WHEATON, Ill. — Talks have broken down between a prominent Christian-identified university in Illinois and an associate political science director who was placed on leave after she declared in a self-initiated hijab-wearing campaign to fight “Islamophobia” that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
As previously reported, Larycia Hawkins posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab earlier this month, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she plans to wear it everywhere she goes during the Advent—including at the Christian college and to church.
“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind—a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014,” Hawkins wrote.
She said that not only does she have a common ancestry with Muslims, but that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins asserted. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
Hawkins said that wearing the hijab is part of her Christmas worship, and that she is seeking to combat what she perceives to be “Islamophobia” in society.
“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,” she wrote.
In light of controversy over the matter, especially Hawkins assertion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, the professor was placed on paid administrative leave by university officials while a review would be conducted.
“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college said in a statement. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
But talks between Wheaton officials and Hawkins have now reached a stalemate as she has refused a proposal by the school to allow her to teach, but with the revocation of her tenure for the next two years.
“I was naively thinking they wanted to cooperate,” she told reporters. “I have tenure, and I have to fight for that.”
Hawkins said that she believes the college is moving toward termination, and remarked that she refuses to resign.
Wheaton officials acknowledged on Tuesday that talks have come to a standstill as Hawkins has refused to continue discussions with members of administration about her “same God” beliefs.
“Extremely frank conversation and communication have taken place in recent days,” the college said in a statement on Tuesday. “The college’s perspective is that additional theological clarification is necessary before Dr. Hawkins may resume her full duties. Regrettably, Dr. Hawkins has clearly stated her unwillingness to further participate in clarifying conversations.”
However, officials denied any attempts to force Hawkins out of her teaching position.
“At Dr. Hawkins’ request, the college proposed the terms of separation if she chose to resign. We have not asked her to resign and did not suggest that she do so,” the statement said. “Although Dr. Hawkins and the college have begun discussions regarding the possibility of a voluntary resignation, those discussions have not yet been successful and may have reached an impasse.”
It reiterated that the school takes its Statement of Faith seriously.
“[A]ll faculty and staff are expected not merely to sign it as a cursory requirement of employment, but also to affirm it as an expression of their own beliefs,” officials explained. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage and speak about issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s Statement of Faith, which is at the core of our identity and mission.”
Wheaton hopes to resume discussions after the new year.