Talks Break Down Between Wheaton College, Suspended Professor

Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Though the college did not take a position on her wearing the hijab, 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. “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,” Wheaton College said in a statement.

 

A Wheaton College professor suspended for saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God declared Tuesday that she would fight efforts by the private evangelical college to force her out.

Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor who earlier this month demonstrated solidarity with her Muslim neighbors by wearing a hijab, said she will not accept a proposal offered by the college to teach again next fall that would revoke her tenure for at least two years. She said the college appears to be moving toward termination, meanwhile she has rejected suggestions to resign.

“I was naively thinking they wanted to cooperate,” she said. “I have tenure, and I have to fight for that.”

On Tuesday, Wheaton confirmed that conversations had reached a stalemate.

“Both parties are in discussions toward a final and comprehensive resolution,” Wheaton College said in a statement. “Because of the arrival of the Christmas holidays, however, it will be some time before the contours of that resolution are solidified.”

Hawkins, 43, announced earlier this month that she would don the hijab as part of her Advent devotion to show support for Muslims who have been under scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

Supporting Larycia Hawkins

Wheaton College students, faculty and others held a sit-in to support Larycia Hawkins who, as part of her Christian Advent devotion, wore a hijab to show solidarity with Muslims. Her explanation for the gesture didn’t sit well with the school. She has been placed on leave.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted on Facebook. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Though the college did not take a position on her wearing the hijab, 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.

“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,” Wheaton College said in a statement.

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