WHEATON, Ill. — Officials at a prominent Christian-identified university in Illinois have moved to fire an associate political science director who was placed on leave after she declared in a self-initiated campaign to fight “Islamophobia” that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
As previously reported, professing Christian Larycia Hawkins posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab last month, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she planned 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.”
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.”
Wheaton officials acknowledged late last month that talks had come to a standstill as Hawkins refused to continue discussions with members of administration about her “same God” beliefs following initial talks.
“The college’s perspective is that additional theological clarification is necessary before Dr. Hawkins may resume her full duties,” it said. “Regrettably, Dr. Hawkins has clearly stated her unwillingness to further participate in clarifying conversations.”
On Tuesday, Wheaton officials issued Hawkins a “Notice of Recommendation to Initiate Termination-for-Cause Proceedings.” It outlined in a statement that the move is not yet a termination, but rather “begins Wheaton College’s established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty members.” A hearing will soon follow.
“Following Dr. Hawkins’ written response on December 17 to questions regarding her theological convictions, the college requested further theological discussion and clarification,” the statement explained. “However, as posted previously, Dr. Hawkins declined to participate in further dialogue about the theological implications of her public statements and her December 17 response.”
On Wednesday, Hawkins held a press conference at the First United Methodist Church of Chicago, where she was joined by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
“Wheaton College cannot intimidate me into cowering in fear of the enemy of the month as defined by real estate moguls, senators from Texas, Christians from this country, bigots and fundamentalists of all stripes,” she said. “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 in their oppression.”
Hawkins contended that she has not violated the college’s statement of faith, which she agreed to upon her employment.
“Wheaton College does liberal arts well, yet I am left to ponder: How well does Wheaton College treat its employees who dare to challenge students and peers to stand with, not merely for, people outside the Christian faith?” she said.