A Black professor at the private evangelical school, Wheaton College, has come under fire for showing an open support for the Muslim faith. Political science professor Larycia Hawkins held a news conference on Wednesday stating that the school is crafting plans to fire her for wearing a hijab and supporting a different faith which some at the school conflicts with the gospel the institution promotes.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
“I’m flummoxed and flabbergasted,” Larycia Hawkins said during a news conference at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple on Wednesday.
“The charges against me are voluminous — about 38 to 40 pages’ worth,” she said. “But the most shocking and egregious ones are related to claims about my beliefs — that is, Wheaton College’s interpretation of what my theological beliefs must be based on my statements.”
Hawkins, 43, announced on Facebook last month that she would don a hijab as part of her Advent devotion to show support for Muslims who had been under scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted on her Facebook page. “And as Pope Francis stated … we worship the same God.”
Though the college did not take a position on her wearing the headscarf, some evangelical Christians said her statement should have spelled out what makes Christianity distinct from Islam. Not doing so put her in conflict with the statement of faith that all Wheaton faculty members must sign and live out, they said.
Wheaton placed Hawkins on paid administrative leave as her case and status with the school remains under review through the spring semester. Hawkins cleared up why she wore the hijab and stood with Muslims, but Wheaton’s Provost Stanton Jones told the Tribune that her response was not adequate and didn’t address the overall issues.
Although Hawkins’ legal team and the college are still negotiating terms, Hawkins said she received word from Jones that the firing process was underway. Hawkins shared that one of the reasons named was “her unqualified assertion of religious solidarity with Muslims and Jews” and that Muslims and Christians worship the same god.
Hawkins also stated that the memo didn’t mention concerns about the quality of her work as a professor, but mostly zeroed in on her theological stances and her silence on the matter after she made her initial response.
During her news conference, Hawkins was flanked by Wheaton faculty along with former and current students. She challenged Wheaton’s decision to side with donors and critics instead of an established professor who has upheld the school’s values faithfully.
“I teach at a university that exudes a zeal not only for knowledge and for experience of Jesus but also for experience of the word, freedom of thought, freedom of action within the confines of our commitment to live charitably and righteously as Christians,” said Hawkins. “While Wheaton College can signify that employees sign a statement of faith and adhere to it, and I do, they did not give me Jesus, and they can’t take him away from me.”
As this story develops, we will provide updates.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty