Catholic University Sued Because Crosses Offend Muslim Students-Fiction! & Outdated!
Summary of eRumor:
Reports have gone viral that an official complaint or lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic University of America because crucifixes on the campus have offended Muslim students.
This claim is inaccurate and outdated.
In 2011, a law professor at Georgetown University named John Banzhaf filed a complaint against Catholic University of America (CUA) with the Office of Human Rights in Washington, D.C., that claimed Muslim students there had been discriminated against.
The complaint was filed after the Washington Post published an article in 2010 on the growing number of students who have enrolled in Catholic universities, and the Catholic University of America in particular. In the report, a Muslim student talked about his efforts to start a Muslim student group on the campus:
“It was that kind of exchange that prompted (the student’s) attempts to start a Muslim student association. He wanted to help Muslim students connect and gather for prayer in addition to helping spur conversations across religions. He found a faculty adviser and filled out the required paperwork but heard nothing back for a while.
“Then, an administrator pulled him aside and said it wouldn’t work to have a Muslim group at such a major Catholic institution. When asked about the experience, (the student) is hesitant to say anything negative about a school that he says has embraced him so fully and given him a chance to grow in faith and academics.
“’I understand the difficulty,’ he said. ‘In Iran, if you tried to start a Catholic group at a Muslim university, that would be just as strange and hard to make it work.’”
John Banzhaf filed the discrimination complaint against Catholic University of America President John Garvey after reading the article:
“There is no way that Catholic University can show that it is a ‘business necessity’ to discriminate against Muslim students by denying them access to the same benefits other student groups enjoy, especially since many Catholic universities, including nearby Georgetown University, permit associations of Muslim students, and courts have held that any such denial cannot lawfully be based even on the most deeply held religious beliefs.
“…In addition, it is alleged that CUA does not provide space —as other universities do — for the many daily prayers Muslim students must make, forcing them instead to find temporarily empty classrooms where they are often surrounded by Catholic symbols which are incongruous to their religion. Furthermore, it appears that Muslims on campus may even be forced to do their meditation in the school’s chapels or in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — hardly places where students of a very different religion are likely to feel very comfortable.”
But the complaint didn’t gain support from Muslim students, The Christian Post reports:
“Muslim students at CUA don’t seem as bothered as Banzhaf. In a written statement, university President John Garvey said, ‘No Muslim student at Catholic University has registered a complaint with the University about the exercise of their religion on campus.’
“Banzhaf admitted as much in an email to The Christian Post. He wrote, ‘At this point, the complaint is filed solely and only in my name.’”
The complaint generated a lot of media coverage when it was filed in 2011. Many reports falsely claimed that Muslim students had sued Catholic University of America over its crucifixes — even though a non-Muslim professor at a different university had filed the complaint. Ultimately, the complaint faded from the headlines and nothing came of it, a university official told the National Catholic Register in a statement:
“…This story is from 2011, nothing came of Mr. Banzhaf’s complaint, and our Muslim students are happy — none of them supported the Banzhaf complaint and in fact they choose to attend the national university of the Catholic Church because they know that their faith and their expression thereof will be respected.”
But years later, in May 2015, the old (and false) report that Muslim students had sued the Catholic University of America over its crosses was re-reported as new news by websites like Breitbart and Top Right News.
These “new” articles all cited an undated and outdated report by the website Belief Net.
Claims that Muslim students sued the Catholic University of America over its crosses are false and outdated.