In December, Dr. Larycia Hawkins—a tenured professor at Christian school, Wheaton College—posted a photo on Facebook wearing a hijab in a show of solidarity with Muslims who were facing heightened anti-Islam sentiment and violence. In the post she wrote: “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.” She was promptly suspended. Now, Wheaton has begun the process to fire Hawkins.
In a statement issued yesterday (January 5), the college confirmed that it is attempting to terminate Hawkin’s employment:
This notice follows the impasse reached by the parties. Following Dr. Hawkins’ written response on December 17 to questions regarding her theological convictions, the College requested further theological discussion and clarification. 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.
Within the next month, the Faculty Personnel Committee will hold a hearing and make a recommendation regarding Hawkins’ status at the college. Then the president will consider the arguments made by the committee and the provost and make his own recommendation to the board of trustees, which will make the final decision.
Meanwhile, students and theologians have rallied around Hawkins, noting that the belief that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is a common one. “To say that we worship the same God is not the same as insisting that we have an agreed and shared understanding of God,” Amy Plantinga Pauw, a professor of Christian theology at Louisville Seminary said in an interview with NPR.
Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf thinks the attempt at dismissal has less to do with religion and more to do with hate. “There isn’t any theological justification for Hawkins’ forced administrative leave,” Volf wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post. “Her suspension is not about theology and orthodoxy. It is about enmity toward Muslims.”