This week, Wheaton College, a private evangelical Christian institution, announced that it had begun termination proceedings for Larycia Alaine Hawkins, an associate professor of political science, who stirred controversy at the school after declaring solidarity with Muslims and wearing the hijab.
In December, Hawkins wrote a Facebook post declaring both human and “religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
She went on to declare that she would turn theory into action by wearing the hijab. “As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church,” Hawkins wrote.
(Also: “I have sought the advice and blessing of one of the preeminent Muslim organizations in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations, #CAIR, where I have a friend and Board colleague on staff. I asked whether a non-Muslim wearing the hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims. I was assured by my friends at CAIR-Chicago that they welcomed the gesture.”)
Shortly thereafter, the New York Times reports, the college placed Hawkins on leave, citing the “theological implications” of her post—specifically, the idea that Christians and Muslims pray to the same god. (The pope, who Hawkins cited as a source for this notion, is Catholic. Wheaton College is not.)
The college has taken painstaking care to demonstrate that it is not the hijab-wearing that concerns it. In a statement, Wheaton’s president, Philip G. Ryken, said that the college had “no stated position on the wearing of head scarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution.” The idea that Christians and Muslims share a god, however, seemed “inconsistent” with Wheaton’s Statement of Faith.
“Wheaton College cannot scare me into walking away from the truth (that) all humans—Muslims, the vulnerable, the oppressed of any ilk—are all my sisters and brothers, and I am called by Jesus to walk with them.”