Church program bans Muslim call for prayer


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Leaders of a northern Michigan church are defending their decision to ban a Muslim call to worship that was part of the planned program for a Veterans Day concert by public high school and community college vocal groups.

The call to prayer was part of a performance of “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.” A video runs during the singing, showing graphic war scenes followed by people from different faiths drawing together.

At a point in the video where Muslim worshipers are shown, there was silence rather than the call to prayer. The Rev. David Walls, senior pastor of Traverse City’s First Congregational Church, said leaders of his congregation feared causing offense to those at the concert.

“We were concerned that there was potential that some of our active military personnel, military families with sons or daughters in Iraq ... would find it much too hard to handle,” Pastor Walls told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

“A prayer in Arabic, addressed to Allah, with references to Mohammed for an event that was intended to honor veterans.”

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Associated Press the church’s action was ironic given the religious diversity that he experienced while serving in the U.S. Navy.