Campus chapel turned into 'faith neutral space'

Alumni and students at Wichita State University have raised issues with a decision to remove the pews from the campus chapel so that Muslim students can use the space for daily prayers.

Now, the school is considering making more changes to it because of the outcry.

In May, the pews and alter were taken out of the Grace Memorial Chapel as an 'accommodation' to Muslim students who wanted to kneel and pray.

The school says that under the terms of Mrs. Harvey D. Grace’s gift to the university in her will that paid for the chapel it was to be "open to all creeds and to all races of people.”

But dozens of Wichita residents learned about the renovation after alumna Ann Cusick posted the changes to her Facebook page and said taking out the pews marginalized Christians.

Wichita State University President John Bardo says the Student Government Association requested the pews be removed to make the space "a more flexible interfaith prayer space."

He says the student Senate passed a resolution supporting the renovation of the chapel into a "faith neutral space".

Bardo says the pews were replaced with moveable chairs as a "temporary solution."

"I don’t think that change was undertaken with enough consideration of the feelings of all elements of the campus and broader community," Bardo now says.

A new committee will look into future uses and furnishings for the chapel, according to the school president.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.