On November 14, 2014, Washington DC's National Cathedral hosted Muslim Friday prayer for the first time. The National Cathedral is an Episcopalian church, site of the funerals of US presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford, and memorial services for Harry Truman and Richard Nixon. President George Bush spoke there after the 9-11 terror attacks. Moon rock is displayed in a stained glass window in the cathedral. The Cathedral has received federal funds.
The midday, "jummah" prayer, followed by a sermon, was attended by approximately one hundred invited guests only. Non-invitees were barred. Muslim leaders supplied prayer carpets, which were strategically located on the floor to avoid any view of a cross. Muslims may not pray within sight of crosses. Organizer Ebrahim Rasool said that the event would discourage "Islamophobia" and allow "a world in which all are free to believe."
Sponsors of the event include CAIR, ISNA, and the ADAMS Center.
Christine Weick, a fifty-year-old woman from Michigan, interrupted the Muslim service by entering the designated area and saying loudly, "Jesus Christ died on that cross. It is the reason we are to worship only him. Jesus Christ is our lord and savior. We have built enough of your mosques in this country. Why don't you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?" Weick was immediately and forcibly ejected from the cathedral by two men.
DCist, a news site devoted to Washington, DC, condemned Weick's intolerance. "Because love, respect and understanding is too much of a concept for some people to understand, a person interrupted the service. Of course," DCist reported, with disgust.
Other commentators echoed DCist. The National Cathedral hosting jummah prayer is a sign of "tolerance." Anyone objecting is "intolerant." After all, as many pointed out, the National Cathedral is meant to be just that – national. In its own words it is to be "a house of prayer for all people."
In fact, Muslim prayer at the National Cathedral is part of a growing trend in tolerance. Truly, those who first espoused the theory of universal human progress were correct. We are all evolving into a more peaceful, civilized breed of humanity. Other news items suggesting that we as a species are advancing towards perfection include the following.
Recently Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education voiced support for the discussion and teaching of Intelligent Design alongside Darwinian Evolution. This is a surprising turnaround. Back in 2005, Dr. Richard Sternberg, an editor of a scientific journal affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, accepted for publication a peer-reviewed article written by a proponent of Intelligent Design. Given that Sternberg himself is not a supporter of Intelligent Design, National Public Radio asked him why he allowed the article to be published in a journal he edited. He replied, "Because evolutionary biologists are thinking about this. So I thought that by putting this on the table, there could be some reasoned discourse. That's what I thought, and I was dead wrong."
Alas, Sternberg was subjected to harassment. His colleagues circulated career-destroying rumors about him. They took away his master key and denied him access to research materials. According to the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal employees from reprisals, Eugenie Scott's National Center for Science Education helped the Smithsonian to "outline a strategy to have [Sternberg] investigated and discredited." When questioned about her participation in this witch hunt, Eugenie Scott told NPR that "Life is not fair."
That Scott is now in favor of the discussion of Intelligent Design in high school and college classrooms, in faculty lounges and in the pages of scientific journals is a sign of increasing tolerance.
Yet another sign that we are entering a New Age of human perfection. Planned Parenthood has recently announced that it will allow pro-life campaigners into its offices. Those supporting Muslim prayer at the National Cathedral often argue, "Both Christians and Muslims pray to the same God." Well, both abortion opponents and supporters address the same demographic – pregnant women. Perhaps Planned Parenthood has decided that women really should have access to full information before they make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Perhaps women really should be able to see ultrasound images of the fetuses that they carry, and perhaps they should be fully informed about adoption and other options.
No, the progress doesn't stop there. In the past, organized Atheists made headlines by opposing the placement of the Ground Zero Cross at the World Trade Center Memorial. The cross was indisputably a central artifact of the 9-11 terror attacks. Firefighters, police officers, and other rescue workers congregated around the cross, attended mass under it, and carved significant messages into its surface. You can't tell the story of 9-11 without including the Ground Zero Cross. But that's exactly what organized Atheists demanded that America do. Atheists went to court again and again to demand that the Memorial simply erase the Ground Zero Cross, in the same way that Stalin erased Trotsky from photographs after Trotsky fell out of favor. But now, in a new move for tolerance, Atheists have announced that representatives Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher will travel to the 9-11 Memorial and lay flowers at the foot of the cross.