United Methodist affiliated Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia has announced its first ever non-Christian chaplain in 150 years, hiring an Islamic woman as Muslim Community Coordinator.
The school’s dean of spiritual life, who’s an ordained United Methodist, explained:
Shenandoah is open to people of all faiths, or no faith, exploring their belief system and being leaders in this world for the greater good. Hanaa [Unus] provides the opportunity to be what we always say we value, and that’s a place that cherishes religious diversity.
The hiring raises interesting questions about church affiliated schools and the extent to which they should teach Christianity versus wider pluralism. Recently United Methodist affiliated Emory University hired a Unitarian Universalist as its senior chaplain. Should chaplains at church related schools believe in the deity of Christ?
United Methodism has over 100 universities and colleges. But very few of these schools have, dating back many decades, taken very seriously their church association. Undoubtedly very few students at universities such as Emory, Duke, Boston, Northwestern, American or many others are remotely aware of the largely unacknowledged church affiliation. These schools function as mostly secular places.
Rare acknowledgement occurred earlier this year when United Methodism at its February General Conference reaffirmed traditional Christian sexual standards, prompting denunciation from many of the church’s schools, including Shenandoah. Several schools have already formally disaffiliated from the denomination or are planning to. In the coming division within United Methodism between USA liberalism and global orthodoxy, probably only a few schools in the USA will affiliate with the global orthodox form of Methodism.
Almost certainly Shenandoah University, after the schism, will affiliate with the new liberal Methodist denomination, if it affiliates at all. The school’s news release explains about hiring a Muslim chaplain: “We’ve always wanted to be more inclusive and more diverse.” But how diverse are they really?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Mark D. Tooley