A professor at Wheaton College has been put on administrative leave after donning a hijab and stating that Muslims and Christians worship the same god. The Illinois college said in a statement that her suspension was based on “significant questions regarding the theological implications” of a posting the professor made on Facebook.
Larycia Hawkins is a tenured political science professor at Wheaton, a private evangelical Christian institution located about 25 miles west of Chicago. Last week, Hawkins, who is Christian, posted on Facebook that she was going to wear a hijab, or Muslim headscarf, to support Muslims in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“I stand in 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,” Hawkins wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 10, in which she included photos of herself in a hijab.
— Larycia Hawkins (@LaryciaHawkins) December 13, 2015
“As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, the 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,” she wrote.
College president Philip G. Ryken said in a statement that Hawkins' adoption of the hijab was not the reason for her suspension.
“The College has no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution. We support the protection of all Americans including the right to the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,” his statement read.
Instead, the problem was with Hawkins saying Christians and Muslims worship the same god.
"As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college's evangelical Statement of Faith," the statement said.
“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer,” the statement read.
“Overtures of Christian friendship must be enacted with theological clarity as well as compassion,” it continued. “Some recent faculty statements have generated confusion about complex theological matters, and could be interpreted as failing to reflect the distinctively Christian theological identity of Wheaton College.”
Dozens protest at Wheaton College over prof suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship same God 1/2 pic.twitter.com/GGfg3u5Zws
— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) December 16, 2015
On Dec. 13, Hawkins posted an update on Facebook: “I've received pushback almost exclusively from other Christians. The pushback has primarily centered on the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God,” she wrote.
Hawkins went on to defend her claim based on theological arguments.
Wheaton College has been the subject of controversy before. In March, football players donned Ku Klux Klan-type robes in a parody skit of the film “Bad Boys II.” It has also been the site of debates over issues like abortion and homosexuality.