Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, is attacking a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to Craven Community College, in North Carolina. The grant is quite modest -- 25 books and a DVD -- but Jones objects to the subject matter. The materials are about Muslim cultures (and similar grants are being given to other colleges for their libraries). In a statement, Jones said: "It is appalling to me that a federal agency like NEH is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this. It makes zero sense for the U.S. government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations." (The grant announcement does not state that it is "promoting" Islamic cultures, only encouraging more understanding of them.)
Jones also called for the community college to assure "balance" if it accepts the grant by adding materials on "Christianity and America’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage." The Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition then issued a statement that it "would be pleased to provide a series of materials about the history of Christianity to the Craven Community College. However, in light of the government’s role in keeping God out of the public square and the obstacles that Christians face when it comes to prayer and the ability to publicly proclaim our faith, it just seems more than odd that the federal government will provide a package of 'Muslim Journeys' to a number of colleges nationwide. It’s even more perplexing knowing the fiscal problems facing our nation."
A local newspaper, The New Bern Sun Journal, ran an editorial stating that Jones was being unfair in his criticism of the grant. "The materials funded by the NEH grant are intended to teach about Islamic culture, something that would be useful in a community where many residents find themselves deployed to Islamic nations."
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Anthropology Open Rank (Assistant, Associate, or Professor) of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts