The dean of a Bible college has stirred up a controversy in Tennessee after challenging a neighboring school’s class on Islam and declaring that the religion is not peaceful.

Kerry Duke is dean of Tennessee Bible College in Cookeville, Tenn. After hearing about a plan for Tennessee State University to host members of the Islamic Center of Nashville for a free course on Islam, Duke sent a letter to TSU President James Hefner questioning the use of a government-funded university for a course on religion, reported the Nashville Tennessean.

”Are you not using government money to promote religion – a single religion?” Duke wrote in his Jan. 14 letter. ”Would you allow me to lecture at TSU on Christianity?”

Soon after the letter was received, TSU canceled the class on Islam without much of an explanation.

”He said they just needed the room, and he couldn’t tell me more than that,” Awadh Binhazim, outreach director for the Islamic center, told the paper.

Besides the letter, Duke is under fire for comments he made about Islam not being a peaceful religion.

”I’ve been to the mosque several times and I’m well aware of the teachings of the Quran,” Duke said. ”I disagree with their claims that their religion does not promote violence, and I can show there are statements in the Quran that encourage violence to non-Muslims.”

Gay Welch is chaplain at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where the course on Islam will now be held. Welch disputed Duke’s charge about the religion.

”A lot of violence has been committed in the name of all religions, and there’s no reason to lay it all at the feet of Islam,” she told the Tennessean. ”If you look deeply into the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, you find that both promoted benevolence, peace and unity.”

Binhazim claimed the class is not meant to convert participants to Islam, but to help people gain a better understanding of the faith.

Duke reportedly is looking for someone who will agree to meet him to openly debate the true nature of Islam.

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