s creed continues and what was a steeple may someday become a tower of babble. Faith is built on divine truth. The Christian and Methodist faith that raised the steeple at Duke did not do so believing their faith was one view amongst many. Let civil rights and the constitution do the work of religious freedom that the founding fathers intended. And let the steeple at Duke University do the work of God that’s its builders intended.

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